Thousands of people lined up in front of the Korean Consulate in Hanoi in April. VnExpress / Giang Huy’s photo.
Under the new restrictions, only permanent residents in Hanoi, Saigon and Da Nang can apply for a Korean C-3 visa.
Last December, Korea started issuing C-3 visas to both permanent and temporary residents in Vietnam’s three largest cities, Hanoi, Saigon and Da Nang. This is done under the auspices of the country’s “New Southern Policy”, which aims to strengthen ties with ASEAN and India as key partners in the southern region.
C-3 visa holders can stay in Korea for up to 30 days without restriction on the number of visits within a 5-year period.
However, the number of individuals falsifying temporary residency documents and C-3 visa holders overstaying their visas has increased dramatically, explaining the decision to restrict visas to permanent residents.
In early April, South Korean visa processing offices were attacked by thousands of applicants waiting in line following rumors that the country’s visa policy could change at any time.
The Korean Consulate in Hanoi says it issues 300 tokens a day on average, but as many as 3,000 people start queuing up every day.
Most of the Vietnam visa applicants to South Korea come from the suburban areas of Hanoi and some central provinces of Vietnam.
Korea is one of the largest labor export markets of Vietnam. Its Yonhap News Agency reported that Vietnamese are the third largest group of foreign nationals in the country with 196,633 people (8.3%) as of 2018.
South Korea is also one of the most popular destinations for Vietnamese tourists. The Korea Tourism Organization said that more than 100,000 Vietnamese people visited South Korea in the first three months of this year, up 30 percent from the same period last year. Last year’s total was 457,000.
A video made in April shows people jostling for tokens to apply for a South Korean visa, due to concerns about policy changes.
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