Backdate, Pay Twice - The Latest Visa Scam

Had the misfortune of having to go to Moc Bai, last week, always unpleasant but getting there + back with everything I left with, both arms, legs, those sort of things, I consider to be a victory. Getting a 3 month Business Visa that is valid for 3 months, however, was a battle I hesitate to say I even came second in, given that the visa I eventually had thrown at me was backdated 13 days + then, just for good measure, the 3 month period issued was a further 3 days light of any 3 month period I know of. So, I make that 16 days I've been cheated out of, add that to the standard, everyday fees that are cheated out of foreigners on a routine basis, I've been well + truly rinsed!

      The last visa I got at Moc Bai was backdated 2 days + a further 4 days were skimmed off the '3 months', so that's 6 days extorted from me, 16 this time, at this rate they'll have to start issuing 6 month visas just to allow for the days that are chiselled off. A further annoyance, to add to the catalogue of Moc Bai's failings, is the increasing number of 'hustlers' that now pollute the already far from welcoming atmosphere. They offer to push your passport to the front of the queue + expedite it receiving an exit stamp, nothing you can't do for yourself + further paying for people just to do their jobs didn't tempt me. I will just mention that even with the absence of there being any queue this 'service' is still available. As is, a lift to the Cambodian border facility (Bavet), 3 km away, this cheeky, young scamp tried to tell me (it's less than 0.5 km in actual fact), he spoke English well but his comprehension of "No, thank you." was cruelly exposed as a problem area. Sadly, I had to resort to less formal expression which showed the same level of respect as I was being shown, namely, none, but there were no grey areas as far as understanding my gist went so progress was made, as far as the brotherhood of man, not so much. Funny, though, how 3 km comes up short in reality, in the same way that 3 months on your visa does, too!

      These guys are also allowed to loiter about the 'arrivals suite', the destination of the arduous hike you have to undertake back from Bavet, here, the racket is getting the bloke in the 'Visa on Arrival Booth' to do his job. This booth had a distinct closed/not open look about it, there's a small hatch conveniently placed at about my waist height, so children + dwarves, I can only assume, account for the majority of their 'clients', regardless, the hatch was closed. So, rather than stand about playing getting to know you with the 'boys', I opted to knock on the door + open it. You'd think I'd just wandered into the Golden Temple with a muddy pair of wellies on, the lone guy manning the post wasn't happy, but neither was any other official I'd dealt with + what should I have done? Made an appointment? Somehow made a reservation in advance? Booked an audience with the guy? I was reaching my limit for being treated like something you've trodden on + I was near the end of my ordeal, the guy spoke no English, continuing the 'no help whatsoever' theme that Moc Bai offers the visitor, it's as though the idea that a few foreigners might pass through the place never crossed anyone's mind. It's not that I expect everyone to be able to speak English, but I do in the same way I expect a life guard to be able to swim. Alas, he wasn't the source of information I'd hoped for, a price list for the various visas wasn't present, that would be totally out of place, not in keeping at all, as it happens I'm a whiz with numbers in Vietnamese + a mere 45 minutes later my overpriced + 'underdone' visa was ready. One more surly, charmless, 'uniform' to scrape me off the bottom of his shoe, stamp my passport + 'Welcome to Vietnam, We Hope you Enjoy your Stay!'.

      For me, the nature of the visa policy, a state sponsored, completely unregulated free-for-all, + an open invite to exploit foreigners, is something I've watched only intensify for more than 10 years, now, + it must be fair to say it doesn't serve to do anything positive for the reputation of a country I'm hugely fond of, the very opposite, I'd guess. I accept it because I have to, but don't ask me to like it, you don't have to nod, smile, + pretend every thing's peachy, being a mindless sycophant doesn't make you a good mixer, a 'cultural chameleon'. Disagree with me, by all means but please, don't give me, 'You're not in the west, if you don't like it, 'k off back to.............'. I'm aware of where I am, most of the time, I assure you, but you are allowed a whinge, from time to time, apart from about how hot it is, or red lights not necessarily meaning stop, stuff like that, but the idea I can't moan because it's not "my country" isn't something I buy into, either, it isn't my country, or yours, or anybody else's- none of it's mine, or his, or hers, it's all OURS. Ask John Lennon, he's with me on that one! Anyway, there must be plenty of other angles you can have a pop at me from, maybe you enjoy paying for the same thing twice? I'm sure if you look hard enough.............

