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Vietnam: New Rules on Visas Considered; Other Legislation Discussed

(Feb. 12, 2014) The Vietnamese legislature is considering adopting a law on entry, exit, and residence of foreigners that would have a unilateral visa exemption for foreign visitors. On January 12, 2014, Nguyen Kim Khoa, the Chair of the Committee for National Defense and Security of the National Assembly (NA), noted that exemptions would need to be strictly supervised and proposed that the NA Standing Committee decide on who would obtain exemptions and how long they would last. (NA Standing Committee Discusses Unilateral Visa Exemption for Foreigners, VIETNAM LAW AND LEGAL FORUM (Jan. 24, 2014); Home, NA website (last visited Feb. 10, 2014).)

Other aspects of the law would regulate transit through the country, the status of stateless persons, who can invite or guarantee foreigners, and areas that foreigners would be restricted from entering. (NA Standing Committee Discusses Unilateral Visa Exemption for Foreigners, supra.) One issue still being debated is whether to include those individuals without citizenship in another country (that is stateless persons) in the definition of foreigners for the purposes of the new legislation. (<!–?Id.)

At present visitors from the United States are required to apply for visas to visit Vietnam, either in person or through an online system. (Visa, Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the United States of America website (last visited Feb. 10, 2014).) There are a number of legal instruments and agreements that govern the entry of foreigners into Vietnam (Search Result, LEGAL NORMATIVE DOCUMENTS (last visited Feb. 10, 2014)), including the Decree on Entry and Exit Visa Procedures. (Decree 24/CP/03 (Mar. 24, 1995), LEGAL NORMATIVE DOCUMENTS.)

The NA is also considering amending the national Law on Health Insurance. (Law 25/2008/QH 12 (Nov. 14, 2008), LEGAL NORMATIVE DOCUMENTS.) One proposal would make participation in the national plan compulsory and give subsidies to the poor and otherwise disadvantaged. According to NA Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung, the revised law should have enough flexibility to accommodate participants choosing the medical care they deem best, according to market rules, rather than designating public hospitals or clinics that patients would be required to use. (NA Standing Committee Discusses Unilateral Visa Exemption for Foreigners, supra.)

Other topics to be discussed by the legislators include bankruptcy, customs, inland waterway transportation, marriage and family, and the handling of administrative measures by the courts. (Id.)