Monday, March 29, 2010

Vietnam to expel foreigners without work permit

Thanhniennews had an article in the weekly print edition saying that Vietnam is planning to expel foreigners who don't have a work permit but do work. Although it is officially targeted on cheap construction workers, it effects everybody.

34/ND-CP on recruitment and management of foreign laborers working in Vietnam, expelling those without working licenses.

The draft decree stipulates that the Government will refuse the issuance of a visa and temporary residence permit at the same time as expelling illegal foreign laborers, who work in Vietnam for more than three months without applying for working licenses.

Six months after the effective date of the new decree, all illegal foreign workers will be expelled if they still do not acquire the licenses.

Foreign workers - who specialize in production operation and management, and do not hold any professional certificates, but want to continue working in Vietnam - must acquire written papers issued by Vietnamese investors certifying that they have at least five years of working experience.

Mr. Le Quang Trung, deputy director of the Employment Department under the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, said that Decree 34/ND-CP only covers conditions for foreign laborers to apply for working licenses. It does not draw any penalty for non-licensed foreign workers.

The new decree, however, will empower appropriate agencies to legally expel non-compliant foreign laborers, the Director continued.

Moreover, project contractors and investors will have to present reports on their employment of foreign laborers to local authorities.

The new decree will be effective on July 1, 2010.

I am not questioning the right of a country to expel illegal workers. I am not questioning the need of a work permit. But I am questioning the obstacles of getting one. For most foreigners it's not only a month long process, it is sometimes not possible, since the requested qualifications are often not clear. Just to notarize certificates is just a pain, and nobody in Vietnam can estimates what the certificate really means. But there is such an bureaucratic process in place, that I really think it's on purpose. At least it's not made for an easy way to attract foreign workers.

Every country needs foreign workers, for several reasons. One might is certain language skills, like Japanese people in a company on Vietnam that exports mainly to Japan. But it's also just important to get people with more knowledge in this country, because you can simply learn from them. It doesn't seem that this is really what the new regulations are targeting.

Vietnam is not a the easiest place to make business for foreign companies. High personal income tax, too many regulations and no real path of how to walk through this jungle, corruption, and visa regulations are on top of the list. Yes, you can make (fast) money in Vietnam, but this system will not last for long.


Thomas Wanhoff said...

If you read carefully, you may see an easy way: Get a written letter from the investor about 5 years of experience. It's way easier than collecting your certificates.

Docwood said...

I agree with getting a written letter is much easier. But it still requires "Coffee Money" or more to get through this. At least it doesn't have the nightmare with going through channels with fancy papers and even more "Coffee Money" or a "Full Day of Entertainment" is required before something gets proceeded. Things are purposely stalled and made complicated for "Coffee Money". The key word is money and rampant corruption is the popular tool to obtain money. Lack of political competition will never get rid of corruption no matter how hard they try. Money is the only thing the big guys are interested. Lack of skilled workers has never been their concern. The big buys feel threatened when the number of well educated people increased. They want them to be humble and not rebellious. Remember that nobody can own any land except for the big guys and therefore, there is tremendous incentive to create difficult environments for all foreign beings after they bring in investment, money and skills. Nike and IKEA and perhaps others have very good business models. These organizations just have representative offices with a minimum number of workers. They don't have to take risks of investing in factories. They just contract out to the Taiwanese and other Asians who bear the risks of investing in factories. All these factories have long term leaseholds that eventually belong to the the big guys. Some of them have to pack up early due to difficult business environments they are in. The big guys have tremendous incentive to rake in this kind of benefits. In this case the leaseholds belong to the landowner. There are unfavorable trends in the labor market for foreigners as well. I was attending the AMCHAM HR Committee meetings some years ago. In these meetings, we foreigners discussed how to motivate and retain local workers once they are well trained. We also shared information on training markets for our local workers around town but our main focus was motivation and retention. I also tried to attend Local HR Meetings which were very discouraging to me after all. The attendees are mainly composed of HR Managers of well known foreign Multi-national corporations and some large state owned enterprises like Mobi Phone and PetroLimex etc... They are all very well educated and talented local Vietnamese. However, their major focus at the meetings were how fast to replace foreigners with local workers. They were never concerned with local skill shortage and talent shortage. This is one of the local cultures that foreigners fail to understand.

敬忠 said...

Since it is the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.............................................