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European firms in Vietnam upset over complicated work permit application

European firms in Vietnam upset over complicated work permit application

Thursday, March 09, 2023, 11:21 GMT+7
European firms in Vietnam upset over complicated work permit application
Representatives of foreign enterprises speak with Ho Chi Minh City authorities. Photo: N.Binh / Tuoi Tre

Several members of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham Vietnam) have voiced complaints over the long wait times for work permit approval, as well as the lofty requirements and qualifications the Vietnamese government set for foreign workers, according to the head of EuroCham Vietnam's Policy Department.

At a meeting held between members of EuroCham Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City authorities on Tuesday, Dang Tuyet Vinh, head of EuroCham Vietnam’s Policy Department, said that the majority of questions submitted to the organization in regard to work permit procedures are related to the amount of time it takes to complete the required steps to obtain a long-term work permit in Vietnam.

Officially, Vietnamese authorities are meant to review applications and issue work permits within ten working days. In reality, however, many foreign workers have found themselves waiting as long as four months.

In addition, the lofty qualifications the Vietnamese government requires of foreign workers have made things difficult for many businesses.

As per current regulations, foreigners must submit certified copies of their university degrees or equivalent qualifications, as well as proof of at least three years of experience acquired outside of Vietnam related to the job they hope to work in the Southeast Asian country.  

However, many foreign experts, including some who have held their positions in Vietnam for up to 10 years, fail to meet such requirements.

Critics of the policy have pointed out that even tech billionaire Bill Gates would not qualify for a work permit in Vietnam considering he holds no university degree.

To solve the issue, Vinh proposed cutting the time it takes to process work permits, while suggesting that the government issue specific, simplified, and consistent instructions on the work permit application process. 

She also recommended that previous work permits be accepted as proof that a foreigner has experience in their field.

Nguyen Van Lam, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs, said foreign laborers should prepare their personal documents before entering Vietnam.

Earlier this month, the city began shortening its work permit processing time, with the wait time for an approval or rejection being cut to seven days and that for the permit to be issued reduced to five days.

Lam added that the department will mull over reducing the time required to extend work permits and certify foreigners eligible for such papers from five to three working days.

According to EuroCham vice-chairman Jean Jacques Bouflet, the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement has boosted European investments in Vietnam, but such investments could prove ineffective if work permit application procedures remain overly complicated.

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Thanh Ha - N.Binh / Tuoi Tre News

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