Since the beginning of 2020, due to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic, many foreign nationals entering Vietnam on a visa-free basis, entering with an e-visa or a tourist visa have been “stuck” in Viet Nam. In addition, Vietnam is restricting the issuance of new visas to foreign citizens to focus on the prevention of the Covid-19 epidemic, hence many foreign citizens in Vietnam cannot apply for a new visa, even though their visas have expired. Many foreigners have been concerning whether they can extend visa in Vietnam and seek help from immigration lawyers in Vietnam for such queries.
To ensure the legal residence of these foreign citizens during the time when the world is facing the Covid-19 epidemic, Vietnam has “automatically extended temporary residence” status for foreign citizens in the above categories from March 01st, 2020 to the end of December 31, 2021. Foreign nationals who are automatically extended temporary residence do not need to apply for a new visa, however, they will renew their temporary residence every month to legally reside in Vietnam.
The automatic extension of temporary residence is also applied to cases of entry before March 01st, 2020 if they can be proven to be stranded due to the Covid-19 epidemic, certification of the Diplomatic missions by Diplomatic note (with Vietnamese translation) or a written certification from a Vietnamese competent authority about being isolated, treated for Covid-19 or other force majeure reasons.
In addition, to be automatically extended temporary residence, foreign citizens eligible for automatic extension of temporary residence must make temporary residence declaration and medical declaration according to regulations. In addition, foreign citizens need to comply with and not violate the law in Vietnam.
Automatic extension of temporary residence will help foreign citizens save time, cost, and travel restrictions during the outbreak of the pandemic as complex as it is today. However, the extended period of temporary residence is normally 30 days, hence the foreigners need to carry out the procedure to extend their temporary residence every month according to the notice of the Immigration Department.
In cases of extension of temporary residence, foreign citizens are allowed to temporarily reside in Vietnam for the permitted period and exit without declaration. After exiting the country, if they wish to return to Vietnam, foreign citizens must apply for a new visa in accordance with the law.