What are the changes? The Labor Department in Ho Chi Minh City has put all work permit applications and renewals on temporary hold until it receives guidance on how to apply a new law that took effect on Nov. 1.

What does the change mean? The temporary hold will cause delays for new and renewal work permit applications filed in Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Implementation timeframe: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permit applications.
  • Who is affected: Applicants for new and renewal work permit applications.
  • Impact on processing times: There may be a significant negative impact on processing times, given that the government has not indicated when it will issue a circular to clarify the rules for the labor department. If the hold continues, it is likely to cause a backlog.
  • Business impact: A long delay will negatively impact businesses that rely on foreign employees.
  • Next steps: Submit work permit applications as soon as possible in anticipation of delays and backlogs, particularly in Ho Chi Minh City. The Labor Departments in other cities may also implement a hold on work permit applications if the government does not provide guidance soon.

Background: Decree 102 went into effect on Nov. 1, and changed the work permit process. The new law created a new category of “technical workers,” exempted some workers from work permit requirements, changed requirements for work permit applications and renewals, and required employers to report on hiring of foreign nationals.

The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) was expected to publish a circular before Nov. 1 to explain how the new law will be implemented, but has not done so.

Because of the delay in the circular, the Labor Department in Ho Chi Minh City has put a hold on the processing of new and renewal work permit applications.

The Labor Department in Ho Chi Minh City has pointed to two provisions in the law that are particularly unclear. One provision requires local Labor Departments to get approval letters from the local People’s Committee before granting any work permits. However, the law does not explain the process. The second provision in question states that for some job categories, an applicant must submit both a legalized diploma and a working testimonial. Because the law is unclear about which jobs fall under the new requirement, the Labor Department in Ho Chi Minh City has said it may stop accepting some applications for experts, managers and technical engineers until MOLISA gives guidance.

BAL analysis: The hold will cause temporary, possibly lengthy, disruptions to work permit processing. BAL is following these developments and will alert clients when the hold is lifted and the new rules have been clarified.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact