According to Ho Chi Minh City’s police department, there are presently 50,000 foreigners residing in the city. Of these, say the labour authorities, only 14,500 have work permits. As a result, writes Thanh Nien, “Labour authorities are seeking stricter measures to curb the rising number of foreign workers working in the city illegally.”
Such measures may include requiring “foreign workers to acquire a labour permit before entering Vietnam. The body also said immigration agencies should not be allowed to extend visas for foreigners working in the country without the permit.”
The website adds: “Department officials have suggested that the Ministry of Public Security tighten regulations to nip the problem in the bud at immigration and customs.”
An interview with the Minister of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs published on VietnamNet echoes the same concerns.
Says the minister: “What is clear is that most of these workers come to Vietnam on tourist visas and they are not approved to work… The question is how to manage them?”
Whether all of this will be enforced is yet to be seen. However, for anyone concerned at the above, there are a number of options available.
1) Permanent Residency
In theory, a permanent residency card avoids the need for a work permit. It also gives holders visa-free entry to Vietnam. This is available to people who:
a) Have been unjustifiably oppressed while fighting for people’s freedom and independence, socialism, democracy and peace or for a scientific cause.
b) Have made contributions in building and protecting the fatherland of Vietnam.
c) Are the wife, husband, child, father or mother of a Vietnamese citizen residing permanently in Vietnam.
2) Labour Permits
A recent simplification of the law has made this application far easier. However, you will have to go through your employer to arrange the permit and for tax reasons, not all Vietnamese employers want to get permits for their staff.
The two major changes with this application are that you now no longer need a police report from your home country if you have been residing in a city or province of Vietnam for six months or more. Instead, you need to apply for a background check from the local So tu phap (Department of Justice). In addition, providing you can prove you have been working in your field of expertise for over five years, then a university degree is unnecessary. However, it remains desirable.
What the outcome of the present situation will be is unclear. However, one thing is certain. The authorities only want foreigners to be here if they are deemed ‘desirable’.