New Decree on Foreigners working in Vietnam, taking effect on February 15, 2021

Hanh Pham Last update: Feb 21, 2021

If you are a foreigner working or planning to work in Vietnam, you should clearly understand the regulations covering your work in Vietnam, including this Decree No. 152/2020/NĐ-CP taking effect on February 15, 2021.

This Decree does not significantly change the contents of its previous decrees (including Decree No. 11/2016/ND-CP), but provide more clarifications and better align with the provisions of the Labor Code No. 45/2019/QH14 taking effect on January 1, 2021.

Here come the key highlights of this Decree covering the foreigners working in Vietnam.

1. Change in criteria defining foreigners working in Vietnam

The Decree 152 imposes a stricter criterion for determining an expert. As in the Decree 11, a foreign employee was classified as an expert if:

  • He/she has a document certifying that he/she is an expert of an overseas agency, organization or enterprise; or
  • He/she has a bachelor’s degree or equivalent or higher qualifications provided that he/she has worked at least 03 years in his/her training field in corresponding with the job position that he/she shall be appointed in Vietnam, and other special cases upon the consideration and decision of the Prime Minister.

The first case was no longer defined as an expert under the Decree No. 152. The experts therein are determined only by:

  • Their years of working experience; and
  • Their qualifications (relevant degrees or practicing certificates)

as follows:

  • Having a bachelor’s degree or equivalent or higher qualifications provided that he/she has worked at least 03 years in his/her training field in corresponding with the job position that he/she shall be appointed in Vietnam;
  • Having at least 5 years of experience and professional certificates relevant to the position the foreign worker is expected to work in Vietnam;
  • other special cases upon the consideration and decision of the Prime Minister.

In addition, the criterion to be foreign workers internally reassigned in the company becomes stricter. Instead of “are the managers, chief executive officers, experts and technicians of a foreign enterprise which has established a commercial presence in Vietnam, are temporarily reassigned within the same enterprise to its commercial presence in Vietnam and have been employed by the foreign enterprise for at least 12 months” as in the Decree No. 11/2016/ND-CP, they now, under the Decree 152, are “the managers, chief executive officers, experts and technicians of a foreign enterprise which has established a commercial presence in Vietnam, are temporarily reassigned within the same enterprise to its commercial presence in Vietnam and have been employed by the foreign enterprise for at least 12 consecutive months”.

Decree 152 also introduces an additional ground for consideration as a technician. In addition to the previous requirement of having been trained in technical or other fields for at least 01 year and having worked for at least 03 years in their training fields, Decree 152 also requires that such person should have at least 5 years of working experience in the job suitable to the position expected to be taken in Vietnam.

2. Change on process of work permit extension

The Decree 11 provides no extension of work permit in Vietnam, but under the Decree No. 152/2020/NĐ-CP, a work permit, which is initially issued for a term of 02 years, can be extended once for another 02 years. As such, in case the employer still intends to employ a foreign employee when the extended work permit becomes expired, the employer must follow the same procedure to obtain a new work permit.

You can check the procedure to

3. Amendments and clarifications on work permit exemptions

The key highlight in this regard is that the Decree 152 provides that

  • a foreigner married to a Vietnamese citizen and wishing to reside in Vietnam;
  • owner or capital contributor of a limited liability company with a capital contribution value of at least VND 3 billion;
  • Chairperson or a member of the Board of Directors of a joint-stock company with a capital contribution value of at least VND 3 billion;

Are all exempted from the Vietnam work permit.

The full list of subjects of work permit exemption and its procedure for are well detailed here.

Here come the highlights of the new Decree concerning the foreigners working in Vietnam. This Decree takes effect from February 1, 2021. You can download full version in Vietnamese here, or the translation for reference here.

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