With great efforts, Vietnam is gradually integrating into the world economy and attracting much attention from foreign investors. Accordingly, the demand for foreign workers in Vietnam is also increasing. To be allowed to work in Vietnam, foreign workers must have a work permit (except for cases exempt from work permits under the law). In this article, LTS LAW will give you essential information about how to apply for foreign workers’ work permits in Vietnam.
What is a work permit for foreign workers?
A work permit for foreigners working in Vietnam is a certificate issued by a provincial Department of Labor – Invalids and Social Affairs. Accordingly, work permits allow its holders to work in Vietnam during their term legally.
A work permit is mandatory for all foreign workers before signing a labor contract or performing any work in Vietnam (except for cases exempt from work permits under the law). Upon issuance of work permits by a provincial Department of Labor – Invalids and Social Affairs, foreign workers shall become lawful workers and have their legitimate rights and interests protected during their work in Vietnam.
Conditions for foreigners to be granted Vietnamese work permits
Article 151.1 of the 2019 Law on Labor Code stipulates the conditions for foreign workers working in Vietnam as follows:
- Be at least 18 years old and have the full capacity for civil acts;
- Have professional qualifications, techniques, skills, and working experience; be healthy as prescribed by the Minister of Health;
- Not being a person who is serving a sentence or has not yet had their criminal record cleared or is being prosecuted for penal liability in accordance with the provisions of foreign or Vietnamese laws;
- Have a work permit issued by a competent Vietnamese State agency, except for the cases exempt from work permits under Article 154 of the 2019 Labor Code.
A work permit shall be valid for no more than two (02) years. The term of the labor contract for foreign workers in Vietnam shall not exceed the term of the work permit.
Cases exempt from work permits in Vietnam
According to Article 154 of the 2019 Labor Code and Article 7 of Decree 152/2020/ND-CP, foreign workers are exempt from Vietnamese work permits if they fall into one of the following typical cases:
- Foreigners enter and stay in Vietnam for less than three months to provide services.
- Heads of representative offices, projects, or those mainly responsible for the activities of international organizations or foreign non-governmental organizations in Vietnam.
- Foreigners enter Vietnam within less than three months to resolve technical incidents or situations affecting production and business activities that Vietnamese experts and foreign experts in Vietnam cannot solve.
- A foreigner married to a Vietnamese and currently residing in Vietnam.
- An owner or capital-contributing member of a limited liability company has a contributed capital value of VND 3 billion or more.
- A chairman or member of a management board of a joint stock company has a contributed capital value of VND 3 billion or more.
- A foreigner is a foreign lawyer who has been issued a license to practice law in Vietnam in accordance with the Law on Lawyers.
- And other cases
Timelines for appying for a work permit for foreigners in Vietnam
Decree 152/2020/ND-CP prescribes the timelines for applying for work permits for foreigners in Vietnam as follows:
Foreign workers or foreign workers’ representatives must apply for a work permit at least 15 days before the date the foreign worker is expected to start working.
They must fill in the application form and necessary documents and submit them to the relevant provincial Department of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs to apply for a work permit.
Procedures for applying for a work permit for foreigners in Vietnam
Step 1: Registering demand for foreign workers
At least 30 days before the expected date the foreign worker starts working at the company, the employer must apply for approval of the demand for foreign workers.
According to Article 4 of Decree No. 152/2020/ND-CP, employers of foreign workers or representatives of foreign workers must prepare the following documents:
- An application form for registration of demand for foreign workers (Form No. 01/PLI according to Decree No. 152/2020/ND-CP or Form No. 02/PLI in case of change in demand for foreign workers);
- A copy of the Enterprise Registration Certificate;
- An authorization letter in case a person who submits the application dossier is not the company’s legal representative.
The dossier for registration of the demand for foreign workers will be submitted directly to the Department of Labor – Invalids and Social Affairs, where the foreigner is expected to work, or you can apply online at http://dvc.vieclamvietnam.gov.vn.
The processing time for the application will be ten (10) working days from receiving the complete and valid dossier.
Step 2: Preparing the application documents to apply for a work permit
As a next step, the employer needs to prepare an application dossier for a work permit for foreigners, including the following documents:
- An application form for a work permit of the employer according to Form No. 11/PL1 of the Appendix issued together with Decree No. 152/2020/ND-CP.
