Attracting and using foreign workers has become an important factor in the operation of enterprises. However, for foreigners to work legally and permanently in Vietnam, a prerequisite is required to have a work permit, unless otherwise exempted under regulations.

1. General conditions for foreign workers to work in Vietnam

To be able to work in Vietnam, foreign workers must meet the following conditions:

  • Be 18 years of age or older and have full civil act capacity;
  • Having professional qualifications, techniques, skills, work experience and good health;
  • Not being a person who is currently serving a sentence or has not yet had his/her criminal record cleared or is being examined for penal liability;
  • Have a work permit.

2. Cases requiring work permits

From the above regulations, it can be seen that a work permit is one of the mandatory conditions for foreign workers to work in Vietnam. At the same time, the law also clearly stipulates the cases in which foreign workers must apply for a work permit, specifically as follows:

  • Performance of labor contracts;
  • Moving within the enterprise;
  • Performing all kinds of contracts or agreements on economics, commerce, finance, banking, insurance, science and technology, culture, sports, education, vocational education, and health;
  • Contracted service providers;
  • Offering services;
  • Working for a foreign non-governmental organization, an international organization in Vietnam that is permitted to operate in accordance with the provisions of Vietnamese law;
  • Volunteers;
  • Person responsible for establishing a commercial presence;
  • Managers, executives, experts, technical workers;
  • Participating in the implementation of bidding packages and projects in Vietnam;
  • Relatives of members of foreign representative missions in Vietnam are allowed to work in Vietnam according to the provisions of international treaties to which Vietnam is a contracting party.

Thus, foreign workers are only allowed to work in Vietnam if they fall into one of the forms prescribed by Vietnamese law mentioned above.

In fact, the common form of working for foreign workers in Vietnam is through labor contracts and intra-enterprise transfer. In addition, foreign workers working in Vietnam often hold the following positions:

  • Person responsible for establishing a commercial presence (For example, the head of a representative office of a foreign trader in Vietnam).
  • Managers, executives: Usually the business owner or the legal representative, the manager, is specified in the company’s charter. In this case, it is necessary to provide the appointment decision, verifying the experience of at least 3 years at the job position in accordance with the job position that the foreign worker is expected to work in Vietnam.
  • Specialist: Includes two cases (i) Having a university degree or higher or equivalent. At the same time, it is required to have at least 3 years’ experience working in the specialized training that is suitable for the job position that the foreign worker is expected to work in Vietnam; or (ii) Having a document verifying the experience of at least 5 years and a practicing certificate suitable to the position in which the foreign worker is expected to work in Vietnam.
  • Technical labor: Includes two cases (i) Having a certificate of training in technical or other majors for at least 01 year and confirming at least 03 years’ experience in the trained specialty; or (ii) Having verified experience of at least 5 years in a job position suitable to the position that the foreign worker is expected to work in Vietnam.

Currently, the inspection and examination of issues related to work permits of foreign workers is regular. Therefore, enterprises need to prioritize processing and applying for this permit for employees to comply with the law, to avoid administrative sanctions or to affect the business’s process of applying for other licenses.

Enterprises need to be aware of their legal responsibilities and ensure compliance with work permit regulations to avoid breaking the law and being subject to sanctions. Above is relevant information about work permits for foreigners that any enterprise wishing to employ foreign workers should also pay attention to. Enterprises need to check and assess whether foreign workers fall into any of the above cases to carry out corresponding administrative procedures at competent agencies in Vietnam.

The article is based on laws applicable at the time noted as above and may no longer be appropriate at the time the reader approaches this article as the applicable laws and the specific cases that the reader may wish to apply may have changed. Therefore, the article is for referencing only.


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