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Finding Employment

Vietnam - Finding Employment

Despite the rigid system of work permits for every expat who wants to work in Vietnam for more than three months, the numbers of people arriving to work in the country has increased each year, and now reaches almost six digits. The government has therefore reviewed the work permit system, and introduced important exemptions to the rules under Decree 11, which took effect on 1 April 2016.

If you are eligible for an exemption, your employer must officially request exemption documents from the ministry of labour, war invalids and social welfare. This must be done at least seven days before you start work. The process is much less onerous than obtaining a work permit. There are a variety of employment conditions which allow you to be eligible for the exemption.

If your company has transferred you to Vietnam, and they operate in one of eleven sectors, then you do not need to obtain a work permit regardless of whether you are there for a short-term or a long-term role. However, you will still need to obtain a visa to enter the country. These eleven sectors are:

• Business
• Finance
• Information Technology
• Health
• Construction
• Distribution
• Transportation
• Tourism
• Environment
• Entertainment
• Education

Exemption rules apply to teachers arriving to work in international schools, under the control of international organizations. Teachers can arrive to take up work for any length of time, without having to obtain a work permit. Fluent English-speaking teachers who hold at least a bachelor’s degree and have experience in the classroom will be a popular choice for international school recruitment. Teachers for local state schools must be authorised by the ministry of education and training. It is usually difficult for migrants to obtain teaching jobs in state schools.

Authorized volunteers from international organizations, experts working on official development assistance projects, and international students working as interns in Vietnam are all exempt from work permit requirements.

Professionals who are coming to do short-term work in Vietnam without a company transfer, who hold a bachelor’s degree and have at least three years of experience in their field do not have to obtain either a work permit or an exemption certificate. However, these conditions are strictly applied. You have to be deemed a manager, an executive director, an expert or a technician. Plus, you may not work in the country for more than 30 days at a time, or 90 days in total during the year.

There are also exemptions for those who own companies.

If you don’t meet any of these exemption requirements, you will need to obtain a work permit. These are obtained from the ministry for labour, war invalids and social welfare. You must submit the application at least 15 days before you start working in Vietnam, and enclose the mandatory supporting information:

• A notarized copy of your passport
• Two recent colour photographs of passport standard
• A medical certificate issued in Vietnam or elsewhere, issued within the past 12 months
• A criminal record from your country of origin, or Vietnam if you have been living there already
• Official evidence of your professional qualifications, skills and experience
• An employer’s written request for your work permit
• Evidence from the employer of the grounds for hiring an expat rather than a Vietnamese citizen
• Payment of the official fee

If you are granted a work permit, which will be valid for two years, you and your employer must sign an employment contract before sending a copy to the ministry of labour, war invalids and social welfare.

Holding a work permit or exemption certificate will help you obtain a temporary residence card.

If you need to renew your work permit, you can do so up to 45 days before it expires. The final deadline is five days before the expiry date.

If you work in Vietnam without receiving a work permit or the exemption certificate, or continue to work once these have expired without obtaining a renewal, you will be expelled from the country. This will happen quickly; the local department of labour is expected to request your deportation within fifteen days. This will also impact on your ability to re-enter the country at a later date.

Vietnam has a relatively young population; more than a quarter of all residents are children. As the income for the country and households increase, more families are educating their young to degree level. However, average income levels are still very low, with most work centred around unskilled or low qualification work. Young graduates from families without the right connections struggle to find work experience which has the potential to develop a professional career. There is a significant and increasing skills gap as the private sector in Vietnam brings in ever larger amounts of international business.

As a result, there is a great appetite for recruiting international managers, professionals and other highly qualified staff into Vietnam, especially by companies that already have an international presence. Many expats arrive in Vietnam because their employers have offered them the opportunity to do so.

Salaries and other benefits that are offered to the right candidates for high level management and professional work can be more than 100 times the rate paid to local unqualified staff in unskilled work.

IT, banking and finance, law, health and pharmaceuticals and engineering are all sectors which have a constant demand for graduates with relevant experience and strong CVs. Vietnam Works, Glassdoor and Reed are some of the companies advertising vacancies in Vietnam.

The Federal Government Jobs website lists an interesting range of skilled federal jobs available in a number of countries, including Vietnam.

VUFO-NGO lists available paid and unpaid positions offered by charities and NGOs working in Vietnam.

Conversely, this means that Westerners looking for less skilled work will find the job search difficult. Tourist areas may welcome the English language abilities of bar or restaurant staff, but local people will be prepared to work hard for longer hours and may be seen by employers as more reliable.

As Vietnam increases its business with international trade, several countries have established a chamber of commerce there. The British Business Groups Vietnam (BBGV), an accredited British Chamber of Commerce, has been operating since 1998. The US Chamber of Commerce is based in Hanoi, whilst Ho Chi Minh City is home to the American Chamber of Commerce.

Read more about this country

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