The US diplomatic agency in Vietnam has denied a rumor which says the US suspends the issuance of visas for Vietnamese students” since early July and said it started reviewing immigrant visa applications.
“Don’t believe the rumors online! There has been no change in the US visa policy for Vietnamese citizens,” the US diplomatic agency said on June 12. “The US Embassy in Hanoi is looking forward to restarting its on-site visa services as soon as possible and will do everything possible to support student visa applicants.”
On the US embassy’s Facebook page, most of the comments under the rebuttal claim that the US diplomatic mission in Vietnam “promptly” spoke.
Facebooker Giang Pham Huong wrote: “It is great that the Embassy quickly publishes official information, not letting rumors spread and affects the psychology of many students and their parents.”
Earlier, on the social network appeared unidentified information that “The US will stop completely granting visas for Vietnamese students from July 1, 2020” because of “many cases of criminal theft, trying to stay in the US when the visa runs out, make more ‘underground’ works.”
The US is one of the countries with many Vietnamese students studying and researching at different levels.
The number of Vietnamese students studying at the US university increased for the 18th consecutive year contributing “nearly a billion dollars” to the US economy, according to the Open Doors annual report of the Institute of International Education 2019.
With nearly 25,000 students, an increase of 0.3% compared to the 2017-2018 academic year, Vietnam ranks sixth among the leading countries in the number of international students in the US from 2018 to 2019.
Recently, due to the outbreak of Corona virus in the US, most schools were closed and switched to online learning, as well as required students to leave the dormitory. Vietnam has made three direct flights to the US to bring hundreds of citizens back home, including many international students.
In March this year, the US announced that it would stop interviewing visas in Vietnam due to the tense situation of COVID-19.
“In the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, the US Embassy in Hanoi and the US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh will suspend visa interviews,” the US diplomatic statement said. On March 18.
The US statement came a day after Vietnam announced that it would suspend visa issuance to all countries in the world, including the US, within 30 days from March 18, to limit the spread of corona virus.
However, the US side still processes visa extension documents for Vietnamese citizens by mail.
In an effort to protect many Americans who are struggling to find work because of the Corona virus, President Donald Trump said on June 20 that he would announce a new visa restriction plan within the next few days to block some foreigners outside of entry into the US, according to Reuters.
“We will announce the visa tomorrow or the day after,” Mr. Trump told Fox News.
When asked whether there would be exclusion from the new restrictions, Mr. Trump was quoted as saying very few. The US head of state declined to provide further details.
Reuters quoted critics that Trump used the disease to achieve the goal of restricting immigration to the US.
The British news agency also said that the US president’s tough views on immigration were central to his re-election campaign.
It is reported that many large US companies, especially in the field of technology, have urged Trump to refrain from preventing foreigners from entering the US to work because they think it will have an impact on the country’s economy.
This will be Trump’s latest move to restrict migration from the economic consequences of the epidemic, according to Reuters.
In April of this year, President Trump signed an executive order restricting immigration for 60 days because of the COVID-19 pandemic to help Americans find jobs amid the economic hardship affected by the epidemic.
This decree only applies to those who want to become a permanent resident, and not to health professionals and wealthy investors seeking to enter the US.
No tourist exchange between the US and Vietnam due to Covid-19.
The Covid-19 pandemic and the suspension of US visa interviews made Vietnamese people no longer travel to the US for visits while many Vietnamese-Americans were also unable to return to Vietnam because they were not allowed to return and have no trips to fly back, according to VOA’s findings.
Due to the widespread outbreak of corona virus, the US has suspended visa interviews since March 18, while the Vietnamese government has also banned entry for foreign citizens and Vietnamese-origin even in visa case since March 22.
Therefore, during the past three months, there has been virtually no travel from Vietnam to the US or from the US to Vietnam except for special flights scheduled to bring the trapped citizens home.
Talking with VOA, Mr. Vu Tran, currently working at TransOcean travel company in Dallas, Texas, said that usually in the summer Vietnamese tourists come to the US very crowded and mainly to California or other states crowded with Vietnamese Americans.
“In recent years, Vietnamese tourists to the US have been very crowded and increasing steadily over the years,” he said. “The majority of visitors combine tourism and visiting relatives. They buy a tour package of the company, after finishing, arrange a time to visit relatives.”
“When they go to the US, they are not afraid to spend money, so they buy package tours with good services,” Mr. Vu said about Vietnamese tourists’ tendency to go to America.
However, Vu said that starting from mid-March to early April, after the US declared a national emergency, there were no more Vietnamese tourists coming to the US.
“At present, many people feel unsafe when traveling. There are many places closed. There are many people who want to visit relatives in the US but relatives are not sure they want to meet them because they are from other countries and on planes,” he explained.
From Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Mr. Tran Phu Kim Do, a senior manager at a travel agency in District 1, specializes in organizing Vietnamese tourists traveling abroad, telling VOA that his company has no visitors to the US for more than 2 months.
“If a guest has booked a previous tour, we will refund them or reserve the tour for another time,” he said.
He said that because the Vietnamese now know that the US has “stopped visa interview,” the “demand to go to the US has been suspended” and that they are waiting until the US reopens the interview tour to America.
Particularly for Vietnamese who have had visas to the US can now apply for an extension without an interview, Mr. Do said that “they do not want to go to the US at this time because Vietnamese people are very afraid of the disease infection.
“If there is no vaccine yet, international travel will continue to be very difficult,” he said.
According to Mr. Do, who has many years of travel business experience, the US is a very attractive market for Vietnamese tourists and ‘Vietnamese people have a great need to travel to the US”. Of the customers in his company, 20-25% goes to the US, the rest mostly to Southeast Asian countries, he said.
“Even you have a visa, you may not be able to enter the US.”
In the opposite direction, from the US to Vietnam, Mr. Vu Tran in Dallas said that it is very difficult for Vietnamese overseas to return to Vietnam because ‘the flight is not there, the Vietnamese government will not let you get in while when you are leaving you will need permission to fly on special flights.”
He said that starting in February, his company had many customers calling into a request to cancel the flight ticket back to Vietnam booked or changed to another time.
Summertime together with Lunar New Year are two peak periods for Vietnamese people in the US to return to Vietnam but currently, guests who book tickets in June-August have canceled flights, he said.
Although a number of airlines have already flown back to Vietnam now, Mr. Vu says, ‘the problem now is not getting a Vietnamese visa‘.
“At the moment, if you have a visa, it is not sure that you can come in,” he added, saying his company has advised elderly customers who intend to ‘want to return to Vietnam to escape’ or who are currently sitting at home because there are no jobs and want to return to Vietnam, they need assistance from Vietnamese Embassy in the US.
According to Mr. Vu, in ten years of traveling, this is the first time his company has been seriously affected.
He said his company has now cut all unnecessary expenses and has to rely on the accumulated money from its business in previous years to keep up.
Mr. Tran Phu Kim Do said that the company could rely on the domestic tourism market, which has recovered to get revenue to offset foreign tourism but “not so much” because “taking tourists to the US more profitable than traveling domestically.”