Draft decree on work permit changes released

12 Aug 15



What is the change? A much-anticipated revision of the work permit laws is being finalized and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs has detailed key changes in a draft decree.

What does the change mean? The draft decree contains many positive changes for foreign workers, including faster work-permit processing, new exemptions from work permits, more flexible qualifications standards and simplified processing for reissuance of permits when an employee changes location, job or employer.

  • Implementation time frame: The final decree is expected to be submitted to the government for approval in late August or early September and should be implemented in the last quarter of this year.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits, residence permits.
  • Who is affected: All foreign employees.
  • Impact on processing times: The decree is expected to improve processing times. According to the draft, initial work permits will be processed in seven business days.
  • Business impact: The streamlined processing and broader exemption from work permits should reduce the administrative burden on employers.
  • Next steps: The ministry is in the final stages of completing the decree. BAL will report on the final decree as soon as it is announced.

Expected changes: On Aug. 6, the ministry held a consultation and released details of its draft decree. The long-awaited decree supplements the government’s 2013 overhaul of Vietnam’s work-permit regime in Decree 102.

The goals of the new decree are to simplify work-permit application procedures, increase foreign direct investment and make sure that employers consider Vietnamese workers before hiring foreign workers.

Key changes in the current draft include the following:

Processing times. Work-permit applications will be processed in seven business days, with the aim of further reducing it to three working days in the coming years.

Exemptions. Foreign nationals working in Vietnam for less than 30 days per visit will be exempt from work permits and will not be required to provide documentation of qualifications. The exemption will be valid for up to two years. Foreign pupils and students studying in schools or training institutions abroad and going to Vietnam to work in business offices and organizations will also be exempt from work permits.

Qualifications. Foreign experts and specialists will be required to provide a bachelor’s degree (or higher) or engineering qualifications (or equivalent). Individuals who cannot provide either must present evidence of at least five years of work experience in their field.

Health and police clearances. Health certificates showing that an applicant is in good health will be valid for 12 months from the date of examination instead of six months, but should be supplemented with a letter from the employer. Police clearance certificates issued by foreign or Vietnamese authorities will be accepted regardless of the applicant’s residence or duration of stay.

Renewals. Work permit renewals will be accepted up to 45 days before the expiration date on the existing work permit, giving applicants a longer window of time to renew their work permits as well as their temporary residence card or work visa. Foreign employees who move to a new province and seek reissuance of their work permits will go through a simpler process than the current one.

BAL Analysis: While the decree may still undergo changes before it becomes final, the draft version indicates that the government is taking several positive steps to simplify the work permit process and relieve the documentary burden on employers hiring foreign employees in Vietnam.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Vietnam. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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