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Foreigners working without a work permit in Vietnam

A work permit is a legal document that allows employees of foreign nationality to work legally in Vietnam. Currently, the situation of foreign employees entering Vietnam to work “illegally” without a work permit is increasingly common. In this article below, Viet An Law will provide legal regulations related to foreigners working without a work permit in Vietnam.

Vietnam work permits

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    Legal basis

    • Labor Code 2019;
    • Decree 152/2020/ND-CP regulating foreign employees working in Vietnam and recruitment and management of Vietnamese employees working for foreign organizations and individuals in Vietnam, as amended and supplemented by Decree 70/2023/ND-CP.
    • Decree 12/2022/ND-CP on regulations on sanctions for administrative violations in the fields of labor, social insurance, and Vietnamese employees working abroad under contracts.

    Obligation to obtaining work permit in Vietnam

    A work permit is one of the conditions for foreign employees to work legally in Vietnam according to Article 151 of the Labor Code 2019. The maximum term of a work permit is 02 years, in case of extension. can only be extended once for a maximum period of 02 years.

    To be granted a work permit, employees need to carry out procedures for applying for a work permit according to the procedures specified in Decree 152/2020/ND-CP, amended and supplemented by Decree 70/2023/ND-CP.

    Except for cases not subject to work permits according to Article 154 of the Labor Code 2019, all cases of foreign employees coming to work in Vietnam must apply for a work permit.

    Handling foreign employees without work permit in Vietnam

    According to Article 153 of the Labor Code 2019, foreign employees working in Vietnam without a work permit will be forced to leave or deported according to the provisions of the Law on Entry, exit, transit, and residence of foreigners in Vietnam. Employers who employ foreign employees to work for them without a work permit will be handled according to the provisions of the law.

    Thus, when foreign employees work without a work permit, both the employee and the employer can be punished. Specifically:

    Sanctions for employees

    According to Clause 3, Article 32 of Decree 12/2022/ND-CP, foreign employees working in Vietnam without a work permit or using an expired work permit will be fined from 15,000,000 VND to 25,000,000 VND (for each individual).

    In addition, employees without a work permit may also be subject to additional penalties such as the deportation of foreign employees working in Vietnam according to the provisions of the Law on Entry, exit, transit. This is a much more severe penalty than the administrative fine above.

    Sanctions for employers

    According to Clause 4, Article 32 of Decree 12/2022/ND-CP, employers who commit acts of employing foreign employees to work in Vietnam without a work permit or using foreign employees with An expired work permit may be subject to administrative sanctions at one of the following levels:

    • From 30,000,000 VND to 45,000,000 VND for violations from 01 person to 10 people;
    • From 45,000,000 VND to 60,000,000 VND for violations of 11 to 20 people;
    • From 60,000,000 VND to 75,000,000 VND for violations of 21 people or more.

    Note: In case the employer is an enterprise, the penalty level will be doubled.

    Cases that do not require a work permit

    Cases that do not require a work permit are specified in Article 154 of the Labor Code 2019. The majority of exempt cases are outside the private economic sector. Furthermore, some subjects must also carry out certain legal procedures to enter Vietnam, so they do not need a work permit to reduce administrative procedures in this field.

    Although they do not have to apply for a work permit, these subjects should note that they still need to carry out procedures to confirm that foreign employees are not subject to a work permit or report procedures to state agencies. If this procedure is not followed, especially in businesses, administrative fines will still be applied similar to cases of not having a legal work permit in Vietnam.