There are no flies on this guy, a few ticks, maybe? Never the less, I couldn't have put it any better myself............

How was the food?

Moc Bai and Bavet both should have signs saying "extortion area" not immigration.

It's obvious,as we all know that the VN government doesn't give a rats ass about what happens, and nothing will change.Everyone knows about the money that changes hands here every day,and as usual the hand waggle would be the reply from any official.

I couldn't tell you, Fred, I brought a nice packed lunch with me, a corned beef sandwich, pork pie, pickled egg, + a pack of Twiglets, plus my Thermos flask of tea, some Rich Tea would have been nice but I put a brave face on it, there is a war on, after all.
I don't know if you've ever made the pilgrimage to Moc Bai (it puts the 'grim' back into pilgrimage!) but fair to say, catering is one of the many areas that could do with a tweak, keeping body + soul together could be an issue for some. Outside there are various offal, + other prime cut dishes available to tempt the palate, I've always managed to resist, somehow, my iron will could possibly explain it?
Sorry I can't give you an answer from personal experience, if I was ever to not go on the bike I'd be looking at some kind of "wet lunch" option, something to help take the edge off proceedings, any excuse. I have a long held association with day trips on a bus, + plentiful liquid refreshment, but Southend we most definitely are not talking about.
What am I talking about? Is something you're probably asking yourself at this very moment, + I'm not sure I can answer that myself, sorry about that.......................

The whole deal up, at Moc Bai, is very much in keeping with your name, I reckon, which is to say it's a pain in the arse!

I'm guessing you didn't like the place. Perhaps you'd be better trying Toytown for your next visa run in the hope of meeting Noddy.

(The OP will get that joke whilst other will just scratch their heads in confusion)

if you have a visa letter on arrival for moc bai, the letter will state clearly the duration and start date so your 90's starts from the start date regardless of when you enter. If you come in after the start date on the letter it may feel like you are being backdated and you will also lose some days....

there could also be date errors on your letter...

There are no flies on you, Fred, I rate Moc Bai right up there with the M25, my old dentist's surgery, + the "secret" visa place on Nguyen Du. I call it that due to the signage on the front of the building, or the fact that there isn't any, not a word, very much in keeping with the 'no help whatsoever' theme that punctuates any visit to Moc Bai. So, what went wrong with the inside of the building I couldn't tell you?! If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I'd been using a pair of rentals, for example, I wouldn't have believed it, the following, however, is gospel:
                   1. There's information in English.
                    2. There are staff members that speak English, well.
                    3. There's a price list on the wall*.
                    4. There's a ticketed queueing system, like you have at the deli counter in Sainbury's, they used to, anyway.
* The price list is all very well, whether you can lay your hands on anything on it for the price that it shows is another thing entirely. The old 3 month extension for 10 bucks is a case in point, I must have 25+ of those little swine + I've not paid 10 bucks for a single one of them! I go to Nguyen Du every now + then, knowing I won't get what I want but it's local + I enjoy stirring the pot. The last time I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I couldn't extend the visa I had, impossible, couldn't be done, which was a lie, of course, I knew that I could go any number of places + pay whatever the racket was currently extorting, which I obviously did. I told the girl I'd bring it back + show her, I remember she was an ignorant, rude, + unpleasant little madam who treated me with contempt from the start, so before I gave her reason to, + she'd just learnt a new phrase from the customer care manual, I remember because she overused it. " I don't care! ", she told me numerous times, to go along with everything else I already knew, but it did give me an idea, which I didn't share with her, I know what she would have said.

  On the front of the building they should have a sign saying, 'Visa Mob', or whatever it is they call themselves? " We Don't Care! ". 'We don't give a ***k!', would be better + that's what it would say if were in charge...........
With that terrifying imagination I'll be on my way, Toy Town, eh? I'll try anything once, line dancing, teetotalism, being among the exceptions to that rule.

