Vietnam: Work Permit Guidelines Released

Following an April decree, the Ministry of Labour – Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) has published related guidelines, which are effective immediately.

Notably, the guidelines address the new Short-Term Work Permit exemption and new documentary requirements for experts and specialists submitting Work Permit applications, among other changes. Implementation details remain subject to change and may differ among cities/provinces.

Work Permit Exemption Updates

Foreign nationals who provide a service, who resolve complicated technical/technological problems and who enter Vietnam under a business visa sponsored by the host company qualify for a new Work Permit exemption. The exemption allows stays of up to 30 days each and a cumulative stay period of up to 90 days in a 12-month period. The twelve-month period is calculated from the first date of entry. 

Activities allowed under a business visa are strictly limited to internal/external business meetings and training.

Changes to Work Permit Processes

Experts and specialists who are not able to produce a relevant degree certificate in support of their Work Permit application may now submit a confirmation letter or expert experience certificate issued by the home/sending company in lieu of the letter.  For experts or specialists who hold a relevant degree, a copy of the degree certificate plus proof of three years of relevant work experience is still required. 

Foreign nationals in the Technician Category are still required to hold a relevant degree plus three years of relevant work experience for Work Permit eligibility.

Applicants renewing their Work Permit can submit their existing Work Permit to support their renewal application. Previously, applicants were required to submit legalised degrees to support their renewal application.

New Requirements for Workers at a Company Branch or Client Site

Sponsoring employers of Work Permit holders who are assigned to a company’s branch, project or client location in a province other than the one for which their original Work Permit was granted for a duration of more than 10 days, must report this change to the relevant labour office of the new location.

Foreign nationals working at a sponsoring client/vendor’s site in Vietnam must be employed by their current overseas employer for at least 24 months.

Other Documentary Changes

Employers must return the original Work Permit to facilitate cancellation within 15 days of the employee’s last date of work in the host company in Vietnam. Previously, there was no deadline or rule regarding the return of documents.

Local companies must submit a quarterly Foreign Labour Use Report on a new form every 5th of the first month of each quarter.

What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

Employers and foreign nationals should benefit from more flexible documentary requirements for new and renewal Work Permit applications.

Employers should also benefit from the Short-Term Work Permit exemption since it will replace the need for a traditional Work Permit process for qualified employees, which could take up to four months.

As far as implementation, the Labour Department of Ho Chi Minh City is now following the newly implemented guidelines. Whether and when other departments follow the guidelines remains to be seen.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK