End to Vietnam’s automatic visa extensions

VIETNAM’S automatic extension of visas for foreign nationals stranded in the country due to Covid-19 will end this Saturday.

According to a Vn Express report, its Immigration Department said this was because Vietnam has started to gradually resume regular commercial flights.

Foreigners who entered Vietnam with a visa exemption certificate, e-visa, or tourist visa have had their stay extended automatically since March 1, 2020, as they were unable to leave the country after it shut its borders.

Foreign embassies in Vietnam have also been urging their citizens to review their visa status and leave Vietnam if necessary to avoid overstaying.

Vietnam had grounded all regular international flights in March 2020 and only on Jan 1, regular flights resumed to Bangkok, Phnom Penh, San Francisco, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, and Vientiane.

Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Moscow, Paris, and Sydney will be added to the list on Jan 16.

Meanwhile, the Express reports that Covid prevention protocols including medical declaration on different apps and rapid testing rules were hindering domestic carriers operations.

Between Jan 1 to 7, 64 international flights brought over 7,800 passengers to Vietnam, according to a report from the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).

Of these 18 were commercial flights while the rest were charter flights carrying experts and tourists on package tours.

The CAAV said the South Korean government was limiting inbound passenger flights as part of pandemic prevention measures.

Due to this, Vietnamese carriers are only allowed to operate two weekly flights from Vietnam to South Korea.

Since the resumption, the CAAV has also received complaints about current Covid-19 protocol that have been hassling foreign passengers.

Passengers are required to submit medical declarations on too many app platforms, which is a challenging task, especially for foreign visitors.

For example, entrants need to declare their immigration details on one app and make their medical declaration on another.

Then, different localities may require submission of details on different apps, like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

Domestic carriers have proposed that the government applies just one app for immigration and medical declarations.

The rapid testing requirement for passengers arriving from Omicron-affected countries before embarking and disembarking was another hassle.

Currently, passengers have to submit a negative PCR test result done 72 hours before departure.

Most airlines said this requirement makes matters difficult for passengers and causes air tickets to be become expensive, besides overcrowding at Covid testing areas.

The Express report said passengers also don’t know whether to be tested at home or at a designated medical facility.

The Ministry of Transport has suggested lifting the requirement on rapid Covid testing before boarding and after exiting planes.

It says foreign passengers should be required to submit negative PCR test results only before boarding flights as is being done in other countries.

Another issue is the quarantine requirement for arrivals who are not fully vaccinated as they need to show papers confirming that they can be home quarantined.

Otherwise, they would need to confirm that they have booked an appropriate hotel to be quarantined in for at least seven days.

The CAAV noted that most people coming to Vietnam were Vietnamese families wanting to return to their home country, including small children who may not be vaccinated.

Getting approval papers for home quarantine is difficult for them as they are from outside the country, and the same goes for hotel quarantine.

The CAAV has now proposed to the Ministry of Health that it releases a list of hotels approved for quarantine, so Vietnamese living abroad can book them without requiring approval from authorities.

Source: New Straits Times


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