I got my work permit (^_^)

Well, finally, after trying for nearly 10 months, I got my work permit.  I can now legally work in Vietnam for the Horizon International Bilingual School for the next 3 years in various capacities relating to IT. My work permit can be extended three times possibly up to 9 more years for a total of 12 years.

My school is now working on getting me my 3 year temporary resident card.

Yes, it was a bit difficult to get my work permit.  I originally started with my company, SLG Vscapeone.  Due to problems related to my ex-business partner, the documents filled out for the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (DoLISA) were incorrectly filled out.  One document listed me as General Director, the other as Assistant Manager.  Yes, this was purposely done and many know I was forced to leave Vietnam for 4 days to fix my visa in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, last March.  Now everything is good to go and I hope many Expats do not have to experience the headache I went through.

So here is my recap on how “Americans” can get their work permits.  There are still many who need to obtain them before the July deadline at which point Vietnam will start to deport those foreigners who do not hold work permits.

Rule #1, DO NOT USE AN AGENT to get your work permit.  They are worthless and not worth the time and money you will spend with them.  I used my ex-business partner’s friend who, for nearly 5 months, did nothing to help me obtain my work permit though I had to pay him.  When Horizon resubmitted the forms, we had to start from scratch (minus the police report and health check).  My lawyer filled out my job experience form.  Skip the agent, ask your employers or very close friend to help you.  You have to do most of the work anyway.

Here we go:

1.  Diploma: First thing first, get your university diploma (DoLISA only needs the latest one) notarized in the US.  Contact your university and tell them that you need a copy of your diploma notarized.  Indiana University required me to FedEx my original master’s diploma to them ($48 US) to start the process.  Be sure to tell them that Vietnam is not a member of the Hague Convention so it does not recognize the apostille.  This is very important.

For me, the process started after IU got my diploma.  It first went to Monroe County for an apostille ($1 US).  The apostille here is okay since you need the notarized stamp from the state-level, not the county-level.  From there a registered notary republic at IU notarized my diploma (Free) and then sent it to the Secretary of State for Indiana.  This took a couple days but in the end, you should have a Gold State Seal on your document with the country apostille and a notarized stamp.

From there, have the Secretary of State’s office FedEx your document to a relative or friend in the US ($30 US).  Then they will FedEx it to the Department of State for authentication ($8).  Go to this website to fill out the form: http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/ Be sure to include a ‘domestic’ FedEx airbill so it can be sent back to you.  For me, it took less than 5 business days to process but unfortunately now, it takes 25 business days.  Once they authenticate the notarized stamp, they will append a tan document with Madam  Secretary Hilary Clinton’s signature with a gold ring.  They then will FedEx this back to you (if you included the airbill – $30 US).

Now the last part is to FedEx the document to the Vietnam Embassy in Washington, DC.  This time include an international FedEx airbill with an address to Vietnam ($48).  Make a check out for Vietnam Embassy and send it to the following address:

Embassy of Vietnam
1233 20th St NW, Suite 400 – Washington, DC 20036

It was cost $50 US to legalize your diploma and another $20 US to expedite it.  It took only one day for me to get the legalized stamp at the Embassy and then they FedEx the document back to my school in Vietnam.

Once you get the legalized document, it will need to be translated into Vietnamese by an authorized translator.  When they are done, the translated diploma will be submitted you can keep your diploma.  The translated diploma is good for six months.

2.  Criminal Background Check:  If you have been in Vietnam for less than 6 months, you will need to get a criminal background check from the US.  This will need to be authenticated and legalized as above but I am not sure if it will be double the price.

For those who have been in Vietnam for over 6 months, you can just do it here.  Just ask your landlord where you lived for six months (should be in one house) to give you the housebook.  You then will take this to the Judiciary Department on Pasteur street.  They will have you fill out some forms there.  They are very helpful so if you do not have an interpretor, you should be okay.  After you submit and pay for the fee (I think about 100,000 VND), they will give you a receipt which tells you when to return to pick up your background check.

