Vietnam’s Visas and Work Permit Procedures

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Vietnam visa and work permit

Vietnam’s visa and work permit procedures, can be confusing for first time visitors. Vietnam Briefing explains the steps and what foreigners should pay attention to when planning a long-term visit.

The number of foreign skilled workers coming to Vietnam has steadily increased in recent years, surging to over 80,000 at the end of 2018. Most foreign workers that come to Vietnam are employees of foreign contractors, working for, or establishing, foreign direct investment (FDI) projects, coming from over 100 countries.

A Vietnamese entity is permitted to recruit foreign workers in order to work as managers, executive directors and experts where local hires are not yet able to meet production and business requirements. Unlike in certain other Asian countries, Vietnamese representative offices are also able to hire staff directly.

To demonstrate the necessity of a foreign employee, 30 days prior to recruiting the foreign employee, the entity must publicly announce recruitment for this position to Vietnamese job seekers in a Vietnamese newspaper or online portal.

Evidence of this announcement must be presented in the application for a work permit for a foreign employee. The other option is to recruit foreigners through a government-owned employment service center.

When hiring foreign staff in Vietnam, there are a number of procedures and legal frameworks that must be understood.

Types of visas

In order to enter Vietnam, a foreigner needs a visa issued by the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate. A Vietnamese visa can be granted while in a third-party country or from within Vietnam. Citizens of ASEAN countries receive a free entry visa to Vietnam that lasts between 15 and 30 days, while Vietnam also an e-visa policy for 80 nationalities lasting until 30 days.

However, to work in Vietnam and remain for an extended period, foreigners need to apply for a longer-term three-month single or multiple entry visa.

Relevant visa types include:

Vietnam's visas and work permits

Work permit procedures and requirements

A work permit is required when working in Vietnam for more than three months. This should ideally be applied 15 days by the employer with the provincial Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) before the foreign worker commences their employment. Work permit processing times take up to 10 business days.

Where a work permit is not compulsory, a notice must be submitted seven days in advance to the provincial MoLISA prior to working in Vietnam. Currently, work permits for foreigners are valid for a maximum of three years and are not renewable. A new application must be made if the company wishes to continue employing the foreign worker.

To be eligible for a work permit, the applicant must comply with the following conditions:

  • At least 18 years of age;
  • In good enough health to satisfy job requirements;
  • A manager, executive director or expert with technical skills and knowledge necessary for the job; and
  • Not currently subject to criminal prosecution or any criminal sentence in Vietnam or overseas or have a criminal record.

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 court.

The following situations exempt the foreigner from needing a work permit:

  • Working in Vietnam for less than three months;
  • A member of a limited liability company with two or more members;
  • The owner of a limited liability company with only one member;
  • A member of the board of a joint stock company;
  • Coming to Vietnam to market products and services;
  • Coming to Vietnam for less than three months in order to resolve an emergency or 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;
  • Heads of representative offices, chiefs of project offices or someone working for foreign non-government organization in Vietnam;
  • Internally transferred within an enterprise, which has a commercial presence in the committed service list of Vietnam with the World Trade Organization, including: business service, information service, construction services, distribution service, education service, environment service, financial service, health service, tourism service, cultural and recreational services and transportation service; and
  • Coming to Vietnam to supply consulting services on tasks serving to research, build, appraise, monitor and evaluate, manage and process programs and projects that use Official Development Assistance (ODA) in accordance with regulations or agreements in an international treaty on ODA signed between an authorized Vietnam agency and foreign agency.

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.

Temporary residence cards

Foreigners who hold work permits valid for one year or more, as well as senior management, can be granted a Temporary Residence Card (TRC). A TRC is issued by the immigration agency under the Ministry of Public Security, and is valid from one to five years depending on the visa type.

People granted a TRC can enter and exit Vietnam without a visa within the valid terms of their TRC. The processing time typically takes five working days while the fee varies between US$60 to US$100 depending on the duration of the card.

Holders of work visas are eligible for a Temporary Residence Card, as well as members of management boards, members of councils and boards of directors, heads of company branches and Chief Representatives of representative offices of foreign enterprises in Vietnam.

Permanent residence cards

An expatriate who has a legal residence while earning a living in Vietnam may also apply for a Permanent Residence Card (PRC); however, they are subject to the following conditions:

  • The expat works for the development of Vietnam and is awarded a medal or title by the government;
  • The expat resides temporarily in Vietnam for three or more consecutive years and is sponsored by his parent, spouse or child who is a Vietnamese citizen and has a permanent residence in Vietnam; and
  • Foreign scientists or experts recommended by the head of a ministerial or government agency.

The processing time typically takes five working days with a fee of US$100. A PRC holder can stay in Vietnam without a visa however, a PRC must be re-issued every 10 years.


About Us

Vietnam Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists foreign investors throughout Asia from offices across the world, including in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Readers may write to vietnam@dezshira.com for more support on doing business in Vietnam.

