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Exemption for getting a work permit for English teachers in Vietnam

Some categories of foreigners are exempted from getting a work permit in Vietnam and this is what this article is about.

This article is part of Q&A series concerning ESL teachers in Vietnam.

The question:
Greetings Dan,
Here’s an interesting question I hope you can assist me with: Lets say a non-vietnamese is teaching English in Vietnam with only a tefl/celta certificate, but wishes to pursue higher education at an accredited Vietnamese university. IF this individual received the Vietnamese equivalent of a four year college degree, would this allow said individual to obtain a work permit to legally teach English? Thank you for your time and take care.

It seems that some people are ready to do everything it takes to make sure they teach English in Vietnam legally. This is understandable since having a work permit gives you the peace of mind.

First of all, obtaining a degree from an accredited Vietnamese university won’t change the fact that you are a foreigner. Would that make it easy for you to obtain a work permit? I don’t really think so. With or without a university degree from an accredited Vietnamese university you are still a foreigner and you still need a work permit to work in Vietnam.

The work permit application process is very confusing, and fulfilled with formalities and inconsistencies. Moreover, it seems that the application process is different in different cities, and when I asked nobody could tell me clearly what to do and what documents to submit.

Don’t despond, there is a good news as well.

Some foreigners, under certain circumstances, are exempted from obtaining a work permit. Although there are several circumstances in which a foreigner is exempted from obtaining a work permit in Vietnam, I will focus on two of them which I think are the reason Vietnamese authorities allow foreign English teachers to work without a work permit.

The first circumstance:

If a foreigner works in Vietnam for less than three months he/she is exempted from obtaining a work permit.

This is like a cover, like an escape gate. You always can say that you have been working for less than three months and they always can close their eyes (of course, under certain circumstances).

The second circumstance:

Entering and working in Vietnam to resolve the emergent errors or situation that the Vietnamese labors or current foreign workers in Vietnam cannot solve.

So, this second circumstance must be the reason why foreigners still can teach English on tourist visa. Basically, foreign English teachers resolve the errors the Vietnamese labors can’t solve.

Although I have heard few online stories that some foreign English teachers working on tourist visa in Vietnam were deported, I honestly think they are just rumors and nobody should be worry about it.


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