Visas and Work Permits 10 min

Work permits and visas in Vietnam: an employer’s guide

Written by Sally Flaxman
February 14, 2024
Sally Flaxman


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Employers are no longer restricted by geographical boundaries and have the freedom to hire remote employees from anywhere in the world. Whether a company has employees working remotely or moving abroad for work, it’s important to know the local labor laws and regulations. If your employee wants to work in Vietnam or move there, you’ll have to make sure they have the proper work visas and permits; otherwise, it could lead to financial penalties or deportation.

Additionally, you’ll have to make sure you hire, onboard, and pay workers in Vietnam following local labor laws and tax practices. To overcome these hassles, many employers choose to work with an employer of record (EOR) like Remote who can handle benefits, global payroll, international taxes, and compliance with employment regulations in Vietnam.

In this guide, we’ll explain the work permit and visa requirements for Vietnam and take you through the processes involved.

What types of visas does Vietnam offer?

Vietnam offers several visa options for individuals who want to live or work in the country.

  • Business visa (DN visa). Business visas are for those visiting Vietnam for business purposes, such as attending a meeting or signing a contract. Business visas are issued for up to 12 months, but the visitor cannot exceed 90 days of work during that period, beyond which they will need a work visa. 

  • Diplomatic visa (NG visa). Diplomatic visas are visas for foreign diplomats and government officials and also extend to their families.

  • Investor visa (DT visa). Investor visas are for foreigners who are entering Vietnam to invest in a local business.

  • Student or internship visa (DH). Student or internship visas are used for those studying at an educational institution or attending an internship in Vietnam.

  • Tourist visa. Tourist visas are 30-day visas for those looking to visit the country for recreational and tourism purposes.

  • Transit visa. Transit visas are used for those traveling through Vietnam who plan to leave the transit area during layovers.

Obtaining a work visa for Vietnam

Before a Vietnamese company can hire a foreign worker, they must publicly recruit for the position within Vietnam. The job must be posted on a public forum like a newspaper or online portal, and they need to post it at least 30 days before recruiting a foreign employee. 

Suppose the company is unable to find a Vietnamese citizen who can fill the role. In that case, they must get approval from the Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MoLISA) to hire a foreigner. The application for this approval should be submitted about 15 days before the foreign employee starts their job. Generally, MoLISA will only approve workers who are experts, executive directors, and managers, and only if local hires do not meet the requirements for the job.

Vietnam work permits

Before an employee can obtain a work visa, they must first get a work permit or be in the process of getting a work permit. The work permit allows the employee to legally work in Vietnam for more than three months. Work permits are issued for 12 months, but they are renewable if the employee requires more than 12 months.

The employer is responsible for submitting the work permit application. However, while most employees will require a work permit, not all do. Those who do not require a work permit include:

  • Employees who will be working in Vietnam for less than three months

  • Employees who are being transferred internationally

  • Employees who are members or owners of a limited company

  • Employees who are board members in a joint-stock company

  • Employees working in service sales for a foreign company in Vietnam

  • Lawyers with a professional permit from the Vietnamese Ministry of Justice

  • Volunteers certified by an international organization in Vietnam or a foreign diplomatic mission

Vietnam work permit requirements

The application process for work permits in Vietnam requires the employee to meet specific requirements. These include:

  • The applicant must be 18 years old or older.

  • The applicant must be in good health and be able to fulfill the physical requirements of the job.

  • The applicant must not have a criminal record or be facing criminal prosecution in their home country or Vietnam.

  • The applicant must have their necessary documents legalized by their home country and then legalized by the Vietnamese government when the applicant arrives.

Documents needed for a Vietnam work permit

Both employers and employees are required to prepare documentation as part of the work permit application process.

Companies and employers must submit:

  • The Vietnam work permit application form

  • Approval from MoLISA

  • The company’s business registration certificate

  • The employee’s work contract

While the employer is ultimately the one who turns in the documents, the employee will need to supply some documents to the employer. These include:

  • Copies of the employee’s degrees and qualifications

  • Proof of the employee’s professional background

  • A criminal background certificate clearing the employee of any criminal background

  • A health certificate stating that the employee is in good health

  • A recent, passport-sized photo that meets the Vietnam visa photo requirements

Vietnam work permit processing time, cost, and extensions

The cost of applying for a work permit will depend on where the employer filed the paperwork in Vietnam. The cost will vary between different provinces and cities.

