Ministry of Foreign Affairs updates legal policies related to foreigners in the context of COVID-19

10/11/2021| 14:35

Consular Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given quick updates mainly on immigration, stay, quarantine policies, and other issues related to foreigners in the context of COVID-19.

These issues are of great concern to representative missions during discussions with the Consular Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs so far.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs updates legal policies related to foreigners in the context of COVID-19Deputy Foreign Minister To Anh Dung chaired the first meeting on consular affairs with foreign representative agencies in Viet Nam in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

 Regulations on immigration

Since the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020, like other countries, Viet Nam suspended the entry of all foreigners except special cases.

At the same time, Viet Nam has suspended unilateral visa exemptions for the following countries: South Korea (February 29, 2020), Italy (March 2, 2020), Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, France (March 12, 2020) and Russia, Japan, Belarus (March 21, 2020), and the validity of visa exemption certificates for overseas Vietnamese and their spouses and children.

Nevertheless, up to now, Viet Nam has still facilitated the entry of foreigners, including those entering Viet Nam for diplomatic and official purposes; investors, technical experts, high-skilled workers and their family members; students taking courses in Viet Nam and those entering Viet Nam for medical and humanitarian purposes.

Since July 5, new entry procedures for foreign experts and foreigners have been applied, which require agencies and organisations inviting and guaranteeing the entry of foreigners to obtain written approval of quarantine plan by the Provincial-level People’s Committee before submitting documents to the Provincial-level People’s Committee, or the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control for entry permits, depending on different categories of entrants.

Since August 31, 2020, foreigners entering Viet Nam for less than 14 days have been exempt from mandatory 14-day quarantine; however, inviting agencies and organisations must have their detailed plan of entry, movement, and stay approved by the People’s Committee of provinces where they are based, travelled, and arrived.

From August 4, 2021, foreigners entering Viet Nam for more than 14 days and having a certificate of full vaccination against COVID-19 or a certificate of recovery from SARS-CoV-2 (also known as vaccine passport) would be entitled to 7-day quarantine at centralized facilities and another 7 days for self-monitoring after the quarantine period.

However, Consular Department has received feedback from some foreign representative missions in Viet Nam and enterprises that reveal a few obstacles to achieving entry approval and travelling across provinces in practice.

For instance, foreigners encounter problems when moving between provinces and experience different quarantine periods in different localities.

To address those difficulties, in line with Resolution No, 105/NQ-CP dated September 9, 2021, of the Government of Viet Nam, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has worked with relevant ministries and authorities to revise the current entry procedures for foreign experts and foreigners in accordance with the COVID-19 situation and the needs of socio-economic recovery and development in Viet Nam.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will, in collaboration with relevant Ministries and authorities, work on visa requirements, easing of quarantine and health measures for specific categories of entrants like fully vaccinated foreigners, members of foreign representative missions and their families, etc. to submit to the Vietnamese Prime Minister for official approval.

Vaccine passport

When some nations with high vaccination rates began to issue vaccination certificates and vaccine passports, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started to study their experiences to recommend measures to resume and facilitate international travel.

In August 2021, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinated with the Ministry of Health to temporarily recognise vaccine passports and allow foreigners with vaccine passports officially introduced to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or verified by Viet Nam’s overseas representative missions to quarantine for a shorter period.

Up to now, Viet Nam has temporarily recognised vaccine passports from 72 countries and territories; the list of these temporarily recognised vaccine passports has been published on the Consular Department’s official website (lanhsuvietnam.gov.vn).

Viet Nam also operated three pilot flights for foreigners with “vaccine passports” and will continue such flights in the coming time.

As a leading agency in developing and implementing vaccine passport programme, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has closely worked with relevant ministries to set up criteria for Viet Nam’s vaccine passports, criteria for recognising foreign vaccine passports.

Moreover, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also informed all foreign representative missions of the criteria for official recognition of vaccine passports, and until now, we have received some positive responses.

The issuance of Viet Nam’s vaccine passport in the coming time and mutual recognition of vaccine passports will be the ground for loosening travel restrictions, resuming regular international flights, recovering the tourism industry for socio-economic development, contributing to the successful implementation of the tasks set out at the 13th Party Congress.

These will be carried out in close relevance with adjustments to visas, health control measures etc.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs updates legal policies related to foreigners in the context of COVID-19Viet Nam is temporarily accepting the vaccination certificates, otherwise known as “vaccine passports”, from 72 countries and territories worldwide recommended to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs via representatives. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Foreigners’ stay in Viet Nam

The Government of Viet Nam has been implementing “automatic stay extension” for foreigners stranded in Viet Nam during COVID-19. According to the latest notice, the new extension date is until October 31, 2021.

Eligible foreigners include:

(i) Those entering Viet Nam on visa waivers, e-visas, or tourist visas from March 1, 2020 (for this group, they can depart from Viet Nam without applying for stay extension).

(ii) Those entering Viet Nam before March 1, 2020, and submitting a document issued by their diplomatic missions or Viet Nam’s authorities to prove that the person was stranded in Viet Nam, or required to undergo mandatory quarantine or due to unexpected reasons. Such documents need to be presented on departure.

Such information is published on the national portal on immigration of the Ministry of Public Security at https://xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/vi.

Vaccination for foreigners

Viet Nam has been implementing the COVID-19 vaccination programme for foreigners residing in the country, ensuring equal access to vaccines, regardless of their nationality, residency and employment status.

Local governments collected the list of foreigners who wanted to get vaccinated and organized vaccination for them based on the number of allocated vaccines.

According to our preliminary statistics, more than 43.000 foreigners were vaccinated.

Establishing contact points for foreigners

To promptly receive reports and requests from foreigners during COVID-19, as well as provide them with proper assistance, Vietnamese ministries, agencies and local governments have established contact points available for 24 hours, speaking foreign languages such as English, French, Chinese, etc. depending on the characteristics of foreigners in each province.

Contact points are also widely publicised. The Consular Department is currently collecting all contact points to publish them on our official website.

Consular visits

At the end of 2020, in response to complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnamese authorities decided to suspend consular visits. This temporary measure is meant for absolute COVID-19 control and prevention.

However, since recent adjustments in pandemic prevention measures, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has proactively discussed with the Ministry of Public Security to resume consular visits as soon as possible.

While waiting for the new decision, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to assist representative missions to communicate with citizens being detained in line with Viet Nam’s laws./.

YEN TRANG

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