HIV+ Older Guy Wants to Teach ESL in HCMC

by Stewie Griffin
(Quahog, RI, USA)

I'm HIV+ but in excellent health -- never had any symptoms. I'm 66 yrs old. I have an M.A. and CELTA qualification, though no experience yet.

I've visited Viet Nam several times in recent years, staying for several months each time. I love the place -- I've been almost everywhere, but I think HCMC is best for me.

I keep reading that I wouldn't be able to get a work permit because of the HIV (I understand their tests would catch it).

I also understand that if you work for under 3 months at a time, you don't need a work permit.

So... what if I went there, got a teaching job, and left just before the 3 months were up; then waited a while and came back, worked again for just under 3 months, etc.?

Would that work as a way of avoiding the work permit issue? Or do you have a better idea?


Reply Travel-Budget-Asia

First off, you have my utmost respect. You are an inspiration to grab life and challenge yourself like this. I get 20 year olds with Master Degrees that you put to shame.

On a more serious note, If you ever expose yourself as an HIV+ then you will be barred from ever working in the country and they could even refuse you a tourist visa on any terms they choose to make up.

So avoid the blood test that is a requirement for a Vietnamese Work Permit because HIV+ is the first screen on their list.

It is actually illegal in Vietnam to show any prejudice towards HIV+ carriers but the reality is quite the opposite. You are breaking the law by not revealing you status.

So, it does you no good to tell anyone of your status.

Your 3 month plan isn't quite right. As a 3 month visa holder you are classified as a tourist. The six month multiple entry visa is used as a stepping stone to aquiring full work status.

At least in theory.

Let's just simplify this. It is getting cluttered around here.

You can't keep leaving a job every 3 months. You won't even begin to make much money in the first 3 months. Everyone starts their first month with 10-12 hours a week maximum.

Some teachers are never given more than 10 hours a week and thus work multiple schools.

Children schools for the mornings and afternoons and the adult private schools at night.

You should enter the country on a single entry 30 day tourist visa. Then just get to any tourist/travel agency and apply for a six month visa when the 30 day visa gets close to expiring.

This puts a new single entry 6 month visa in your passport at about $150USD. Then just keep renewing it.

It is how all my friends are doing it.

I know only 1 of 8 people in Saigon with a work permit. They may give you the forms and ask you to apply but you make sure a dog eats them.

If they ask again then it might be time to look for another school.

But leaving the country every 3 months would only heighten your risk of being exposed.

Once you are in Vietnam, you need never leave. If you can pay for an overpriced visa then you just keep renewing your 6 month visa.

Your only flaw in their eyes is the HIV+. If you come clean then they will find a way to keep you out. If you don't tell them then you are breaking the law.

Just be careful, do no harm and the worst that can happen is they ask you to leave.

Then you go home, change your name and return.

I have left your name up as it is because you obviously know better. :)

Sorry about this last part.

(Disclaimer: I do not condone or promote any act deemed as illegal by Vietnamese law. I am also uglier than any Vietnamese person.)


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Jul 17, 2011
Cam On Anh
by: Anonymous

Thanks Philip.

This sounds like good advice. I will certainly let my family -- Peter, Lois, Chris, Meg and of course Brian -- what a fine chap you are.


Reply Travel-Budget-Asia

It sounds more like Gahm Ohn to say thank you in Vietnamese, don't you think?

But I can see your talented Vietnamese tongue as able to order a beer in any town in the Nam!

What happened to Uncle Kenny? He didn't pass did he?

He was such a special fellow the way he always kept his teeth so white even into his late 80's.

He would do best in Ho Chi Minh city because of all the dentists' offices around the Pham Ngu Lao area.

He could have even done some plastic surgery to remove that growth on his hind leg that he carried with pride for so long.

All the best to you.


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