Foreigners happy with e-visa progress, await new breakthroughs

Now, they expect the improvement momentum to be carried further and for new breakthroughs to happen.

Australian Ken Rafter said his family experienced a lot of difficulties obtaining visas through the Vietnamese Consulate in Sydney prior to their trip in late March, when Vietnam just reopened after two years of Covid closure.

Rafter and his family were probably the first to apply for Vietnamese e-visas after applications were opened on March 16.

Their flights had been booked with Singapore Airlines to Ho Chi Minh City on March 31.

The process normally took three days, but he heard nothing about his applications a week later, so he decided to visit the Vietnamese Consulate in Sydney and find out what happened.

“I was told our applications were in the queue, and would be processed in the next day or two. Once again I heard nothing, so I returned to the consulate again. I spoke with a very nice young Vietnamese woman, and told her of my plight, explaining that there were just four days before we were due to fly out of Sydney.”

The woman assured him that she would pay special attention to his applications.

On March 29, he was informed by the consulate staff that the visas were ready.

When he arrived at the consulate the next day, all the six visas for his family were ready, one day prior to his departure.

“When we were in Vietnam, we had a great time as usual, and I sent photos of beautiful landscapes in Da Nang and Ninh Binh (in northern Vietnam) to the consulate in Sydney,” Ken said.

Since the early days of post-pandemic tourism reopening, the e-visa service has gotten better.

German Eric Warnken who visited Vietnam in April found the process was simple.

“I work each day with computers so it is easy for me. But many older people without computers have struggled with it,” Eric said.

“In Thailand the procedure is nearly the same,” he said.

Despite the evident progress, foreigners are hoping for further improvements in Vietnam’s e-visa service.

Multiple entry, fake sites

American Mike Burger who returned to the country in May and visited Hoi An, Da Nang and HCMC, said he wished the Vietnamese government would further facilitate travel to the country.

“I have used the system at least 10 or more times since 2018. It has been completely reliable in terms of the turnaround time to get the visa emailed back, as well as the payment platform using my credit card,” Mike said.

“The improvement I’d like to see is the ability to get a multiple entry visa,” Burger said.

American Steven Thompson, who returned to Vietnam and visited Da Nang in July, said: “I have personally had no difficulty in getting an e-visa to enter Vietnam. I do like the idea of e-visas in general since the price is clear and payment is also easy and it also makes the arrival process at the airport more efficient.

“But the e-visa system is badly publicized; as a result, many people are unaware of it or confused about how and where to get an e-visa.

“Another problem is that there are many fake websites, and they often look more credible than the official website.”

Since Vietnam reopened its borders and resumed pre-pandemic visa policies in March, Vietnamese immigration authorities have issued 459,000 e-visas.

An e-visa costs US$25 and takes three working days to be issued, the Immigration Department said this week.

It called on foreigners to visit the official website for e-visa application at evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn because there has been a spate of misleading and false information about visa fees, especially on social media.

Vietnam currently offers 30-day single-entry e-visas to citizens of 80 countries and territories.

Following the Covid outbreak in early 2020, the government suspended e-visas for nearly two years until March this year.

So far this year Vietnam has received only 1.87 million foreign visitors, or 30 percent of its annual target of five million.

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