Vietnam Visa guidance
So, you’ve confirmed that your battered, old passport is usable. What’s next on your personal ‘To do’ list? “Getting your hands on a Vietnam Visa”, I hear you say. I think you’re spot on.
If you spend time on Facebook and the like, you can be excused for thinking the visa process in Vietnam is daunting. I have a different view. I believe it’s straightforward, and I think you’ll agree.
Tourist Visa – initial entry
To enter Vietnam , you need a conventional Tourist Visa. Under the current rules, your Tourist Visa will provide coverage for 30-days, the entirety of your TESOL course at AVSE-TESOL in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. The Vietnamese Government has published a list of 80 nationalities eligible for a 30-day e-Tourist Visa (online). Note the chart below. If your country is shown in the chart, you can apply for a 30-day e-Tourist Visa online via the following link: shorturl.at/AHK12
The 30-day Tourist Visa costs US $25.00 and takes no more than three working days for approval. Once approved, you need to download the visa and take it to Vietnam. On arrival in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or another designated entry point, you need to go to the Visa on Arrival counter and hand over the visa you downloaded before you left home. The Vietnamese officials at the Visa on Arrival counter will check your paperwork. Then, assuming everything is in order, they’ll direct you to the Immigration line that’s typical of what you’ll find at an international airport anywhere in the world.
Regrettably, if your country isn’t shown in the chart above, you’re ineligible for an e-Tourist Visa. This doesn’t mean you’ll be ineligible for a Tourist Visa to enter Vietnam forever. Changes to visa rules are frequent and often occur without notice. It’s a matter of ‘watch this space’.
Okay, to ensure we’re on the same page, let’s do a quick fact-check:
1. You applied for a 30-day e-Tourist Visa online
2. Your visa was approved within three business days
3. You printed out the visa before leaving home
4. You handed the visa you printed out to a Vietnamese official at the Visa on Arrival counter
5. The Visa on Arrival official checked your visa and directed you to proceed through Immigration
Brilliant! You’re now in Vietnam, and have visa coverage for 30 days – the entirety of your TESOL course.
Towards the end of your four-week TESOL course, you’ll need to do what is commonly called a ‘border-run’. What’s a border run? It essentially involves exiting the country at a border point of your choice because your visa is close to the end date – and immediately reentering with a new visa. In the context of a border run in Vietnam, you’d reenter with a new 30-day e-Tourist visa. This visa should provide coverage until your Work Visa is issued. Doing a border run from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cambodian border is simple. There’s a border-run bus that departs from the downtown area in Ho Chi Minh City every morning; it takes a bunch of people to the border, waits while everyone renews their visa, and then takes everyone back to Ho Chi Minh City. The process takes about half a day; the fee is around US $115.00, including the cost of the visa.
Work Visa in Vietnam
A Work Visa (it’s actually a Work Permit) in Vietnam requires sponsorship from an employer, a school in our line of work. In a technical sense, to be eligible for a Work Visa in Vietnam, you need the following:
– university or college degree
– clean criminal record (background check) – not more than six months old
– government-regulated TESOL Certification
– a clean bill of health (arranged by your employer in Vietnam)
If you are a non-native English speaker, additionally, you’ll need an English proficiency test result at C1 level or higher or an IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent)
In this ‘post-Covid’ era, the Work Visa people in Vietnam are more rigid than ever before. It’s imperative that you have all the required documents and that they’re appropriately notarised and legalised. Close enough is not good enough. You will find plain-English information about the notarising and legalising process in a blog article via this link: https://www.avse.edu.vn/tesol-course-in-hanoi/
We’ve turned our minds to the key documents for a Work Visa. Let’s have a look at the application process step by step.
Step One: You’ve entered an employment agreement that includes Work Visa sponsorship. Only an employer can apply for a Work Visa (for an employee) in Vietnam. It’s not something that an employee can do on their own behalf. You’ll be required to show your key documents, during the job interview. If your documents don’t stack up, there’s a strong chance that you won’t be offered a job.
Step Two: To secure a Work Visa for you, the employer (a school) will: 1. complete an application form stating that they’re happy to sponsor a Work Visa application in your name; 2. check that you have all the required documents and that they’ve been appropriately notarised and legalised, and; 3. submit the application form with your documents to the Ministry of Labour.
Step Three: Assuming the application form from your employer and your documents are in order, you’ll receive a two-year Work Visa (and a related Temporary Resident Card – TRC), within four weeks (+/-). Among other benefits, the Work Visa allows multiple entries to Vietnam during the period that it’s valid. What’s the difference between a Work Visa and a TRC? One allows you to work in Vietnam for up to two years, the other allows you to stay in Vietnam for up to two years. For obvious reasons, they tend to go ‘hand-in- glove’.
Not having a Work Visa in Vietnam doesn’t automatically mean you cannot work. It may mean the school that employs you will need to make a plan with the local authority, such is the demand for TESOL, TEFL or CELTA-qualified people to teach English the length and breadth of Vietnam. Check out the blog article on this topic via the following link: shorturl.at/mAFO0
Cost: Work Visa + two-year TRC
The cost of a two-year Work Visa and a two-year TRC in Vietnam is US $440.00 (+/-). Here is a breakdown of the cost: A) two-year Work Permit – US $230.00 (+/-), and B) two-year TRC – US $210.00 (+/-). Note, these costs are subject to variation, often without notice. If you need to know the exact cost at a particular point in time, you can always reach out to the friendly folks at AVSE-TESOL. Will your employer reimburse you for the cost of a Work Visa and TRC? Most employers will reimburse teachers at least 50% of the total cost either immediately or after a specified period of time; for instance, after the probation period or at the end of the employment contract. Whatever agreement is reached between you and your employer about who will pay for what – and when – should be in writing.