Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) recently issued Circular 23/2017/TT-BLDTBXH providing guidance on the online issuance of work permits to foreign employees working in Vietnam, dated 15 August 2017 (Circular 23).
Circular 23 formalizes the online application process for the following permitting procedures under Vietnamese law:
- approval of the demand for employment of foreign workers;
- issuance or re-issuance of work permits for foreign workers; and
- certification of exemption of certain foreign workers from work permit requirements.
Online applications for the above permitting procedures can now be made at http://dvc.vieclamvietnam.gov.vn, a website managed by the MOLISA (Vietnam Jobs Public Service Website). While Circular 23 officially takes effect on 2 October 2017, the Vietnam Jobs Public Service Website became operational in April of 2016 and the MOLISA has been encouraging its use by employers or authorized representatives of employers since this time.
The Vietnam Jobs Public Service Website allows employers or their authorized representatives to upload the application dossier for approval of demand for employment of a foreign worker within 20 days before a foreign employee commences work. The application package will then be assessed by the relevant Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISA) of the province where the foreign employee will work. The online application must be followed by submission of the hard-copy application dossier to the DOLISA in person or by courier. Following receipt, the DOLISA will send an email response to the employer or its authorized representative confirming receipt of a complete application dossier, or requesting further supporting documents.
If an application dossier is deemed complete and no further supporting documents are required, the DOLISA will process the employer’s request within eight working hours. The decision of the DOLISA approving the demand for employment of a foreign worker will then be available for pick-up by the employer or the employer’s authorized representative at the relevant DOLISA.
The same procedures as stated above also apply to issuance and re-issuance of work permits for foreign workers, and certification of foreign workers who are exempt from local work permit requirements. An application dossier to obtain a work permit for a foreign employee must be uploaded onto the Vietnam Jobs Public Service Website within seven working days before the foreign employee commences work. An application dossier to have the work permit of a foreign employee re-issued must be uploaded onto the Vietnam Jobs Public Service Website at least five days but not more than 45 days prior to the expiration of the existing work permit of a foreign employee.
An application dossier to obtain a certification of work permit exemption must be uploaded onto the Vietnam Jobs Public Service Website within five working days before the foreign employee commences work. This process applies only to certain foreign workers who are exempt from the requirement to obtain a work permit, provided that the relevant DOLISA certifies the exemption, such as the capital contributing member or owner of a limited liability company in Vietnam, the member of the board of management of a shareholding company in Vietnam, the head of a representative office or project of a non-governmental organization in Vietnam or in accordance with the provisions of an international treaty to which Vietnam is a member.
An easier process for employers?
By introducing a system of electronic record-keeping for foreign worker permitting processes, Circular 23 allows the MOLISA to better maintain and share information on the permitting of foreign workers through the Vietnam Jobs Public Service Website. Circular 23 also introduces online communication between the relevant DOLISA and employers of foreign workers or their authorized representatives, allowing employers or their representatives to be informed, in a short period of time after submission of application documents, if an application has been accepted or if further supporting documents are required.
On the downside, the processes introduced by Circular 23 are not entirely electronic and still require an employer to submit a hard-copy application dossier following any online application. Furthermore, the approvals, work permits and certificates that are ultimately issued under Circular 23 must be retrieved in hard copy by employers or their authorized representatives at the relevant DOLISA (few employers opt for original permits to be mailed to them by post, although this is an option provided for under Circular 23). A further downside is that the Vietnam Jobs Public Service Website is only available in Vietnamese. While the website is easy to use, foreign invested companies and other organizations operating in Vietnam must continue to rely on local staff or a locally-based representative in order to upload application documents and manage electronic communications with the labor authorities.
The information provided in this article is for information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Legal advice should be obtained from qualified legal counsel for all specific situations.