One of the reasons people don't return, the rudeness of officials.

I know what you're saying, I was there the day following the date on 'the letter', so I suppose that could account for one of the days I was rinsed of. 'The Letter' is nothing more than a way of ensuring the local mob, wherever you may be, get their pound of flesh when you go to Moc Bai. It's the whole racket summed up for you, when you think about it, it's forcing you to use a middleman when there's absolutely no need whatsoever for you to do so, that's the scam right there.
Vietnam is the only country, I know of, where you have to pay someone to get you a visa for a country you're already in!? Last time I tried to get one 'direct' I was plain + simply lied to + refused, so I was then forced to pay some chancer to get me the very thing I'd been told by a 'uniform' did not exist, couldn't be done, was impossible!!! It's V.V.V. (Vietnam Visa Venality) undeniably................
Still surprises me, though, how many people seem to be OK with it all, apologise for it, actively support it, even, by slagging me off for daring to mention it, albeit, with tragically weak arguments but the sentiment is clear enough.

You need to be thick skinned, alright, or maybe just thick? I always end up going back, hmmmmm???

SiCoTic :

You need to be thick skinned, alright, or maybe just thick? I always end up going back, hmmmmm???

Your account of the place (one that pretty much agrees with a pile more on the internet) is hell on earth, so why the dingo's kidneys would you go back?

Its the closest border crossing to Saigon. You should see the cash changing hands from the locals so they can go and gamble.

Unless they move Cambodia, or Vung Tau becomes an independent state, neither of which I can see happening before Christmas, at the earliest, I don't see that there's any alternative. As you rightly point out, I don't count the days until my next visit to Moc Bai, although if I did you can be sure I'd make a better bloody job of it than they make of counting days up there. 90 days is clearly beyond their skill set, falling short of the target as they always seem to, if those boys were ever to transfer to the prison service the cons would be dancing in their cells, they'd all be freed long before they'd done their stretch, those Moc Bai boys would solve overcrowding in a matter of a few weeks!!!
So, it's out of necessity that I go there, not because I can't think of anywhere else to go for a day out........

PS If anyone knows of a good place to go for a day out, I'd be grateful if you'd let me know.

Thanks for a few good laughs, SiCoTic - you've got my day off to a great start!  The reason for this response, mostly irrelevant as I'm sure it will be, is that you mentioned Vung Tau - which is where I live with my VN wife, and have done for some time.
But just in case you might be tempted to pop over this way to check out the visa facility - don't!  Trust me - Just. Don't!
I have a five-year "married to a VN citizen" visa, but I'm still required to renew my "registration" every three months, which I've always done promptly.  However, they moved most of the gov't offices from Vung Tau City to Ba Ria City not so long ago, and now it's a whole different ball game!
The last time we went up there (more than a year ago, now), the uniformed "clerk" didn't even look up from his desk - just gave the application form back with a grunted, "Wrong form".  So I asked him for "the right form" - to which he grunted, "Get it from Vung Tau City" - which is, of course, precisely where we'd got the "wrong form" from in the first place!
And despite many requests, he flatly refused to give me a "correct form", even though he was representing the entire province's immigration department! (sotto voce: he was, of course, almost certainly holding out for "coffee money" - but he would have gone thirsty that day!).
Cut a long story short, we hopped across to Saigon and did it all there with no dramas whatsoever - and that's now my new city of registration, despite our home address being in Vung Tau!

You write too much mate - nobody reads all that.

A Business Visa is a waste of money, and does NOT entitle you to work; stick with the 3 months Tourist Visa😉

pilotadamp :

You write too much mate - nobody reads all that.


Harsh - I got three paragraphs in before I bit my left hand off in order to stay awake.

Fred :
pilotadamp :

You write too much mate - nobody reads all that.


Harsh - I got three paragraphs in before I bit my left hand off in order to stay awake.

Fred, you should never bite the hand that feeds you,lol. :)

Today I found out for the work permit, your quals,  even after you've had it notarised and legalised and witnessesed by local solicitors and your embassy.

You NOW MUST still get it notarised AND TRANSLATED AT 2-3 TIMES THE GOING RATE. by the "FSC" FOreign Service Company. This appears to be new, no matter how long you have been in the country.

