Vietnam: Work permit policy changes

A new short-term Work Permit exemption, faster work permit processing times, additional supporting document requirements for some foreign workers and other changes related to Work Permit applications have been announced by a Decree issued by the Ministry of Labour - Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).  The Decree is expected to take effect April 1, 2016, however, details and implementation plans for the new policies remain subject to change.

New Work Permit Exemption Category

Foreign nationals working in Vietnam for less than 30 days and for a total cumulative period not exceeding 90 days per year are expected to qualify for a new Work Permit exemption category, and are expected to be exempt from obtaining a Work Permit Exemption report usually issued by the Department of Labor. 

Additionally, the following two categories of foreign nationals staying for less than three months are expected to also be exempt from the Work Permit Exemption report requirement:

  • Those who plan to plan to enter Vietnam to provide services
  • Those who plan to resolve complicated technical or technological problems which could affect production and business activities, and which cannot be resolved by Vietnamese experts and foreign experts currently in the country.

Other categories of work permit exempt activities may still require a report to be submitted to the local Labor office prior to undertaking the activities.

Changes to the Initial Work Permit Application Process

Key changes to the initial work permit application process are expected to include the following:

  • Foreign experts or specialists will likely have to submit both a university degree and a working testimonial indicating three years of qualified work experience (as opposed to the current requirement to provide either a university degree or a working testimonial indicating five years of qualified work experience);
  • Processing times will likely be reduced from ten to seven business days;
  • The allowable issuance date for the requisite health certificate will likely increase to twelve months from when the application is submitted (instead of the current six-month requirement); and
  • The documentary requirements for foreign nationals who already have a work permit and who seek to change positions at the same employer; change employers but maintain the same title; or renew their permit will likely be reduced.

Changes to the Work Permit Renewal Process

Key changes to the work permit renewal process are expected to include the following:

  • Renewal applications are expected to be accepted 45 calendar days before expiry (instead of the current 15 calendar days);
  • Experts and specialists will likely need to submit either a certificate from an overseas agency, organization or enterprise confirming their expertise in a related field; or a university degree (or higher) and a working testimonial indicating three years’ experience in a related field; and
  • Managers and executives will likely need to submit a working testimonial indicating prior relevant managerial position. (A university degree remains sufficient for the initial work permit application.)

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

A new Work Permit exemption category, shorter processing times and earlier acceptance of renewal applications should benefit employers and foreign employees. However, implementation details remain subject to change.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK