Two identical Vietnam visa applications: One rejected, one approved. Why?
Recently I wrote a post about a friend of mine who did everything wrong as far as her interactions with Immigration was concerned and recently she became the first person I have ever heard of that didn't do something criminal that was booted out of Vietnam. She did this to herself because of continued offenses and because she ignored her exit date multiple times. The fact that she was argumentative with Immigration officials and always smelled like Vodka certainly didn't help her case.
Well recently a few other cases have come to my attention with friends of mine and this time it was someone who didn't actually do anything wrong aside from overstay a bit back when it seems almost everyone was overstaying because of Covid reasons and the fact that they couldn't get out of the country because the whole world was closed for business.
This guy didn't do anything wrong per se, but then another friend of mine who is basically in exactly the same situation got his visa extension approved and there is almost nothing different about these two people, except for one thing that I will get to later.
A little background information about both of the people in question.
- Both are American citizens
- Both are in their mid 40's
- Both entered the country in early 2020
- Both of them overstayed their visas during Covid but a "pass" was given by the government in most of these situations because of visa "amnesty" due to a global pandemic
- Both are riding never-ending tourist visas
- Both had 1-year tourist visas that only Americans were eligible for back when the entered the country in 2020
- Both of them recently applied for a 3-month e-visa extension coming up later this year
The fact that one of them was rejected and the other wasn't is quite perplexing because unless they are straight out lying to me neither one of them has any sort of criminal history either.
There is only one difference that I could come up with between the two and it is something that I have warned a lot of people about in the past.
The one who was rejected tried to do the visa extension himself and didn't use an agent
There is an internet portal where people can apply for their visas without the assistance of an agent and there are mixed reports about what this portal is like. Some people claim it is super easy and others state that it is perplexing what the answer to the questions should actually be.
Some people are denied their visas because they are boobs that can't copy their passport information correctly and others have been rejected because they put their surname where their first name belongs. I find these sorts of rejections to be quite heartless on the part of Immigration because it is quite evident they are the same person but at the same time the visitor who is filling this form out needs to take the process seriously because it is an official government document.
The one person who was rejected initially got rejected by the online portal and as helpful as it would be if they were to do this, the online portal takes 4 or 5 days to get back to you and when you are rejected, no information is provided as to WHY it was rejected.
Later, my friend who was rejected went to an agent to try to apply again only to have the agent make a phone call and quickly get back to the rejected friend and tell him that there "is nothing the agent can do because he is flagged as rejected in the system." Why is he rejected? Well nobody knows the answer to this.
The person who was approved paid the agent $10 to apply for him and $25 extra for "express service" which we all know is simply under the table money to the Immigration officials. The person who used the agent was approved in 1.5 days.
So here is my theory on all of this. The guy who is now rejected or "flagged" in the system is simply flagged, the Immigration official that has his paperwork come across his or her desk also doesn't know why he is flagged, all that they know is that the applicant IS flagged. It seems to me that their hands are tied at this point. They can't override an official government database even if the reason why it was rejected was because he didn't use ALL CAPS when he was supposed to. The computer makes no differentiation between someone flagged for armed robbery and someone who neglected to put their middle name on the form.
So I believe this is just one more reason for people who are attempting to ride the never-ending tourist visa to ALWAYS use an agent and if you are the nervous type, pay the $25 extra "express fee."
I hear some people say that they don't like wasting money by paying $35 extra to an agent but let's look at this very real situation that I have in front of me with my 2 friends.
The one guy who paid the $35 extra is approved and can depart and come back on the same day with a fresh 3-month visa. The guy who tried to save $35 and did something wrong that he is still unaware of.... well the only option he has at the moment is to pay around $100 for a exemption letter (I don't know the specifics of this) but it will allow him back into the country... but only on a 30 day visa.
So you tell me, who is really saving money here?
I understand the human desire to save as much money as possible but do you really want to gamble your ability to continue living where you are and presumably would prefer to stay, over a mere potential $35 savings?
Once "computer says no" it is very difficult to ever get it to say "yes" again. So I know which option I am going to be using.