So long as all paperwork is in order, it will take about 15 business days for MoLISA to approve the hire. After this, the employer can file for the permit. If this paperwork is also in order, the permit is typically granted within five business days. To be safe, the government recommends that employers begin the process 30 days before the foreigner is expected to start their new job.

A work permit is valid for up to two years, and the employer can extend the permit for an additional two years. After the second extension expires, the employer will need to reapply for their employee’s work permit. If the company shuts down or terminates the employee’s contract, the work permit may also be terminated.

Obtaining a Vietnam work visa

Once the employer has started the application for the work permit, the employee can begin the process of applying for a work visa. 

The eligibility requirements for a work permit are the same as the eligibility requirements for a work visa.

Vietnam work visa requirements

There are two ways an employee can apply for a work visa: at an embassy or consulate or upon arrival in Vietnam. Regardless of what way they decide to apply, the Vietnam work visa requirements include the following documents:

  • A passport that is valid for at least an additional six months

  • A recent, passport-sized photo that meets the Vietnam visa photo requirements, as listed above

  • If an employee is applying at an embassy or consulate, the specific documents for this process

  • If an employee is applying for a visa on arrival, the specific documents for this process

Documents needed for a visa application at an embassy or consulate include:

  • A Vietnam visa application form, which can be obtained online or at the embassy or consulate

  • A letter of sponsorship or entry clearance from the employer

  • Any additional documents that the embassy or consulate in the employee’s country requires, like a letter of invitation

Documents needed for a visa on arrival include:

  • A pre-obtained letter of approval from the Vietnamese Immigration Department

  • Entry and exit forms, which the airline hands out. The employee must fill them out before handing them in at the port of entry.

  • Cash to pay for the Vietnam visa stamping fee, which will depend on how long the employee is staying in the country

Where to apply for a Vietnam work visa on arrival

Visitors applying for a visa on arrival can do so at one of the following ports of entry:

  • Cam Ranh Airport in Nha Trang

  • Cat Bi Airport in Hai Phong

  • Danang Airport in Da Nang

  • Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi

  • Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam work visa length of validity and temporary residence cards

In Vietnam, the government issues work visas for one month, three months, six months, or one year. They also issue visas for single entry or multiple entry.

If the employee plans to remain in Vietnam longer-term, they can apply for a temporary residence card once they have their work permit. The Immigration Services of Vietnam issues these cards, which are valid for two to five years, and allow employees to come and go without a visa during that time.

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Do digital nomads and freelancers need work visas and work permits in Vietnam?

Digital nomads and freelancers visiting Vietnam do not need a work visa or work permit, as long as the company or companies they are working for are not based in Vietnam. However, they still require a visa to enter the country. Since Vietnam doesn’t offer a digital nomad visa or program, most remote workers and freelancers will enter the country on a tourist visa or eVisa

There are three ways to apply for a tourist visa. Travelers can apply at an embassy or consulate or can apply on arrival, as described above. Travelers can also apply online by submitting an eVisa application through the Vietnam Immigration portal.

Applying for an eVisa

Applying for an eVisa is not very difficult. Once the employee starts their online application, they need to:

  • Attach a scanned copy of their passport as well as a passport-sized photo

  • Complete the application by filling in their personal information and answering questions about their travel plans

  • Review the application

  • Pay the visa fee

  • Wait for the government to process the application, which typically takes three business days

  • Check the application status to find out if the government approved their application

  • Download the provided PDF of the approved application and print out two copies

When arriving at one of the approved points of entry, the traveler must present the printed visa to the relevant immigration officials. Approved ports of entry include several airports, land border crossings, and seaports.

How Remote makes compliance in Vietnam so much easier

When you have employees across the globe, you must comply with local labor laws or face financial or legal risks. Working with an employer of record, like Remote, can ease this burden for you and your HR team.

Working with Remote makes international hiring simple. From handling taxes, benefits, and payroll to compliance with local labor laws and immigration regulations, Remote takes the headache out of employing workers abroad. Remote’s specialist team has the local knowledge and expertise to advise you on every aspect of hiring or relocating employees abroad.

To understand the processes involved in employee relocation, download Remote’s Relocation Guide today! Alternatively, contact our Mobility experts for advice on how to proceed with relocating your employees abroad.

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