Work permit regulations for expats in Vietnam

  • 25/02/2020

The latest update on the requirements for foreigners to obtain the necessary permit to work in the country, effective on April 1, 2016. Here is what you need to know about the new rules. 

Who is exempt?

The rules state that expats who possess a bachelor’s degree and at least three years of experience in a related field are able to work in Vietnam without a work permit, but only if their they are in the country for no more than 30 days at a time and not more than a total of 90 days in a year. 

Other employees can, however, work in Vietnam without permits regardless of duration if they are transferred to Vietnam by their company, and if that company operates in one of these 11 service sectors: business, information technology, construction, distribution, education, environment, finance, health, tourism, entertainment and transportation.

Working without permits regardless of time periods also applies to teachers working for international schools under the control of foreign embassies or international organizations. If they are working for local schools, they are obliged to get permission from the Ministry of Education and Training to be exempt from work permits.

Additionally, authorized volunteers from international organizations, foreign students working as an intern in Vietnamese companies or experts supporting and implementing Official Development Assistance projects are not required to obtain work permits in Vietnam.

How to get an exemption?

An employer must present the necessary documents to the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Welfare to get an exemption for their employees at least seven days prior to their beginning work.

The documents must include:

- A request to confirm a foreign worker is eligible for work permit exemption

- Detailed information about the employee, including name, age, gender, nationality, passport number, term on employment and job description.

- Copies of papers to prove the employee is eligible for a work permit exemption must be translated into Vietnamese. In cases where copies of the above papers are submitted, such copies must be notarized or there must be the originals thereof for comparison.

Within three days, the ministry will confirm a work permit exemption or state the reasons why the employee is ineligible.

A work permit exemption is valid for two years.

Who needs a work permit?

Any foreigner working in Vietnam (except in exemption cases) will need a work permit provided by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Welfare

How to get a work permit?

The necessary documents must be submitted to the ministry at least 15 days prior to beginning of employment.

Documents must include:

- A request written by the employer for a work permits for the employee.

- A medical certificate, issued by authorized agencies either abroad or in Vietnam and valid for 12 months.

- Criminal record from the country of origin. If the employee has resided in Vietnam, he only needs to obtain this from the Vietnamese authorities.

- Documents to support qualifications as managers, executives, professionals or technical workers. In other cases, these documents can be replaced by:

+ A certificate for traditional craft

+ An experience qualification for a soccer player.

+ An aircraft license issued by authorized agencies in Vietnam for foreign pilots.

+ An aircraft maintenance license issued by authorized agencies in Vietnam for foreign aircraft maintenance technicians.

- Proof of employment with foreign companies that send staff to work in Vietnam

- Two color photos (size 4cm x 6cm, white background, looking forward, bareheaded, no colored glasses), taken within the last six months.

- Notarized copy of passport

Documents provided by foreign companies and organizations must go through a process of consular notarization before being sent to the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, & Social Welfare.

Within seven days, the ministry will issue the work permit or state the reasons why the employee is ineligible.

The work permit is valid for 2 years.

After getting a work permit, the foreign employee and employer sign an employment contract and provide a copy of contract to the ministry.

What if foreign employees work in Vietnam without a work permit?

Expats working in Vietnam without work permits (except where they are exempted by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, & Social Welfare) will be expelled from the country.

1 comment
  1. Visitor
    Denis Lee

    A work permit may be terminated in the following circumstances: Expiration of work permit; Termination of labor contract; The content of the labor contract is not consistent with the work permit granted; If the foreign employee is fired by the foreign employer; Withdrawal of work permit by authorized state agencies; Termination of operation of the company, organization, and partners in Vietnam; and The foreigner is sentenced to prison, dies, or is proclaimed missing by the court. In certain circumstances, a foreigner may work in Vietnam without a work permit, but they need to apply for a work permit exemption certificate. This certificate is equivalent to the work permit, valid for up to 2 years, and also serves as a basis to apply for a temporary residence card. A notice must be submitted seven days in advance to the provincial MoLISA prior to working in Vietnam. As per Article 154 Labor Code No.45/2019/QH14, the following categories are exempt from work permits: An owner or capital contributor of a limited liability company with capital contribution value met by the government regulations; Chairman of the Board of Directors or a member of the Board of Directors of a joint-stock company with capital contribution value met by government regulations; Heads of representative offices, chiefs of project offices, or someone working for a foreign non-government organization in Vietnam; Working in Vietnam for less than three months; Coming to Vietnam for less than three months in order to resolve an emergency or a technologically complex situation that could affect production, which Vietnamese experts or foreign experts currently in Vietnam are unable to resolve; Lawyers granted a professional permit in Vietnam; Cases under the provisions of an international treaty to which Vietnam is a signatory; Foreigners who marry Vietnamese people and live in the Vietnamese territory; and Other specific cases allowed by the government. Vietnamese authorities are becoming stricter regarding work permits. Those who violate the regulations by working in Vietnam without a work permit may be penalized or, if unable to meet work permit requirements, deported back to their home countries within 15 days. In addition, the employer’s operations may be suspended for three months with a possible penalty of up to US$3,300.

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