VIETNAM – New Decree Brings Changes to Work Permit Rules from April 2016

A new decree, in force from April 1, 2016, includes new rules for the issuance, renewal, amendment and annulment of work permits.

Below we outline the key points of Decree 11/2016/ND-CP of February 3, 2016, which replaces Decree 102/2013/ND-CP of September 5, 2013.

Work Permit Exemption for Short Term Assignments

Foreign nationals working in Vietnam for less than 30 days and for a total cumulative period not exceeding 90 days per year shall be exempt from having to obtain a work permit. Furthermore, a work permit exemption certificate is not required in this case. The host entity in Vietnam simply needs to apply for the appropriate visa on behalf of the applicant. There are no additional Labor Department requirements.

Position Approval

A position approval issued by the department of labor is no longer required in support of a work permit application. However, local employers are still required to report their foreign labor demand to the provincial people’s committee. The employer is not required to report their foreign labor demand for short-term work permit exemption cases.

Qualification Documents for Experts and Specialists

The new decree requires both a university degree (or higher) in a related field and evidence of three years’ work experience to qualify for a work permit. Currently, only one of these documents is required.

Work Permit Processing Time

The official processing time for labor department to issue work permits is reduced from 10 to 7 working days.

Work Permit Renewal

Work permit renewal applications will be accepted up to 45 days prior to the current work permit expiry date (compared to 15 days as per current regulations). This will give more time for companies and employees to anticipate the renewal and ensure that all supporting documents are still valid.

Among the documents required for renewal, the current and valid work permit is required. In case of loss, a certification of loss from the local police office or from a competent foreign authority is required. Also it is critical to report to the local authorities immediately upon the loss of a work permit.

Applicants for a work permit renewal will be required to provide one of the following document(s):

  • A certificate from an agency, organization or enterprise from overseas confirming that he/she is an expert in a related field
  • A university degree (or higher) AND a work testimonial proving a minimum of three years’ experience in a related field.

These new requirements will also apply to applications for renewal by holders of work permits issued under the current rules.

Work permit Amendment

The new decree provides guidance on the amendment of work permits in case of

  • A change of employer;
  • A change of position;
  • Work permit expiry.

Documentary requirements for a new work permit in such cases are reduced.

Work permit Annulment

Upon request for annulment of a work permit, as per the new decree, the labor department will provide the company with confirmation of the revocation of the work permit.

Health Certificate

The health certificate document required for a work permit application must have been issued less than twelve months ago (compared to six months ago as per current regulations).

Non-Criminal Record Requirement

The non-criminal record certifying that the work permit applicant does not have a criminal record, and is not subject to criminal prosecution, will be issued by the overseas country. However, if the applicant has been a resident in Vietnam, a local police record must also be issued by a Vietnamese agency. The new decree does not stipulate for how long the applicant should have been living in Vietnam to require a local non-criminal record. Labor departments will likely continue to request a local non-criminal certificate as soon as the applicant has a Vietnam entry stamp on their passport.