Much like China, I presume this is just nonsense so the crooked minister of foreign affairs can provide a direct relative a multi-million dollar guaranteed business, with the insignificant proviso that every foreigner actually trying to work here legally is fleeced even more and spends even more time with bullshit admin. takes 5 days.

Also my local immigration police and Da Nang were adamant that they could not even accept an application for a new work visa letter of approval until that person had left the country, even on a different passport, different employer etc.

the consular staff in Sihanoukville were equally adamant that work letter of approvals must be got before leaving the country and would be impossible from outside.

sheer incompetence, greed. theives

what a pathetic clown of a country

colinoscapee :
Fred :
pilotadamp :

You write too much mate - nobody reads all that.


Harsh - I got three paragraphs in before I bit my left hand off in order to stay awake.

Fred, you should never bite the hand that feeds you,lol. :)

Harsh indeed!   Wot about the entertainment enterprise opportunities..?

Plenty of popcorn franchises!   No, no details.   I got mine...

..but I think you guys might need a refresher course of the fun factor...       :shy

Here, we (most of us?) know all about Noddy.   Don't we.      :idontagree:

Pilotadamp (and sycophants) - are you referring to my post?  If not, please accept my apologies for the confusion (you posted directly below mine but didn't address your comments to anyone specifically, so I'm not sure).  But if you are referring to my post, then you're either extremely rude or (at best) didn't notice that I wasn't talking to you - I was specifically replying (by name) to SiCoTic.  Perhaps you were too busy looking in the mirror to notice?

Lighten up Linh.

..we're just giving credit for a creative whinge!

Develop your own edge.  Sure, some of us (p)sych's
are irreverent, irrelevant and irresponsible, but we have fun...

..while we empathise...          :sosad:

I tried to provide some information to SiCoTic on the topic of visas and Pilotadamp jumps in and tells me I "write too much" and that "nobody reads all that".  What on earth has it got to do with him anyway, fer chrissake!  Too many busybodies on this forum with far too much time on their hands (or too much Hanoi vodka and/or Saigon Red in their blood!).

Perhaps it's time to calm down a little, please.

Oh really!  I suppose your comment: "Harsh - I got three paragraphs in before I bit my left hand off in order to stay awake." was just being 'creative' as well?  From my perspective as the target, it was a pathetic attempt at humour and a blatant attempt to jump on the bandwagon.  You guys need a reality check!

I agree, (we) can be a little creepy under our cryptic camouflage,
but I doubt it was anyone's intention to cut you off.

..and yes, it was a long read, but a lot of real stuff too... (SoCoTic's)

I found his post very appropriate, given the infinite(?) amount of
obfuscation given by our host's 'bad guy' bureaucracy.  Ok, a little
too tongue-in-cheek(y) for some, but humour lifts the drama and drudgery
and turns a rant into readable. you yourself observed positively.

Your comments are valid and useful too, and yes, we might have been
out-of-line and in too much of a hurry chipping in our 2 dong's worth,
but I don't see anyone (deliberately) trying to denigrate you.

Yes, it is a (very) serious subject for many (most?) of us, but by keeping
an eye out for the (too often) ridiculous stuff we have to endure, we can
also get a few giggles, while we (really) want to weep.

Reality checks don't use canned laughter...    We don't either.       :proud

Understand what you're saying - but Pilotadamp's post doesn't fit anywhere in there.  He or she suddenly decided that he or she represents the entire world (without permission) by making such a lunatic generalisation as "...nobody reads all that".  Nobody?  How on earth does Pilotadamp know what anyone (other than him or herself) reads?  And if what I (or SiCoTic) wrote was too long for him or her, why not just move on without making such a negative comment?
And then Fred jumps on the bandwagon with his (or her) ridiculous attempt at humour which only made things worse (from my perspective, at least) - and then has the nerve to tell me to "calm down a little..." when I react adversely.  Good grief!
I recall a similar situation on my first visit to this forum not so long ago - when someone else decided he was also representing the entire world (again, without the world's permission).
So the only conclusion I can draw is that too many people use this forum to open their mouths before engaging their brains - and from my experience of expats while living in four VN cities over the past 25+ years, that usually points to far too much time on their hands and/or far too much Hanoi vodka - none of which is conducive to intelligent discussion.
And no, I don't give a toss if this post is too long for Pilotadamp's limited reading skills (or anyone else's)!  Take it as another attempt at "humour" - albeit from a different angle!