    Confirm that foreign employees are not subject to a work permit

    In case of applying for confirmation

    According to Article 8 of Decree 152/2020/ND-CP, amended and supplemented by Decree 70/2023/ND-CP, the following cases require confirmation that foreign employees are not subject to the issuance of a work permit:

    • Be the Head of a representative office, or project or be primarily responsible for the activities of an international organization or foreign non-governmental organization in Vietnam.
    • Entering Vietnam for less than 3 months to handle problems, and complex technical and technological situations that arise that affect or threaten to affect production and business that Vietnamese experts and Foreigners currently in Vietnam cannot handle.
    • In cases under the provisions of international treaties to which the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a member.
    • Moving within an enterprise within the scope of 11 service industries in Vietnam’s service commitment schedule with the World Trade Organization.
    • Entering Vietnam to provide professional and technical consulting services or perform other tasks serving research, development, appraisal, monitoring, evaluation, management, and program implementation, The project uses official development assistance (ODA) according to regulations or agreements in international treaties on ODA signed between competent agencies of Vietnam and foreign countries.
    • Licensed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to operate information and press activities in Vietnam according to the provisions of law.
    • Being sent to Vietnam by a foreign agency or organization to teach and research at an international school under the management of a foreign diplomatic representative agency or the United Nations; establishments and organizations established under agreements that Vietnam has signed and participated in.
    • Enter Vietnam to implement international agreements signed by agencies and organizations at the central and provincial levels according to the provisions of law.
    • Pupils and students studying at schools and training facilities abroad have internship agreements with agencies, organizations, and businesses in Vietnam; interns and trainees on Vietnamese ships.
    • Have an official passport to work for state agencies, political organizations, or socio-political organizations.
    • The person responsible for establishing a commercial presence.
    • Certified by the Ministry of Education and Training for foreign employees entering Vietnam to teach and research.

    The application for confirmation is not subject to a work permit

    • Written request to confirm that foreign employees are not subject to a work permit.
    • A health certificate or health examination certificate issued by a competent foreign or Vietnamese medical agency or organization is valid for 12 months, from the date of signing the health conclusion to the date of application submission. Document or certificate of good health according to regulations of the Minister of Health.
    • Document approving the need to use foreign employees, except in cases where the need to use foreign employees is not required.
    • Certified copy of valid passport according to law.
    • Documents to prove that foreign employees are not subject to a work permit.

    Application method

    Employers submit applications directly or via postal service or submit applications via online public services (if any) to the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (Department of Employment) or Department of Labor – Invalids and Society where the foreign employee is expected to work at least 10 days in advance from the date the foreign employee starts working.

    Report to state agencies

    The case must be reported

    According to Article 8 of Decree 152/2020/ND-CP, amended and supplemented by Decree 70/2023/ND-CP, the following subjects are not required to carry out procedures to confirm that foreign employees are not eligible to issue a work permit but must report to the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs or the Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs where the foreign employee is expected to work :

    • Enter Vietnam for less than 03 months to offer services.
    • Be a foreign lawyer who has been granted a License to practice law in Vietnam according to the provisions of the Law on Lawyers.
    • Foreigners marry Vietnamese people and live in Vietnamese territory.
    • Be an owner or capital contributing member of a limited liability company with a capital contribution value of 3 billion VND or more.
    • Be the Chairman of the Board of Directors or member of the Board of Directors of a joint stock company with a capital contribution value of 3 billion VND or more.
    • Enter Vietnam to work as a manager, executive director, expert, or technical employee with a working period of less than 30 days and no more than 03 times in 01 year.
    • Relatives of members of foreign representative agencies in Vietnam.

    Application method

    The employer reports to the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs or the Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs where the foreign employee is expected to work information: full name, age, nationality, number of passport, name of foreign employer, start date and end date of work at least 3 days in advance from the date the foreign employee is expected to start working in Vietnam.

    Legal service for work permit in Vietnam by Viet An Law

    • Legal advice on work permits for foreigners in Vietnam;
    • Drafting documents, papers, and documents that need to be prepared to apply for a work permit;
    • Representatives of businesses and employees carry out procedures for applying for work permits at competent state agencies;
    • Regular legal advice after being granted a work permit, such as applying for a temporary residence card for foreign employees.

    Above is the legal advice from Viet An Law regarding the case of foreigners working without a work permit in Vietnam that we received from clients. If you have any questions or need legal service support regarding Work Permits, please contact Viet An Law for the best support.

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