Lawmakers in Vietnam are considering offering a unilateral visa exemption for foreigners planning to stay in the country for a certain duration of time.

The country currently offers a unilateral visa exemption for people from key tourism markets: Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark.

Speaking at a three-day meeting convened by the National Assembly Standing Committee on January 13, chairman of the Committee for National Defense and Security Nguyen Kim Khoa said that while the exemption had proven its effectiveness, the issue needed to be under strict supervision.

"It is reasonable to empower the NA Standing Committee to decide who enjoys Vietnam's unilateral visa exemption and for how long," he said.

Last November, a bill proposed by the Government was included in the National Assembly's working agenda. The bill now has nine chapters with 57 articles, which means it contains one more chapter and 11 more articles than the Government proposal. Most of the articles have been revised.

At the discussion, lawmakers focused on issues of transit, people with no nationality, unilateral visa exemption, those who can invite or guarantee foreigners to visit Vietnam and restricted areas for foreigners.

The Government's proposed definition of "foreigners" as both those with overseas nationalities or equal legal document and those without nationality granted by other countries' authorities met with general agreement.

However, others suggested that only people with overseas nationalities be subjected to the bill, while the Government would have separate regulations for those without nationalities. People in border areas who had neither received nationalities of their current countries such as Laos, Cambodia and China nor gotten Vietnamese nationality were mentioned specifically.

Since 2000, when a new ordinance on immigration, migration and residence of foreigners took effect, the number of foreigners entering Vietnam has increased by 20-30 percent every year.

In 2012, the number of foreigners' arrivals in the country was six times higher than that in 2000. The Ministry of Public Security reported that violations committed by foreigners mainly involved illegal immigration, undeclared temporary residence and travel without a passport or visa. This urged the NA to promulgate a new law.-VNA