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Vietnam – Operating Offices Now Eligible to Apply for Work Permit Exemption for Intra-Company Transferees

Vietnam – Operating Offices Now Eligible to Apply for Work Permit Exemption for Intra-Company Transferees

Effective February 1, 2017, Circular 35 provides guidance on the implementation of Decree 11 of 2016, and details rules for intra-company transfers to Vietnam that operate in one of the 11 Service Sectors specified in Vietnam’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments.

The only rule change is that Operating Offices (“Văn phòng điều hành”) operating in one of the 11 specified sectors are now eligible to apply for a work permit exemption (WPE) instead of a work permit for intra-company transferees.

Work Permit Exemption Requirements

All other aspects of the law pertaining to work permit exemption for intracompany transfers remain unchanged. The foreign enterprise must meet the following requirements to apply for the WPE for their foreign national workers:

  • The company must be operating in one of the 11 sectors specified in Vietnam’s WTO commitment and has in the company’s Vietnam business license one of the designated appropriate central Product Classification “CPC” code for their business sector. If a company does not have the appropriate CPC code in their business license, they do not qualify for WPE and can apply for work permits only.
  • The foreign transferee must hold a managerial position, or be an expert (specialist) or technician.
  • The foreign transferee must have been working for the foreign company which owns shares in the Vietnamese registered entity for at least 12 months prior to being seconded to the Vietnam based entity.

Several categories of foreign national employees are exempt from the need for work permits, including:

  • Heads of Project Offices;
  • Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) assignees;
  • ODA (Official Development Assistance) project assignees
  • Intra-company transferees working in the 11 service sectors covered by the Vietnam commitments on services with the World Trade Organization (WTO);
  • Foreign national journalists licensed by the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

However, in practice, obtaining approval for a work permit exemption is very difficult, and requires many of the same supporting documents as a work permit application in any case (e.g. police clearances, medical checks) and so is very rarely used.

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