All expatriates working in Vietnam must hold a work permit (WP) unless they are exempt under one of the following categories:
- An shareholder of a limited liability company with minimum capital of VND3 billion(~USD130K)(*);
- Chairperson or a member of the Management Council of a joint-stock company with minimum capital of VND3 billion;
- An internal assignee of a foreign enterprise which falls within the 11 business sectors specified in Vietnam’s Schedule of WTO commitments (e.g. construction, transportation etc.)
- A business visitor holding the title of director, executive director, technical specialist entering for less than 30 days per visit and not more than 3 visits per year; or
- A person entering Vietnam to perform the duties of establishing commercial presence in Vietnam.
(*) the regulation is unclear whether the VND3 billion requirement is applicable to each company or each individual. In practice, it applies to each individual who is named in the Investment Registration Certificate or the Enterprise Registration Certificate as one of the owners, investors, shareholders and rather than as a representative of a corporate shareholder. This is despite that the law includes “a representative of a foreign organisation investing in Vietnam”, which causes confusion.
WP exemption is not automatic and not valid until the person eligible for exemption has notified the labor authority of his/her in writing and such notice is accepted.
A work permit must be obtained at least 15 days before arrival in Vietnam. In practice, an applicant may apply for work permit after arrival in Vietnam under any entry visa. A WP is valid up to 2 years and is renewable.
The rules for work visas are summarised below:
|Type of visa
|Who is eligible
|A individual investor or a representative of a corporate investor investing in a company in Vietnam:
Up to 5 years.
|The same person as above:
|The same person as above investing from VND3 billion or above but less than VND50 billion.
|Up to 3 years.
|The same person as above investing less than VND3 billion.
|Up to 12 months.
|LD1-Visa & LD2-Visa
|Individuals who are either exempt from, or required to have, a work permit, respectively.
Up to 2 years.
|All above visas are multiple entry visas and renewable. A visa holder may apply for change of type of visa if he/she becomes eligible for another type of visa.
Temporary Residence Card (TRC)
Persons eligible for a TRC include:
|Type of TRC
|Who is eligible
|Up to 10 years
|Up to 5 years
|Up to 3 years
|Up to 2 years
TRCs are optional and renewable. Holders of a valid TRC may be exempt from a work visa. They may also apply for change of TRC type if they become eligible to another type of TRC.
- DT4-Visa holders are not eligible for TRC.
- TRC holders may sponsor their relatives’ visits to Vietnam and their spouse and children below 18 may live in Vietnam with them.
- TRC holders are exempt from a visa as long as their TRC is valid, and they may apply for a Vietnam driver’s license and legally own properties (e.g. vehicles, apartments etc.) in Vietnam.