Work permits are applicable to foreign workers working in Vietnam. One need not submit a work permit application in every circumstance, nevertheless. The Vietnamese labor law specifies a few circumstances in which foreign workers can operate legally in Vietnam without a work permit.
Circumstances where foreign workers are not subject to work permits
Article 154 of the Labor Code 2019 and Article 7 of Decree 152/2020/ND-CP state that foreign workers who are employed in Vietnam in one of the following circumstances are ineligible for work permits:
- Being the owner or capital contributing member of a limited liability company with a capital contribution value of VND 3 billion or more;
- Being the Chairman of the Board of Directors or a member of the Board of Directors of a joint-stock company with a capital contribution value of VND 3 billion or more;
- Intra-enterprise movement within 11 service industries in Vietnam’s service commitment schedule with WTO, (Commitment No. 318/WTO/CK, CLX- Vietnam schedule), including business, information, construction, distribution, education, environment, finance, health, tourism, culture, entertainment, and transport;
- Entering Vietnam to provide professional and technical consulting services or perform other tasks for research, construction, appraisal, monitoring, evaluation, management, and implementation programs and projects using official development assistance (ODA) sources according to regulations or agreements in international treaties on ODA signed between competent Vietnamese and foreign agencies;
- Licensed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to operate information and press in Vietnam under the law;
- Being sent to Vietnam by a competent foreign agency or organization to teach and conduct research at an international school under the management of a foreign diplomatic mission or the United Nations; establishments and organizations established under agreements that Vietnam has signed or joined;
- Voluntary and unpaid volunteers to implement international treaties to which the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a signatory and certified by foreign diplomatic missions or international organizations in Vietnam;
- Entering Vietnam to work as a manager, executive director, expert, or technical worker for less than 30 days and no more than 03 times a year;
- Entering Vietnam to implement international agreements signed by central and provincial agencies and organizations under the law;
- Students who are studying at overseas schools and training institutions that have an internship agreement in agencies, organizations, and enterprises in Vietnam; internship and trainees aboard Vietnamese ships;
- Relatives of members of foreign representative missions in Vietnam are allowed to work in Vietnam under the provisions of international treaties to which the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a signatory;
- Hold an official passport to work for state agencies, political organizations, and socio-political organizations;
- Person responsible for establishing a commercial presence;
- Being certified by the Ministry of Education and Training as FW entering Vietnam for teaching and research purposes;
- Foreigners married to Vietnamese and living in the Vietnamese territory;
- Being the head of a representative office or project or taking main responsibility for the operation of international organizations or foreign non-governmental organizations in Vietnam;
- Entering Vietnam for less than 03 months to make a service offering;
- Entering Vietnam for less than 03 months to handle problems, technical situations, complex technologies that arise affecting or potentially affecting production and business that Vietnamese experts and foreign experts currently in Vietnam cannot handle it;
- Being a foreign lawyer who has been granted a license to practice law in Vietnam under the Law on Lawyers;
- Cases under the provisions of international treaties to which the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a contracting party.
The basis for determining FW moving within enterprises in 11 service industries in Vietnam’s service commitments No. 318/WTO/CK to WTO, CLX- Vietnam Schedule
Clause 3 of Article 3 of Decree 152/2020/ND-CP makes it clear that foreign workers who move within the enterprise must be a manager, executive director, expert, or technical worker of a foreign company that has established a commercial presence in the Vietnamese territory, moved temporarily within the foreign enterprise to a commercial presence in the Vietnamese territory and has been employed by the foreign enterprise for at least 12 consecutive months.
Accordingly, commercial presence in the Vietnamese territory includes foreign-invested economic organizations; representative offices and branches of foreign traders in Vietnam; executive office of foreign investors in business cooperation contracts and authenticated through investment license, investment certificate, enterprise registration certificate, representative office establishment license, branches issued by competent authorities (Clause 7, Article 3 of Decree 152/2020/ND-CP).
Documents proving that the foreign workers are in the case of moving within the enterprise and are not required to apply for a work permit include:
- The document of the foreign enterprise sending foreign workers to work for its commercial presence in Vietnam clearly states the working term;
- A written confirmation that foreign workers are the manager, executive director, expert, or technical worker has been recruited by the foreign enterprise for at least 12 months before being sent to Vietnam to work;
- Documents proving the commercial presence of foreign enterprises in Vietnam operating within 11 service industries according to Schedule CLX- Vietnam;
- Health certificate or medical examination paper;
- A certified copy of a valid passport as prescribed by law.
If the documents listed above are in a foreign language, they must be consular legalized, translated into Vietnamese, and authenticated, unless they are exempted from consular legalization under international treaties to which Vietnam and related foreign countries are members either on the principle of reciprocity or as provided for by law.
Notes the involved procedures
Foreign workers who are not subject to the above work permits are not automatically free to work in Vietnam but need to carry out reporting procedures or apply for confirmation that they are not eligible for work permits.
According to Article 8 of Decree 152/2020/ND-CP, the competent authorities to receive reports or confirm that a foreign worker is not subject to work permits are the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, or the Department of Labor – Invalids and Social Affairs where the FW is expected to work.
Accordingly, foreign workers in cases (i), (ii), (viii), (xi) (xv) (xvii), or (xix) must carry out notification procedures at one of the above two agencies at least in advance 03 days from the date he/she is expected to start working in Vietnam.
In the remaining cases, foreign workers must carry out procedures to apply for confirmations that he/she is not eligible for work permits and must be sent to one of the above agencies at least 10 days in advance from the date he/she starts working. The maximum period for certifying that foreign workers are not eligible for a work permit is 02 years.
In conclusion, Vietnamese law has detailed regulations on circumstances in which foreign workers can enter Vietnam to work without requiring work permits. It creates favorable conditions for enterprises in operating and developing business activities in Vietnam and helps Vietnam attract more talent from other countries to serve the development of the economy.