What You Need To Know About Obtaining a Vietnam Work Permit

July 10th, 2024
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Moving to a new country for work can be an exciting adventure, but it also comes with its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to legal requirements like obtaining a work permit. If you’re planning to work in Vietnam, understanding the process of obtaining a Vietnam work permit is essential. 

Overview of Visa Type

If you’re planning to work in Vietnam, it’s crucial to understand the different types of visas available which allow you to enter to Vietnam:

  • Temporary Resident Card: Available for foreign workers with long-term contracts in Vietnam. It’s usually valid for one to three years and can be renewed.
  • Business Visa: This could be your go-to option if you’re involved in business activities or have job assignments in Vietnam. It’s typically valid for multiple entries and can be extended.
  • Investor Visa: If you’re investing in Vietnamese businesses and plan to participate or manage the operations, consider this visa. Minimum investment amounts apply.
  • Work Visa LD1: This is for foreigners working in Vietnam who are exempted from a work permit.
  • Work Visa LD2: This is for foreigners working in Vietnam who need a work permit.

Remember, visa requirements and procedures can vary, so it’s always a good idea to check with the Vietnamese Immigration Department located in the province where you will stay in Vietnam, the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate for the most accurate information. 

What is a Vietnam Work Permit? 

A work permit is a compulsory document, issued by the Vietnamese labor authorities (eg, MOLISA or DOLISA), that grants foreign nationals the legal right to work within the country. This permit serves as a legal basis, safeguarding the rights of foreign workers and ensuring compliance with labor laws. 

When foreign employees receive work permits, the permits recognize them as legally employed, and the permits safeguard their rights and interests in employment relationships.

As per the Labor Code 2019, Article 151.1, the prerequisites for foreign workers in Vietnam are as follows:

  • Must be at least 18 years old and possess full civil act capacity.
  • Have the necessary technical skills, professional qualifications, or occupational experience, and their health must meet the standards set by the Minister of Health.
  • Not serving a sentence, having an unrepealed criminal record, or being under criminal prosecution according to foreign or Vietnamese law.
  • Must hold a work permit issued by a Vietnamese state management agency authorized to do so, except in cases outlined in Article 154 of the Code.

Foreign workers in Vietnam must adhere to the conditions and the Vietnamese Labor Code. They are protected by Vietnamese law, unless an international treaty states that Vietnam is a party to states otherwise.

Who Needs a Vietnam Work Permit?

Not everyone needs a work permit in Vietnam, but most foreign nationals planning to work here do. Typically, you will need a work permit if you are:

  • An employee of a company/branch/representative office based in Vietnam
  • An investor or owner of a business in Vietnam
  • A representative of a foreign non-governmental organization

Requirements for Vietnam Work Permit

To apply for a work permit in Vietnam, a foreign employee must meet the following criteria:

  • The employee must have full civil act capacity as prescribed by law.
  • The employee must be in suitable health for the job requirements.
  • The employee must not have a criminal record or be undergoing criminal prosecution, in accordance with both Vietnamese and foreign law.
  • The employee must hold a position as an enterprise manager, executive director, expert, or technician and be able to provide documentation proving their status in accordance with Decree 152/2020/NĐ-CP – Article 3.

The specific requirements for each role are as follows:

  • For a Foreign Expert:
    • Bachelor’s degree or higher (or equivalent) and have a minimum of three years of experience in a relevant field; or
    • Have a practice certificate that has been officially recognized or approved and a minimum of five years of experience in a relevant field.
  • For a Technical Worker:
    • At least one year of training and three years of experience in the field, or;
    • At least five years of relevant job experience.
  • For an Executive Director:
    • Is the head of the enterprise’s branch, representative office, or business location; or.
    • Is the head of a business line of the enterprise and directly reports to the head of the enterprise.

These conditions ensure that foreign employees are well-suited and qualified for their roles in Vietnam.

Application Process for a Vietnam Work Permit

The application for a work permit must be initiated by your employer in Vietnam through the following steps:

Step 1: They are responsible for submitting the necessary paperwork to the local labor authorities to explain the need for hiring foreign employees.

Step 2: After the labor authorities  issue approval for Step 1, the employer will obtain a work permit for you. You will need to provide several documents, including:

  • A completed application form for a work permit.
  • Passport and valid visa.
  • Criminal record checks from both Vietnam and your home country.
  • Health certificate from an authorized medical organization.
  • Legalized copies of your degree or professional qualifications.
  • Legalized letter to provide your work experience.

After collecting all the necessary documents, your employer will forward them to DOLISA.

DOLISA will then review your application. The standard processing time can range from 10 to 20 business days, depending on the province and how complete the application is. During this review period, DOLISA might ask you to provide additional documents or make corrections to your application.

Once your application has been approved, DOLISA will issue your work permit. Your employer will receive this permit on your behalf, and you’ll need it for your work visa application.

Changes to The Work Permit

Starting January 1, 2024, Vietnam implemented new work permit regulations that require employers to publicly advertise job openings for at least 15 days. This policy aims to prioritize Vietnamese workers for job opportunities.

Furthermore, the eligibility for work permits has become more simplified. Previously, the applicant’s degree needed to match their job position and experience. However, now only the applicant’s experience must be suitable for the job, increasing flexibility for both foreign workers and employers.

Additionally, documentation requirements have been clarified, including the need for the employer’s charter, establishment certificate, and appointment documents. This adjustment reduces ambiguity and provides clear guidance for applicants.

Moreover, significant changes have been made to the issuance of work permits. Only one work permit is required if a foreign employee works at multiple locations, provided all locations are declared in the application.

These updates, part of Decree 70/2023 amending Decree 152/2020, aim to streamline the work permit process and enhance its transparency and efficiency in Vietnam.

Russin & Vecchi: Your Trusted Legal Partner in Vietnam

Navigating Vietnam’s work permit regulations can be daunting, but with the expertise of Russin & Vecchi, a leading law firm in Vietnam, the process can be streamlined.

Russin & Vecchi’s team of skilled legal professionals has over 25 years of experience advising multinational clients. We can guide you through every step of the work permit application, from preparing documentation to liaising with authorities. 

Whether you’re a first-time foreign worker or an established enterprise, Russin & Vecchi’s Vietnam work permit services can provide the support you need to thrive in this dynamic market. With our commitment to client success, you can trust that your application is in good hands.

Don’t let work permit complexities hold you back.

Contact Russin & Vecchi today to simplify your path to employment in Vietnam.

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