|International tourists in HCM City during the most recent national holiday. The number of foreign tourists is expected to continuing rising with the resumption of the three-month tourist visa. Photo courtesy of Thanh Chân|
In a move aimed at bolstering its post-COVID recovery and attracting more visitors, Việt Nam has (finally) reintroduced its three-month tourist visa policy.
While I'm all for rejoicing this milestone in the post-pandemic era, this policy also reopens the door to another problem that was rampant across the country pre-2020 – illegal work.
The return of three-month tourist visas makes it much easier for unscrupulous companies to hire foreigners illegally without going through the necessary work permit and visa motions.
The advantages of this arrangement lean heavily towards the employers themselves, as they face little judicial oversight regarding their employees. Stories of such companies refusing to pay out salaries are commonplace; as the illegal worker was never technically on the books, legal recourse is impossible.
There are some advantages for those illegally employed too, namely they do not have to meet the legal requirements to work in Việt Nam, such as professional qualifications or obtaining a criminal background check.
Given that these practices are, at least in my experience, most prevalent in the education sector, unregistered, unqualified and unchecked teachers in classrooms is a worrying thought even before the quality of education is considered.
On top of undermining the country's education sector, the integrity of Việt Nam's visa system is harmed too, which may go some way to explaining why it has taken so long for this visa to be reinstated after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those hiring these illegal workers are also evading their tax obligations, depriving the Government of revenue that benefits the country as a whole.
Therefore, I believe it is vital the Government cracks down on this practice should it rear its ugly head again.
Stricter regulations, regular audits, and imposing severe penalties for those found guilty will safeguard the integrity of the visa system, protect the rights of legitimate foreign workers and ensure that only those qualified have access to jobs, particularly in the education sector.
This is key to ensuring that the benefits of the extended tourist visa are maximised while minimising the potential for exploitation.
The reintroduction of the three-month tourist visa is a positive step. It furthers the recovery of Việt Nam's tourism sector by attracting long-term visitors to enjoy the country's natural beauty and cultural heritage.
However, the risk of this policy being exploited to hire illegal workers must be taken seriously.
Through effective enforcement, regulation, and collaboration, Việt Nam can strike a balance that ensures the benefits of the reintroduced visa policy while deterring illegal work that mainly benefits unscrupulous employers from taking advantage of the system. — VNS