03 practical notes on the procedure for obtaining work permits for foreign employees in Vietnam

In the post-Covid 19 period, Vietnam is implementing economic recovery measures and removing restrictions on foreign employees (“FE”). This has created favorable conditions for enterprises to hire highly skilled FE.

However, in practice, enterprises now face many difficulties and a long processing period for a work permit (“WP”) application for the FE.

In this article, BLawyers Vietnam would like to present three practical notes when applying for a WP for the FE in Vietnam.

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1. Note on the form for submitting a WP dossier

Under Vietnamese laws, at least 15 working days before the date the FE is expected to start working for the employer, the employer must submit a dossier of application for a WP for the FE to the local Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (“DOLISA”).

Currently, competent authorities have digitized administrative procedures and receive work permit dossiers submitted via websites. All WP dossiers are received online and DOLISA will review or guide employers to amend and supplement dossiers, if necessary, before issuing results. However, the number of WP dossiers submitted online is now high, overloading the electronic administrative management system and prolonging the processing of documents. Therefore, to avoid this situation, DOLISA has encouraged employers to submit a paper application directly while also submitting the online dossiers on the website.

Thus, the simultaneous submission of a WP dossier online and hard copies directly is expected to facilitate the processing of the dossier.

2. Note on preparing the WP application

Employers need to pay attention to the following issues when preparing WP application dossiers for the FE:

(i) Determining the right job position and corresponding working form

To fully and accurately prepare WP application dossiers for the FE, the employer should pay attention and determine the exact job position for the FE (i.e., manager, executive director, expert, technical worker) and their corresponding working form.

According to the laws, each job position and corresponding working form requires different documents. Therefore, the accurate determination will help to prepare the dossier quickly and accurately as well as limit the situation of having to re-submit the application because of an incorrect job position or working form.

(ii) Consular legalization and authentication of foreign documents

One issue that employers must pay special attention to is the consular legalization of foreign documents for use in Vietnam. According to regulations, if the WP application dossier for the FE includes foreign documents, they must be consular legalized and translated into Vietnamese and certified, except for cases of legalization exemption under international treaties to which Vietnam is a member or as prescribed by law.

In many practical cases, if the employer does not legalize foreign documents, translate them into Vietnamese, and certify them according to regulations, these documents will be deemed invalid and DOLISA may refuse to accept the application. Therefore, when preparing WP application dossiers for the FE, employers should pay attention to this issue in order to prepare accurate documents accordingly.

(iii) Validity period of FEs’ documents

The application processing time may be prolonged, resulting in the expiration of the FE’s documents for the WP. For example, a criminal record is valid for 06 months from the date of issuance to the date of application submission, and a health certificate is valid for 12 months from the date of signing the health conclusion to the date of application submission. Employers should note this issue to avoid submitting these documents to DOLISA after the validity period has expired.

When these documents expire, the FE must prepare them again, which will cost time and money for both the employer and the FE. Therefore, the employer must supervise the processing of the application to prepare appropriate and valid documents.

3. Note on the obligation of the employer to send the labor contract to the work permit-issuing agency

The employer should note that for the FE who is working under the working form of a labor contract, after obtaining WP for FE, the employer must sign a written labor contract with the FE in accordance with Vietnamese labor law before the expected date of employment.

The employer must send the signed labor contract to the competent authority that issued the WP. The labor contract could be the original or a certified-as-true copy.

If the employer fails to send the original or certified-as-true copy of the labor contract after the FE is granted the WP to the issuing authority, the employer will be fined from VND1,000,000 to VND3,000,000. This fine level applies to individual employers, while the fine level for organizational employers is equal to 02 times the fine level for individuals.

In short, employers should note the above points when carrying out the procedure for applying for a WP in order to prepare documents and expedite the process and save time.

The above is not official advice from BLawyers Vietnam. If you have any questions or suggestions about the above, please contact us at consult@blawyersvn.com. We would love to hear from you.

Date: 05 April 2023

Writers: Linh Nguyen & Minh Truong

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