Top legislators in Vietnam on Friday approved the government’s proposal to extend the validity of temporary visas for US citizens from three months to one year, local media reported.
The Standing Committee of the National Assembly made the decision after Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh submitted a report on the matter.
Minh said the US had repeated sought the Vietnamese government’s extension of visa validity for its citizens as it said the US had already granted Vietnamese citizens one-year visas.
The US said Vietnam was the only one among 11 countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) offering visas of limited periods to US citizens.
Minh told the committee that the extension would boost economic and trade ties with the US and attract more US tourist arrivals.
With the legislative approval, the government is expected to officially announce the new visa policy soon.
Last August, tourism minister Hoang Tuan Anh said at a meeting with the US State Department that Vietnam aimed to bring the annual number of US arrivals to one million by 2017.
Last year US arrivals hit 443,776, up nearly 3 percent from 2013.
Currently, a general tourist visa to Vietnam for US citizens is valid for 30 or 90 days, with single or multiple entries.
Between January and July this year, Vietnam attracted 301,907 US tourists.
Business groups from Australia, Japan and the US in Vietnam have asked the government to ease its visa policy for their citizens.
Sherry Boger, chairwoman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, said in a recent statement that it once asked the Vietnamese government to extend the validity of temporary visas for US business persons and tourists from three to 12 months.
However, since the proposal was made in June, the chamber has not seen any change yet, she said.