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Asia Briefing

Guide to Work Visas, Permits in Vietnam

Documents necessary for a foreign worker in Vietnam include visas, work permits, and temporary residence cards.

In recent years, the number of expats coming to Vietnam has steadily increased. The majority of foreign workers who come to Vietnam are employees of foreign contractors working for or establishing foreign direct investment (FDI) projects.

When hiring foreign staff in Vietnam, a number of procedures and legal frameworks must be understood. In this article, we discuss the documents necessary for a foreign worker in Vietnam, including visas, work permits, and temporary residence cards.

For a work visa to be authentic, it must be issued by the Vietnam Embassy or Consulate. It is possible for a visa to be obtained through a third-party country or during the duration of a trip in Vietnam on a tourist visa. Specifically, Asian-Pacific expats are eligible to receive a free entry visa for 15-30 days. If a foreigner plans to work in Vietnam for an extended period of time, the following types of visas may be procured depending on the nature of the expat’s planned employment:

Work Permits

A work permit is usually required if an expat plans to work longer than three months in Vietnam. For companies seeking to employ foreign nationals, a recruitment plan by the company must be submitted at least 30 days in advance of the workers’ arrival at the provincial Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (DoLISA). If any more information is needed, refer to Circular 03/2014 as a reference. Below is a list of basic information regarding Vietnam work permits:

  • Eligibility
    • At least 18 years of age
    • In good enough health to satisfy job requirements
    • A manager, executive director, or expert with technical skills and knowledge necessary for the job
    • Not currently subject to criminal prosecution or any criminal sentence in Vietnam or overseas
    • Does not have a criminal record
  • Requirements
    • Existing demand for foreign workers
    • Number of foreign workers to be recruited
    • Qualifications, titles, work experience
    • Salary expectations
    • Periods of employment
    • Clean criminal record
    • If the worker takes a management position, relevant documents must prove this

Note:  For workers to be considered experts in the field, they must present the following:

  1. A document proving relevant qualifications (minimum allowed is a bachelor’s degree) and at least five years’ work experience in the relevant field; or
  2. A document from an authorized agency that certifies the worker as an expert

To be considered technical workers, they must provide:

  1. A document or certificate that proves the worker has received at least one year of training in the technical field; and
  2. Paperwork that shows the worker has at least three years’ work experience in the field within which he/she will work in Vietnam.

Work Permit Termination

Work permits will become null and void in any of the following circumstances:

  1. Expiration of work permit
  2. Termination of labor contract
  3. The content of the labor contract is deemed inconsistent with the work permit granted
  4. The foreign employee is fired by the foreign employer
  5. Withdrawal of work permit by authorized state agencies
  6. Termination of operation of the company, organization, and partners in Vietnam
  7. The foreigner is sentenced to prison, dies, or is proclaimed missing by the court


For those seeking to avoid the complications associated with acquiring a work permit, the following exceptions will allow employees to enter the country without having first obtained a work permit:

  1. Working in Vietnam for less than three months
  2. A member of a limited liability company with two or more members
  3. The owner of a limited liability company with one member
  4. A member of the board of a joint stock company
  5. Coming to Vietnam to market products and services
  6. Coming to Vietnam for less than three months in order to resolve an emergency or technologically complex situation that could affect production that Vietnamese experts or foreign experts currently in Vietnam are unable to resolve
  7. Lawyers granted a professional permit in Vietnam
  8. Heads of representative offices, chiefs of project offices, or someone working for a foreign non-government organization in Vietnam
  9. Internally transferred within an enterprise that has a commercial presence in the committed service list of Vietnam with the World Trade Organization (WTO), including: business service, information service, construction services, distribution service, education service, environmental service, financial service, health service, tourism service, cultural and recreational services, and transportation service
  10. Coming to Vietnam to supply consulting services on tasks serving to research, build, appraise, monitor and evaluate, manage, and process programs and projects that use Official Development Assistance (ODA) in accordance with the regulations or agreements in an international treaty on ODA signed between an authorized Vietnam agency and foreign agency

Temporary Residence Cards

Foreigners and senior management who currently hold work permits valid for a year or more can be granted a Temporary Residence Card (TRC). A TRC is issued by the immigration agency using the Ministry of Public Security, which makes it valid for one to five years. Anyone who is granted a TRC can enter and exit Vietnam without a visa within the terms of a TRC.

Current visa holders of a TRC are B2, B3, or B4 visas. In addition, members of management boards, members of councils and boards of directors, heads of company branches, and chief representatives of representative offices of foreign enterprises in Vietnam are eligible for a TRC.

Original article posted by China Briefing. Since its establishment in 1992, Dezan Shira & Associates has been guiding American investors through Asia’s complex regulatory environment and assisting them with all aspects of legal, accounting, tax, internal control, HR, payroll, and audit matters. As a full-service consultancy with operational offices across China, Hong Kong, India, and emerging ASEAN, including liaison offices in Boston and Waltham specifically established to support our American clients, we are your reliable partner for business expansion in Asia and beyond. For inquiries, email us at [email protected]. For further information about our firm and how we can support American investors in Asia, visit our North American Desk.