New Vietnam rule to expel foreigners without work permits

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Foreign workers in Vietnam will have to obtain a work permit by July or they will be deported, according to a new regulation drafted by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA).

Foreigners working in Vietnam for more than three months without a permit will not have their visas or their temporary residence cards extended, according to the draft.

In many cases, they will be deported, the draft said.

Six months after the draft takes effect this July, all foreign workers that have not applied for a work permit will be sent home.

Those foreigners hired to manage or operate production lines must have at least five years experience in management jobs to hold such positions here, according to the draft.

Also, foreigners working in Vietnam must be over 18 years old and have clean criminal records.

Vietnam's current decree on foreign labor only includes the conditions by which to grant work permits to foreigners, not punishment for those without them, Le Quang Trung, deputy head of the MoLISA's Job Department, was quoted by the Vietnam Economic Times as saying recently.

"The new decree gives authorities the foundation and rights on which to expel foreign workers," Trung said.

Firms will be fined VND5-10 million (US$268-535) if their foreign employees don't meet the requirements.

The amendments also require Vietnamese employers, especially construction firms and project investors, to keep local authorities updated with their foreign worker statistics.

City and provincial labor departments will receive applications for work permits.

Foreigners will not need the permit if they are members of limited firms that have two or more members, owners of one-member limited firms, board members of joint stock firms, promoters of specific services, and lawyers that are allowed by the Ministry of Justice to work in Vietnam.

The work permit will be effective for up to three years, depending on the terms of each worker's labor contract. Foreigners can have their permit extended if their work requires more than three years or if they're supposed to transfer technology to Vietnamese workers and need more time to do so, the draft said.

Official statistics showed that Vietnam now employs nearly 60,000 legal foreign workers and 20,000 illegal ones, many of them manual workers. Vietnam's policy is to export manual workers and receive none.

Figures from the Ministry of Public Security last year showed that more than 35,000 Chinese were working in Vietnam.

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