I could choose to feel offended too, for the 'hate mail'
I (often) get from my particular (peculiar?) posts...

..but while it is (not) always water off a duck's back,
it does come with the terror-itory; designed to hurt...

And knowing that, you can put it in it's place; negative
possibly, but maybe helpful in identifying ourselves as
imperfect people.   We all try to be better.   At something...

Equally, there is always(?) a bad apple in the basket too,
as evidenced by the trolls who just want others to bite at
their baits.   But even though it may seem personal, they
are more interested in self-gratification: they noticed ME!!!
..while we notice the accurate picture they paint of their self...

So (if) you can reread Pilot's post objectively, you might
see it as an off-the-cuff comment made in a rushed reply.
( I think to the OP, not you )

I'm certainly guilty of this too, but as I don't drink, smoke
or do drugs, my only excuse might be my red cordial fix..?     

Try to be more laid-back.   It is entertaining, after all!      :idontagree:

linhmartin :

And then Fred jumps on the bandwagon with his (or her) ridiculous attempt at humour !

Her; I'm a sexy blonde with a great body.
I also have a sense of humour; something that I find brings smiles, and smiles bring a moment of happy relief from the mortal coil we call life.

Bazza - you hit it on the nail !  :)

Ok, Fred. where can we meet up with 'Her.'.?      :whistle:

pilotadamp :

Bazza - you hit it on the nail !  :)

Thanks for confirming: I was force-f(r)ed as a child, but research is continuing...      :unsure

..the red, I mean.  Fred is quite capable of looking after Her Self...      :dumbom:

                 ..but now folks, we take you back to the bungling bureaucracy...
          Could the key be in the tea?   I mean, after the pork pies..?

    There must be some way into their minds...   (seriously)

The tried and true way to unlock the bureaucracy is variously called "an envelope", "coffee money" or (shock, horror) a bribe!  "Donation" and "sponsorship" are also acceptable - when we lived in Saigon we "sponsored" our local police station, which supposedly got us an extra security patrol during the night (although we never checked).
Btw, not sure if you're aware and/or if it fits different people's choices and/or availabilities, but some of the boys from Nha Trang renew their visas in Snookyville so they can party whilst waiting for the paperwork to be completed.  I know at least a couple from Vung Tau who also go that route.

SiCoTic :

The whole deal up, at Moc Bai, is very much in keeping with your name, I reckon, which is to say it's a pain in the arse!

I decided to take a look at a map of the area, and that explains a lot in one quick and easy session.
The first being how close it is to HCMC (90 mins?), the second being the three large gambling joints within peeing distance of the border.
I suppose this is a matter of how much the 'greasing palms' costs against the price of a flight to where ever - a case of cash and time Vs. the messing about with bent guards.

See your point but I would get my stroppy head on and go to the airport, or maybe chat up a guard or two, swishing my blonde locks until they forgot the bribe in the hope of naughty time. obvious advantage for some  (blessed with good locks?)

But try as I may, skilled in many ways of skinning cats,
the airport remains (relatively) the most efficient.   Effective..?
Well, at least you have a higher degree of certainty.   And you
can still tweak the time and money equation to your choices.

So far.   But...

Where's a meaningful messiah when you need one..?
I'm a bit tired of following the ($) signs...                               :rolleyes:

Bazza139 :

I'm a bit tired of following the ($) signs...                               :rolleyes:

I had this a lot when I first arrived in Indonesia, but we're in the happy position of being in the middle of a massive government clean up and immigration is slap bang in the middle of it.
There have been a few well publicised cases of corruption of late, but also prison time being handed down to the guilty.
There is clearly a down side to living where you are, but think of all the good and live with it until the politics change enough to kill the cash flow.

True.   Something to look forward to...

..but can you at least stop sounding so smug about it..?      :mad:

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