3.  Health Check: You can do this at Cho Ray, Columbia Asia, or Family Medical Practice.  I think it was about $40 US but I forgot.  They will know what to do.  You can pick the results the next day and they are good for 6 months.

4.  The Rest:  Your employer will help you translate your resume into Vietnamese based on DoLISA’s guidelines.  They will also fill out two more forms stating your Job Title and duties with their company.  You will need to submit 4-5 passport pictures as well.  They will also need an ‘official’ copy of your passport and visa.

It took 20 business days for me to get my work permit and the forms were submitted to DoLISA.  Overall, I paid nearly $700 US for my work permit process but it should only cost around $350-400 US if you do it by yourself.   Much cheaper if you are in the US.

My lawyer was very helpful in this matter after the “agent” really messed up things.  HIBS was the lifesaver in getting my work permit processed in the end but I give a lot of credit to my lawyer who helped me figure out how to finally authenticate and legalize my diploma.  Even DoLISA was helpful back in March in explaining the process.

For now, if you needed to start your work permit process FROM Vietnam, it should take about 2-3 months.

Best of luck to those seeking work permits in Vietnam.  Email me if you need any help.  Again, avoid the agents, they just cost needless money…

  • Charles

    Hi, Kevin. I am inquiring about the notarization process for the diploma. I believe the US embassy in Ho Chi Minh City has some affidavit service. I have my original diploma. Is it possible for me to go through this service rather than having to send the diploma back to the states? I’m from Texas, so I don’t know exactly what the procedure it is. Maybe it is the same as your state though.

    Also, the criminal background check from the local police department is sufficient as far as satisfying the work permit requirements? I was worried that I would have to go back to the states to get fingerprints done in order to get the check done.

    • DoLISA would not accept an affidavit so they made me get my degree fully notarized and legalized in the US. Just contact your university to start the process.

      For your criminal background check, if you are in Vietnamese greater than 6 months, you can have it done here.

      Best of luck.

      • Charles

        Thanks a lot. I follow your blog. It is interesting.

  • Anna

    I browsed your blog. It really takes time to get a work permit. I also got my work permit recently through my agent. The cost is reasonable and no need to pay in advance. Only needs 2 weeks. Very quick & convenience. Any detail can contact with Joyce 84.933781163 , she is very nice.

    • @Anna: Two weeks? It should be 20 business days at least. Be sure to check to see if you have a “legal” work permit. There are many fake work permits being issued I heard.

      Best of luck.

  • Eric

    Is there any form or cover letter that you need to send to the Vietnamese Embassy in the states? The embassy’s website is terrible, they don’t reply to emails and my folks back in the states say that they don’t answer the phone either. Did you just send everything along with a letter requested what you needed and why? And how did you find out about the fees?

    Lots of questions, I know, but I hope you can help with some answers.

    • Here is the cover letter I sent:

      Kevin Miller, Jr.
      [My Address]
      Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

      Vietnam Embassy
      1233 20th St NW, Suite 400
      Washington, DC 20036

      [Today’s Date], 2010

      Dear Sir or Madam:

      I respectfully would like to request that my university diploma be legalized by the Vietnam Embassy
      for my work permit application in Vietnam. My diploma has already been notarized by the Secretary
      of State (Indiana) and authenticated by the US Department of State (Wash., DC).

      I have included a certified check for $70 US ($50 for legalization and $20 to expedite the process). I
      have also included a filled out FedEx international airbill, envelope, and passport copy so you can
      easily send the legalized diploma to Vietnam.

      Cam on nhieu for your help and time.

      Best Regards,

      Kevin Miller, Jr.

  • Eric

    Great! I was guessing that it would take something like that but just hadn’t heard from anyone who had successfully done it through the mail. Thanks so much for your help.

    • The Vietnam Embassy part was the easiest and quickest. Best of luck. If you have any questions, just ask me. I made it through the process for both the work permit and temporary resident card.

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