VIETNAM – New Regulations on Work Permits

September 20th, 2023
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Vietnam has just issued welcome new rules (Decree 70 to amend Decree 152) regarding work permits for foreigners. The amendment appears to demonstrate that the Vietnamese Government has taken foreign enterprises’ frustrations and comments on work permits into account. The rules to obtain work permits have been made clearer and less restrictive.

  1. Better definition of expert, general director and technician.

Expert: A person with a university degree and 3 years of work experience which experience is aligned with her job in Vietnam. The work experience no longer needs to be within the foreigner’s area of training.  This change will certainly support foreigners who have worked in fields that are related but different from the field in which they have been trained or in which they have studied.

  • General director”: This position is more clearly defined to include the head of a branch or representative office, or the business location of the employer.  It includes the head or direct manager of at least one field of business within the employer’s business.
  • “Technician”: To be a “technician”, the foreigner must: (i) have been trained for at least one year and (ii) have at least 3 years of working experience which experience is within her job in Vietnam”.  Decree 70 no longer limits training to technical training.
  1. Acceptance of previous work permit as evidence for work experience

Decree 70 allows a foreigner to use her previous work permit (sponsored by another employer) to prove her working experience.  This new regulation resolves many employers’ complaints and supports a foreigner’s burden of proof to show experience.

  1. Publishing recruitment before obtaining approval for hiring foreigners

From January 1, 2024, an employer will be required to post a recruitment notice on MOLISA’s website or official Job Centre websites.  This will be a condition to receive the approval needed to hire a foreigner.  If, after publication, the employer cannot find a qualified Vietnamese candidate, it can request approval to hire a foreigner.

  1. A foreigner married to a Vietnamese citizen can apply for work permit exemption

Prior to Decree 70, a prospective employer was required to notify the labor authorities of a prospective foreign employee’s exemption from a work permit if she were married to a Vietnamese citizen.  In such circumstances, there were no certificates nor confirmations on exemption from work permits.  As a result, the foreigner’s visas or temporary residence card (“TRC”) was sponsored by the Vietnamese spouse, not the employer.  Such a family-related TRC/visa is not perfect and can require some foreigners to leave Vietnam every 6 months.

Decree 70 now allows an employer to obtain a certificate of exemption from a work permit for a foreigner who is married to a Vietnamese citizen.  Based on this certificate, the employer can sponsor the work-related TRC/visas all of which will permit its foreign employees to stay long term (more than 6 months).  They will not have to use the family relationship to support this work requirement. 

  1. Foreigners working for one employer in many provinces and cities in Vietnam

Due to the nature of the business, a foreign employee might need to work in different provinces.  According to the old regulations, the employer needed to obtain multiple work permits; that is, one in each such province.  It was time-consuming and unnecessary.  Under Decree 70, the employer is only required to notify provincial labor authorities where the foreign employee is assigned to work.

Decree 70 also provides new standard forms.

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