- A health certificate issued by a competent medical facility of a foreign country or Vietnam within 12 months before the submission date of the application dossier or a certificate as prescribed by the Minister of Health of Vietnam.
- A criminal record or a letter issued by a competent foreign agency certifying that the foreign worker is not a criminal or subject to criminal prosecution. This record or certificate must be issued within 06 months before submitting the application dossier.
- 02 color photos (4x6cm, white background, front view, without colored glasses). They must be taken less than 06 months before the submission
- 01 notarized copy of valid passport and visa;
- Written approval of the demand for foreign workers, issued by the Department of Labor – Invalids and Social Affairs where the employer is headquartered;
- A legalized copy of the documents proving that the foreigner is eligible to apply for a work permit, accompanied by a certified Vietnamese translation;
- A notarized copy of the enterprise registration certificate of the employer;
- A labor contract.
Step 3: Submitting an application dossier for a work permit in Vietnam
At least 15 days before the expected date the foreign worker starts working, the employer must submit the application dossier for a work permit to the Department of Labor – Invalids and Social Affairs.
Step 4: Receiving results
Within five (5) working days from the submission date of the complete and valid application dossier for a work permit, the employer will be issued a work permit according to Form 12/PLI. In case of refusal to issue a work permit, the competent State agency shall notify the employer of the reason.
Filing fees for applying for a Vietnamese work permit
Under Circular 85/2019/TT-BTC, filing fees for a work permit for foreigners in Vietnam will vary from province to province, depending on where the application is submitted. Employers of foreign workers shall pay the filing fees.
For instance, in Ho Chi Minh City, the filing fee for a new work permit is VND 600,000. Meanwhile, in Hanoi, it is VND 400,000 for the same. The current highest filing fee is VND 1,000,000 and may change from time to time depending on changes in the foreign labor policy of the competent State agencies.
Validity of Work Permits in Vietnam
Decree No. 152/2020/ND-CP stipulates that the maximum term of a work permit in Vietnam is 02 years and can be extended once for the next 02 years (according to the procedure for extension of Vietnam work permits).
When the extended work permits expire, the employers must apply for new work permits for the same foreign workers.
Penalties for violations of work permit regulations
The cases in which employers are sanctioned for violating the regulations on work permits of foreigners in Vietnam are as follows:
- Employers hire foreign workers in Vietnam without work permits;
- There is no written confirmation that it is exempt from work permits;
- Hiring foreign workers with expired work permits.
The above violations shall be imposed a monetary fine according to the following regulations:
- A fine ranging from VND 30,000,000 to VND 45,000,000 for violations from 01 to 10 employees;
- A fine ranging from VND 45,000,000 to VND 60,000,000 for violations from 11 to 20 employees;
A fine ranging from VND 60,000,000 to VND 75,000,000 for violations of 21 or more employees.
For foreign workers
A fine of VND 15,000,000 to VND 25,000,000 shall be imposed on a foreign worker who violates one of the following acts:
- Working without a work permit or without a written confirmation that it is subject to work permit exemption;
- Using an expired work permit or invalid written confirmation that it is exempt from work permits;
In addition to monetary fines, foreign workers shall also be deported from Vietnam.
LTS LAW – Reputable Work Permit Registration Service for Foreigners in Vietnam
Foreigners working for Vietnamese companies or foreign-invested companies in Vietnam must have a legal work permit (except for cases exempt from work permits).
You can apply for a work permit directly to the competent State agencies. However, the laws of Vietnam may constantly change from time to time, leading to the procedures for applying for a work permit in Vietnam becoming more complicated. The multi-step process and the preparation of many legal documents can make it difficult for foreign workers, especially those applying for a work permit for the first time.
Understanding this difficulty of many foreign clients, LTS LAW has developed a work permit application service for foreigners to:
- Update clients with the latest regulations on Vietnamese work permits;
- Guide clients in detail on the preparation of the necessary legal documents for a work permit in Vietnam;
- Check the validity of the application dossier in terms of substance and formality;
- Carry out procedures at competent State agencies on client’s behalf, saving time for clients;
- Update the status of processing work permit applications on a timely basis.
With our team of experienced lawyers and consultants, we can process your work permit applications quickly and affordably. Please contact LTS LAW immediately for the most detailed advice!