Exact Steps on How to Apply for Visas and Vietnam Work Permits

Foreigners working in Vietnam without a valid work permit could face deportation. Learn how to get a proper Vietnam work permit.

Planning to work in Vietnam but unsure about the application process?

Due to the continually changing government regulations, the process to legally work in Vietnam can be confusing and cause many foreigners administrative violations by accident. Failure to comply with rules on employment, social insurance, and Vietnamese guest workers may lead to expelling. This article outlines the step-by-step guide to applying for the visa, Vietnam Work Permit, or Temporary Residence Card.

Should you get a Work Permit, a Business Visa, or a Temporary Residence Card? When should you start the application process? How do you start and where to apply to avoid internet scams? Who can apply for the Temporary Residence Card and who can’t? How do you extend your stay? What are the legal definitions of expert? Who are qualified as legitimate employers?

business visa and work permit vietnam

Work Permit vs Business Visa vs Temporary Residence Card

How to apply for a Work Permit?

The Work Permit in Vietnam is issued by the Department of Labor, Invalid and Society. The paper permits you to work in Vietnam for up to 12 months legally and the work permit must be renewed when it is still valid for at least 5 days but no more than 45 days.

There are two steps involved in the application:

  1. Approval of the employment plan of using foreign employees in 3 weeks
  2. Foreign worker applying for a work permit in Vietnam, in 10 days

What do you need to prepare

  • Health check certification, with official stamps from one of the authorized hospitals in Vietnam. If applied abroad, you will need stamps from authorized officials.
  • Foreign or Vietnam Criminal Record from the Department of Justice in Vietnam, notarised
  • Certificate of Experience with a minimum of three years in your chosen field of employment
  • A legalized copy of your University Degree or a specialist certificate
  • Notarised/legalized passport
  • A written request for a work permit
  • Approval for the employment opportunity, issued by the Department of Labor, Invalid and Society
  • Two passport photos 4x6cm (white background, wear a suit)

When should you apply for a Work Permit?

You should start the entire process at a minimum of 4 weeks before your starting work date. It takes between 10-15 working days to process the required documents and get stamps. It would then take another 15 days to approve the request for a Work Permit and 10 days to apply for the Work Permit.

How To Apply for a Business Visa?

If you do not meet the requirements regarding the level of expertise and education of the Work Permit OR your contract is less than a year, you can apply for a single-entry or a multiple-entry business visa. Apply for a Visa on Arrival through an online application.

Five steps to obtaining a Business Visa on Arrival:

  1. Fill out the secure online application form
  2. Confirm and pay
  3. Receive and print the Visa Approval Letter
  4. Obtain an Invitation Letter from your employer in Vietnam*
  5. Get your visa stamp upon arrival at one of three Vietnam international airports: Ho Chi Minh City Airport (CGN), Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), or Danang International Airport (DAD).

*Don’t have an official employment offer? Contact Cekindo to learn how we can assist to be your local representative.

What do you need to prepare

For your Visa Approval Letter:

  • Your most updated passport information
  • Your credit card information for service payment
  • Your Expected Arrival date

After 2 working days (urgent service) or 5 working days (normal one), you will:

  • Get a visa approval letter via email.
  • Prepare 2 passport-sized photos (4x6cm) and an amount of USD for stamping fee to be paid to the Immigration officer at selective arrival airports in Vietnam.
  • Vietnam Entry and Exit Form (M3) to be completed on the airplane or when you arrive at a Vietnam airport.

Check out The Latest Changes to Work Permit Processes in Vietnam in 2019

How To Apply for a Temporary Residence Card?

Foreign nationals with Work Permit can apply for a Temporary Residence Card for longer-term working. The Temporary Residence Card is especially for those who are working in expert or specialist positions, with established international and intergovernmental organizations, or direct relatives of applicants.

Prepare the following documents and submit them to the Immigration Department or the Ministry of Affairs depending on the type of Temporary Residence Card you are applying for:

  • A written invitation from the locally-based entity**
  • A declaration with a picture**
  • A valid passport with valid visa**
  • Papers proving your status such as Work Permit, Certificate, Business Registration Certificate, etc.**
  • The confirmation of residence from the police (in Vietnam)**

** Any document that is not in Vietnamese must be translated and notarized according to Vietnamese regulations. Call Cekindo to receive the most updated information on how and where to legalize your documents.  

Summary Table of the Available Options

Duration of Stay Eligibility What to prepare Length of the application process
Work Permit 12 – 24 months, renewable Minimum 1 year of being in senior positions of relevant working experience

Expertise in your chosen field of employment.

Higher Education

For a manager, executive officer, expert, or technician

Health check certification

Foreign Criminal Record

Certificate of Experience

University Degree

Copy of passport

A written request for a work permit*

Approval for the employment*

2 passport photos 4x6cm

40 working days
Business Visa Up to 12 months, renewable Sponsorship or an invitation letter from a business partner based in Vietnam – partner must sign and stamp all applications* An invitation letter from a business partner based in Vietnam OR

Sponsorship*

Visa Approval Letter*

48-hour
Temporary Residence Card 1 to 3 years Holder of a valid Work Permit in Vietnam

A member of the Board/Director of a Joint Stock Company

Founder of a Company in Vietnam

Professionals, students, trainees via national working or studying programs

A written request for a temporary residence card; declaration about foreigners applying for temporary residence cards

A copy of passport and a valid Work Permit

Registration certificate

5 – 7 working days

*Don’t have an official employment offer? Contact Cekindo to learn how we can assist to be your local representative.

Got any questions? Fill out the form below and receive your answer within 24-hours regardless of the time zone of where you locate. Or call Cekindo today and receive a free consultation.

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Verified by:​

Pandu Biasramadhan

Pandu is the Consulting Manager at Cekindo. He has extensive experience in working with government agencies. Notably, he has provided market-entry solutions for enterprises in Indonesia and managed regional partnership channels in Southeast Asia. At Cekindo, Pandu aspires to lead the consulting team to provide top-quality market-entry services and maintain a portfolio of global clientele. His specialty is market-entry advisory and business process outsourcing.