On June 16, 2014, the National Assembly in Vietnam enacted Law No. 47/2014/QH13 (the “Law”) to govern the entry, exit, transit and residency of foreign nationals in Vietnam.  This Law takes effect on January 1, 2015. 

The Law is comprised of 9 Chapters and 55 Articles specifying the principles, conditions, procedures, rights and obligations applied to the those who enter, exit, transit, and reside in Vietnam, and rights and obligations applied to Vietnamese state authorities, as well as to entities and individuals conducting operations regarding the entry, exit, transit,  and residence of foreign nationals in Vietnam.  The Law provides strict conditions with which a foreign national must comply to enter Vietnam when he/she holds a valid passport or its equivalent (valid for international travel) and a visa.

Under the Law, the purpose of a visa must not be converted into another purpose.  For instance, if a foreign national visits Vietnam as a tourist, he/she must use the visa for such granted purpose rather than for working or living in Vietnam.  Foreign nationals wishing to work in Vietnam must be granted a work permit. For those who hold multiple passports, only one passport may be used for the purpose in question. 

The Law also sets forth certain requirements, among others, for entry into Vietnam as follows: (i) for investment, a foreign investor must have documents evidencing the investment in Vietnam; (ii) to practice law, a foreign attorney must obtain a practicing license; and (iii) for education, a foreign student must present the admission letter issued by the Vietnamese school or educational institute.

Further, under the Law, certain foreign nationals are qualified to stay in Vietnam on a permanent basis.  These include: (i) individuals who have made meritorious services and contributions to the national construction and defense of Vietnam and have been awarded medals or state honorary titles by the Vietnamese Government; (ii) scientists and/or experts temporarily residing in Vietnam; (iii) those guaranteed by their parents, spouses or children who are Vietnamese citizens permanently residing in Vietnam; and (iv) stateless individuals who have been residing in Vietnam since 2000 or earlier.

Under the Law, prohibited acts include the following: (i) impeding foreign nationals and relevant entities and individuals from exercising their rights and fulfilling their obligations as required by the Law; (ii) harassing foreign nationals  during their implementation of required procedures; and (iii) taking advantage of entry into, exit from, transit and residency in Vietnam to act against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.