Following the latest legal updates on several issues regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Victory LLC would like to provide some useful information about the procedures for applying for foreign workers’ visas and work permits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eligibility requirements for applying for foreign workers’ visas and work permits
1. In order to be granted a work permit (hereinafter referred to as “WP“), according to current regulations, the employer is responsible for identifying, explaining, and applying for approval of the demand for employers with the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs where the employer is expected to work, at least 30 days before the employee’s expected date of employment.
2. According to the normal process, employers will carry out the procedures for applying for a WP after receiving approval for the need to use employees. However, some localities require employers to enter and be present in Vietnam in accordance with working practices, and employers can carry out procedures for applying for a WP.
3. As such, employers must apply for an entry visa to Vietnam for employees. The summary process is as follows:
- Employers explain and request the People’s Committee of the provincial or central city where the employee is expected to work, for approval for the employees to enter the country to work. Simultaneously, employers are obliged to develop and present the quarantine plan, ensuring compliance with conditions, locations and quarantine time according to the Official Telegram No. 600/CD-BCD on 05 May 2021 of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention (“Official Telegram 600“), to the local Department of Health for approval.
- After receiving approval from the above-mentioned competent authorities, employers shall carry out the procedures for applying for an entry visa to Vietnam for employees at the Immigration Department (in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, depending on the entry border gate).
4. If the expected working location is not in provincial or central cities, this process will last longer. Because, after employers have received approval for foreign workers to enter and approve the quarantine plan, the Provincial People’s Committee where the employees are expected to work will officially notify the Immigration Department and the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City (or Hanoi City, depending on the entry gate) of the list of employees approved for entry. These agencies will review, approve and then request the Department of Health to assist in implementing quarantine. According to working practices, this process usually lasts at least 03 weeks. Upon receiving the letter of approval for the list of entry and approval for quarantine support mentioned above, the new employer will carry out the procedures for applying for an entry visa, as stated in Section 4.
5. One of the eligibility requirements to enter Vietnam is that workers must have a certificate of negative COVID-19 PCR test results within 72 hours of entry. After entering the country, the employee must carry out quarantine according to the approved plan, and comply with the provisions of Official Telegram 600.
6. After the above quarantine period, employers are responsible for carrying out the procedures for applying for a WP within the time limit for which the employees are allowed to enter Vietnam (in most cases it is 03 months, recorded specifically on the entry visa). After being granted the WP, employers can change the current visa to the type issued to the employee (work visa) in accordance with current regulations.
It can be observed that in recent years, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the entry of workers into Vietnam and applying for WP has faced many obstacles. The Government of Vietnam is implementing a policy to limit the number of foreigners entering Vietnam to limit the spread of delta coronavirus. With the current conditions, enterprises can only calculate the use of foreign workers at the expert level is extremely important for businesses because the entry conditions are quite strict and the quarantine period is quite long. This procedure will be applied until the Ministry of Health has confirmed the safety status of community immunity in Vietnam.
“Vaccine passport” program
In accordance with immigration restrictions for the prevention of the COVID-19 pandemic, foreign individuals entering Vietnam will be subject to 14 days of treatment, and in special cases of 21 days.
The Government of Vietnam is also considering a plan to shorten the quarantine time for foreigners entering Vietnam through the “vaccine passport” program – i.e. the individual certificate has been given 2 shots of COVID-19 vaccine. This program allows people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 to shorten their time to quarantine after entering Vietnam.
On 09 April 2021, the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention agreed that three groups of people on entry are expected to receive vaccine passports including:
- Vietnamese stranded overseas;
- foreigners entering Vietnam for investment and business; and
- international tourists.
According to the proposal of the Ministry of Health, the person entering the country with a vaccine passport will be quarantined for 07 days, tested twice, if negative such person shall be isolated at home or accommodation for an additional 07 days. As such, Vietnamese immigrants with vaccine passports will be tested for the first time on the first day after entry; the second time on the 6th day of quarantine. The third test was performed on the last day of the quarantine chain at home or accommodation. If all three tests are negative, the person entering the country is released from quarantine.
The adjustment of immigration procedures and issuance of WP is in accordance with the actual conditions, balancing the interests of the parties while ensuring the epidemiological security and health of citizens in the lengthened COVID-19 pandemic.