A cumbersome visa process is holding back projects funded by foreign direct investment (FDI), according to insiders.
Nguyen Xuan Thang, Chairman of Schaeffler Vietnam, said his company needed foreign specialists to run production lines and offer technical support. For their stay of more than 30 days, the company had to dispatch its employees to HCM City to fill in some forms at the Vietnam Immigration Department (VID).
Unfortunately, the visa process did not always go smoothly. Sometimes, it moved so slowly that the specialists could not enter Viet Nam on schedule, leading to production disruptions.
“Lengthy visa process is slowing us down. Our production lines need foreign specialists but we are uncertain of when they would be able to show up,” he said.
Aoyama Mitsunobu, General Director of Furukawa Automotive Parts Vietnam, shared this concern. He said his company had invited many Japanese experts to Viet Nam but had to wait in long queues at VID to get entry approvals for the experts.
“We cannot get a queue number online but have to show up at the department for one. The department needs to employ a new take-a-number system to cut waiting times,” he said.
Jean-Jacques Bouflet, Vice Chairman of EuroCham Vietnam, revealed that there had been complaints among some firms that they could not bring in foreign experts because of the time-consuming visa process.
“Favourable policies to help firms and improve the transparency of business environment should come high on the agenda,” he said.
The vice chairman called for a simplification of the visa process to boost tourism and facilitate the travel of foreign experts and investors. He also called for a stay extension for foreigners, including those engaging in high-quality projects, to ensure they have enough time to do their jobs.
Mary Tarnowka, Executive Director of AmCham, underscored an open visa policy as an integral part of a transparent business environment, which is attractive to foreign investors and favourable to FDI firms.
“If we want foreign investors to return, we must have transparent administrative procedures. Otherwise, they would seek business opportunities elsewhere,” she said.
Nguyen Ngoc Na Na, Director of Hana Company, said many Korean investors came to Viet Nam for business opportunities but they were granted visas with a validity period of just 30 days. They were required to apply for a visa extension should they want to stay longer.
“Visa extension is such a daunting task for the investors as they have to move to Moc Bai Border Gate [Tay Ninh Province] to get the job done. An extended visa gives them an additional 3 months to stay, within which some find it difficult to rent an apartment.”
VID claimed that visa application overloads never happened at the department. Every day it created 400 queue numbers but the number of applicants who actually showed up was far fewer than the figure.
According to VID also applicants who have sufficient dossiers will get their dossiers handled within just one working day. Foreigners are normally given a carte blanche to stay for 90 days. A longer stay requires more papers, including work permits and investment certificates. — VNS
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