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VietNamNews

Updated work-permit rules confuse foreign employees

Update: September, 20/2013 - 09:27
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What are your impressions about roadside rest stops in Viet Nam?

Long journeys along Viet Nam's highways are expected to become more convenient and comfortable for travellers after the Ministry of Transport implements a plan to build 150 new roadside rest stops along national highways by 2030.

The stops will be positioned every 30 to 50 kilometres so they are no more than four hours apart.

In 2009, the ministry worked with the Viet Nam Road Administration and the Japanese International Co-operation Agency to set up roadside stations nationwide. However, after just six months, the first three stops set up in the northern provinces of Ninh Binh, Bac Giang and Hoa Binh proved to be a failure. Passenger buses actually avoided the rest stops and complained about the services offered.

Have you ever experienced roadside rest-stops in Viet Nam? What are your impressions of the stops you've been to? What do you think is needed to improve them?

Do you think there should be more rest stops on our highways? Why do you think they are popular or unpopular in Viet Nam?

Please reply by email to: opinion@vnsmail.com, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 79 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, September 25, 2013. — VNS

Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers to comment on the new draft law on exit, entry and residency of foreigners in Viet Nam. The law proposes that foreigners entering the country to work must have a work permit upon their arrival, except for special cases allowed by the Government.
Here are some responses.

Ben Eichhorn, British, Ha Noi

Although I think that this idea is a good one in theory, I think it will be hard to implement in practice and will result in even more confusion for those of us working here.

Personally, as an English teacher with a valid work permit, I am unsure how I would be affected if I wanted to change my main employer and how it would be possible to collect and submit all the correct documents for a work permit in Viet Nam if I was not actually in the country. For example, health checks from only a limited number of hospitals in Viet Nam. are recognised.

The other question is how will the law affect people such as students or spouses of foreign employees in Viet Nam who decide to start working. Would they be expected to leave and return or are there be provisions for such changes?

There seems to be little clear information except what is available on news websites. It is, therefore, hard to comment on the overall effectiveness of the policy, particularly the one relating to the deportation of foreigners without work permits.

Adam Sitkoff, executive director of American Chamber of Commerce, Ha Noi

The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) supports the desire of the Vietnamese government to achieve a highly-skilled local workforce. In fact, foreign enterprises have always prioritised the development of Vietnamese staff because it helps our businesses in the long run. Readers of the Viet Nam News know that foreign employees are expensive due to high salaries and packages that provide various living allowances.

Wherever possible, AmCham member companies hire appropriately qualified Vietnamese workers instead of foreigners. There are, however, many positions for which the necessary skills are not available in Viet Nam in sufficient numbers. In addition, Article 8.2, Chapter IV of the US-Viet Nam Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) provides that US companies have the right to engage top managerial personnel of their choice, regardless of nationality, and any application of Viet Nam's laws must not impair the substance of this right.

The approval process outlined in Decree 102 (date September 5, providing detailed guidelines for the implementation of the labour code regarding foreign labour working in Viet Nam) imposes a number of undesirable conditions for the recruitment and work-permit extensions of foreigners working in Viet Nam.

This decree will dramatically prolong the recruitment process and costs without providing the desired benefits of creating stable economic and social development for the Vietnamese people. These unnecessary administrative burdens may potentially have a serious adverse impact on the ability of foreign-invested businesses to recruit senior management, technical experts and other highly qualified labor. Ironically, there is a very real risk that the implementation of Decree 102 as presently conceived could create disincentives for foreign investment and lead to fewer opportunities for the local workforce to learn valuable work skills.

Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi

Viet Nam needs to introduce any new laws in a timely manner. Plenty of advance notice should be given on new standards. Be predictable and consistent. Willy-nilly changes do not encourage expats to make long- term plans. We need to know visa costs, if they can be extended - and under what conditions.

I resent any inference that foreign workers are criminals or are responsible for corrupting Vietnamese culture or the economy. I say let us in as tourists, let us check out the environment and encourage us to stay.

Last week, the topic was about foreigners being restricted in renting motorbikes. Fair enough. People should have a driver's licence for motorcycles.

David Wood, British, Nha Trang

The new draft law is a paper exercise and a total waste of time. It does not really matter what laws are created if they are not enforced, as foreigners supposedly cannot work on tourist visas, yet hundreds of Russians using them are openly working in Nha Trang. There is no need to make new laws, just enforce the present's ones!

Tiffany Sakato, American-Japanese, HCM City.

I don't mind abiding by work permit regulations in any country, however, many expats do find the lack of information and superfluous formalities in this country are quite troublesome. The hardest thing is the lack of knowledge by Vietnamese staff in dealing with foreigners.

This is why some expats try avoiding work permits and use a tourist visa instead. For me, it's OK to enter the country on a tourist visa and if I'm offered a job, then I can return to my country, get the right papers.

However, I need to return to Viet Nam to apply for work permits. For many others, this procedure is burdensome and encourages them to quit working in Viet Nam. If Viet Nam loses out on highly skilled foreign professionals, the loss goes two ways.

I'm also unclear how foreigners can apply for a work permit before arriving in Viet Nam and whether the system can accommodate all of the requests. Perhaps they have to be in Viet Nam on a tourist visa and then apply.. It's quite confusing. — VNS

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