Living and Working In Vietnam Without a Work Permit

Welcome to the Saigonist Expat Forum! Anyone is welcome to ask and answer questions here and there's no need to create an account.

Ask anything related to living and working in Saigon or Vietnam. All that I ask in return is that you look at the existing topics and try to help others with any information that you know.

4 posts / 0 new
Last post
Ryan (not verified)
Living and Working In Vietnam Without a Work Permit

I am trying to move to Vietnam in September to be with my lovely Vietnamese girlfriend, but I'm afraid I won't be able to acquire a work permit. I go to UNLV in Nevada and I have my TEFL teaching certificate, but I don't have my BA. From what I understand, without a degree one will not be able to acquire a work permit. Without a work permit it seems unlikely that I can find work. Here's my question: will anyone give me work without a work permit and if I'm there illegally what risks will I face? Will I just be deported if I'm caught?


Anonymous (not verified)

Dear friend,
We have position for you in HCM city . Please email me at : [email protected]


You don't need a work permit for the 1st 3 months, you can apply once you get here. make sure you have the necessary documents before you leave home, Govt paperwork here is a nightmare.

> Expat to Vietnam From
Work Permits for Vietnam

Paperwork for Vietnam work permit Though the government recently passed legislation in mid-2011 that vowed to deport expats within Vietnam who have not applied for a work permit and who do not hold a work permit, the application process itself seems disproportionately confusing; bogged down by superfluous formalities and inconsistencies.

Furthermore, many expats have complained that the application process is different in different cities in Vietnam, and that there is simply no clear guideline about what to do and what to submit.

Thus, what follows is information that may be subject to change, but that is reportedly in line with the policy on work permits in Vietnam issued by the government’s immigration department.

Applying for a work permit for Vietnam

Expats can either apply for a work permit within Vietnam, or can do so from abroad with the help of their hiring employer or a contracted visa agency. For those who apply from within the country, you will need to do so within 90 days of your arrival, as the government only grants a three month period during which you can live and work in the country without a permit.

In order to be eligible for a work permit for Vietnam, there are a number of requirements that must be met:

Expats must be 18 years of age or older;
Expats must be physically fit to work;
Expats applying to local companies must be either managers or executives, or must have an area of technical expertise not present in the Vietnam labour market
Expats must not have a previous conviction for infringement of national security; and must not be facing examination of penal liability and must not be serving a criminal penalty as prescribed by Vietnamese or foreign law.

If you meet the listed eligibility requirements, then you must gather a number of documents, have them translated into Vietnamese, and have them notarized in your home country (where applicable). There has been much debate regarding whether the notarization must be done in Vietnam or in a home country, but the best rule of thumb seems to be, better safe than sorry. So, if you can get them notarized in your home country, do so!

Make sure to get at least two notarized copies of your documents.

Documents need for application for work permit

Completed application form
Registration slip regarding the proposed recruitment of the foreigner on the standard form prescribed by the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs;
Legal criminal record issued by the authorized body of the country where the foreigner resided prior to coming to Vietnam. If the foreigner has currently resided in Vietnam for six months or more, then there need only be a legal criminal record issued by the Vietnamese Department of Justice of the locality where the foreigner is residing.
Health certificate issued overseas or health certificate issued in Vietnam in accordance with the regulations of the Ministry of Health.
Certificates of specialist (Diploma) for highly technical qualifications of the foreigner:
3 (three) colour photos (3cm by 4cm in size, bareheaded, frontal view, showing the face and ears clearly, without glasses, and on a white background) taken within the last six months from the date on which the foreigner lodges the application file.

The fee for submitting a work permit application is 400,000 Vietnam dong, and depending on the contract, work permits can be valid for up to three years.

Once submitted, applications are supposed to only take ten working days to process. However, many expats have reported that this is a fairly optimistic period of time, and that rather; foreigners should be reported to wait for a month, and even a few months.

Extending a work permit in Vietnam

It’s fairly easy to extend your work permit in Vietnam, as long as you’re continuing the job for which you were initially granted the permit. If you are, then your employer must apply for this extension at least 30 days before your permit expires. Furthermore, certain conditions must be met in order for you to be eligible for extension.

Conditions required to apply for work permit extension in Vietnam

Your employer is planning and conducting training of Vietnamese employees to perform the jobs currently performed by foreigners; however, because the Vietnamese employees are still unable to perform these jobs – you can continue to hold your position if there have been no breaches of labour discipline as stipulated at Points b and c, Clause 1, Article 84 of the amended and supplemented Labour Code
You are a foreign worker who holds a job in the economic, commercial, financial, banking, insurance, scientific and technical, cultural, sports, education or healthcare sectors, and your contract require more than 36 (thirty six) months of working time

If you meet these conditions, your employer can submit an application on your behalf, and within 15 days, the Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs Service should grant you an extension.
Useful information
Powered by Translate
Our Vietnam Expert
AngelaTran's picture
Name: Angela Tran
Originally from: Vietnam
Lives in: Vietnam
About: Angela Tran is an expert on Immigration and Business Consulting to Vietnam. She runs, and is a healthy...
See Full Profile: AngelaTran


There are many English teachers working in Vietnam without university degrees. Many don't even have high school degrees. Yes, it will make it more difficult to get a job, but there are many many English-teaching jobs here. So much that even foreigners from non-English-speaking countries will be hired to teach English.

© 2010-2014 Saigonist.