Several members of EuroCham Vietnam have expressed concerns regarding the extended wait times for work permit approval and the strict requirements set by the Vietnamese government for foreign workers, according to the Head of EuroCham Vietnam’s Policy Department.
During the meeting between EuroCham Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City authorities, EuroCham noted that the majority of queries submitted to the organization regarding work permit procedures were related to the duration it takes to obtain a long-term work permit in Vietnam, the Tuoi Tre Newspaper reported.
Though the official time for Vietnamese authorities to process applications and issue work permits is ten working days, foreign workers have reported waiting for up to four months.
Additionally, the current regulations mandate foreign workers to submit certified copies of their university degrees or equivalent qualifications, along with evidence of three years of relevant work experience acquired outside of Vietnam, which has proven to be a challenging requirement for many foreign experts, including some who have been employed in Vietnam for over ten years.
Critics of this policy have highlighted that even individuals like tech billionaire Bill Gates would not qualify for a work permit in Vietnam due to the lack of a university degree.
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To address the issue, EuroCham proposed that the time required to process work permits should be reduced, and the government should provide specific, simplified, and consistent instructions on the work permit application process.
Furthermore, she recommended that previous work permits be recognized as evidence of a foreigner’s experience in their field. Nguyen Van Lam, the Deputy Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs, stated that foreign laborers should prepare their personal documents before arriving in Vietnam.
The city has begun to shorten its work permit processing time by reducing the wait time for approval or rejection to seven days, and the permit issuance time to five days. Nguyen Van Lam also confirmed that the department would consider reducing the time needed to extend work permits and certify foreign nationals eligible for such documentation from five to three working days.
The Vice-Chairman of EuroCham, Jean Jacques Bouflet, commented that the European Union-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement has boosted European investments in Vietnam. However, these investments could prove ineffective if the work permit application procedures remain complicated.