19 thoughts on “Vietnam’s Visas and Work Permit Procedures

    Chris says:

    A query, although I think i already know the answer, I’ve been told by the school that I will be working at soon, that my Work Permit also allows me to work at other schools at the same time, ( as I paid for the application ), I haven’t signed any contract thus far, has any one else heard of this?I thought it was as in the US, you have a contract with only one Employer. Or does this simply make it easier to get multiple Work Permits in VN, at the same time, ( is this even possible? )

    Edward Barbour-Lacey says:

    Thank you for your question. It is possible to work at multiple schools at one time. However, you must carefully read over the contract that you will be signing with your first school. If they clearly state that you are a part-time employee, and that there are no legal ramifications from your working at additional schools, then you should be fine. Also, pay attention to the clause in your contract that states how long, if at all, your work permit will last once you stop working at the first school. It should be noted that regulations surrounding work permits are often, and seemingly arbitrarily, changed (for example please see here), therefore, pay close attention to any new and upcoming regulations.

    Serena says:

    we are having few Chinese employees going to VN for supporting the set up of machines in a semi-conductor company. apart from the abovementioned documents, do we have to apply any other licenses i.e. export licenses for the employees so that they can work in the client’s factories lawfully? the concern is that there may be limitation of technology release in VN. thank in advance for your help.

    Dear Serena,

    Many thanks for your comment.

    The next steps to support your Chinese employees coming to Vietnam will depend on the duration of their stay.

    I have sent an email to your registered account regarding this issue.

    Kind regards,

    Charles

    Michael Ward says:

    Hi im fully trained chef and been working in the industry for lasst 15 years all around the world, im originally from new Zealand, currently head chef in nz. Im wanting to cook in vietnam but not sure about working visa. Im 31 years old, can you point me in right direction please. Im have heard that if I get 3month visa I can work for that period of time?.
    Thanks mike ward

    Dear Mike,

    Many thanks for your message.

    Please see your inbox for details.

    Kind regards,

    Charles

    Mai Doan says:

    Hello there,

    Thank you for the useful information. I am just wondering, would a person has difficulty obtaining a work permit in Vietnam because he/she had previously entered Vietnam on a 3-month business visa? Last year before the implementation of the new regulation on visa types, a foreigner can enter Vietnam on a business visa even without a job offer/business-related invitation letter.

    Thank you,

    Mai

    Mark says:

    Hi,
    i understand the regulations have changed since this article was published
    do you have a more up-to-date article regarding who is eligible and not eligible for resident permit with/without work permit?

    thank you
    Mark

    Michele Patrick says:

    Hi; I was convicted of a traffic violation years ago (in Australia). Am I still eligible for a work permit in Vietnam?

    Regards Michele

    Dear Mark,

    Many thanks for your comment.

    Please see your inbox for further details regarding residence and work permit eligibility.

    Kind regards,

    Charles

    Dear Mai,

    Many thanks for your comment.

    A foreigner who has previously obtained a business visa would not have difficulty obtaining a work permit in Vietnam as a result of this.

    Please see your inbox for further details.

    Kind regards,

    Charles

    Dear Michele,

    Many thanks for your comment.

    The traffic violation is not likely to prevent you from receiving a work permit in Vietnam.

    Please see your inbox for further details.

    Kind regards,

    Charles

    Kenn Gravador says:

    Hi Charles,

    Nice guide that you have there. Is it still up-to-date meaning still currently implemented?

    In any case, can I ask for your advice regarding my situation? Currently, I have a job offer for a consultant role in Vietnam and the period will be at least 6 months. Can I just apply for a business visa (3months validity) and then go back to my home country and come back again so that I can reapply for another 3 months? Or is there any other options that is more preferred like applying for work visa so no need to go back and forth out of Vietnam?

    Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks in advance!

    Kenn

    Sean says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the article.

    I’ve read that it’s possible to enter Vietnam on a 3 month ‘business’ visa and work for 3 months, with the option to renew the visa every 3 months. Is this info accurate? I’m struggling to find this info online elsewhere..

    Thanks

    Sean

    Dear Sean,

    Many thanks for your comment.

    The three month business visa is an option for business trips.

    If you plan to stay in Vietnam for a prolonged period, we would be more than happy to assist you in obtaining a work permit and temporary residence card.

    Please see your inbox for further details.

    Best regards,

    Charles

    Dear Kenn,

    Many thanks for your comment, and congratulations on your new job.

    In your situation, you would not be required to return to your home country, and could receive a new three month business visa in any Vietnamese Consulate or Embassy. Such visas may be extended within Vietnam in some circumstances.

    Best regards,

    Charles

    Great article! We will be linking to this particularly great content on our
    site. Keep up the good writing.

    joshua banasing says:

    very helpful article indeed! great job!

    jordan says:

    Hi!

    I will be assigned in Vietnam as a Commercial Director and at the same time the legal representative of the mother company from Singapore. We are now on the process of applying for business certificate as 100% foreign investment Enterprise in Vietnam. I saw in your article that foreigners like me who has this kind of position are exempted from needing a working permit. Can you validate this? if so true, how will I apply for the temporary residence visa? Is it automatic?

    thank you!

    Please enlighten me.

    Thank you so much

    Joshua

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