Who Holds My Vietnamese Work Permit?

by Ken Russell
(Vung Tau)

Vietnam Work Permit

Vietnam Work Permit

I am not going to rave on but I have been working in Vung Tau for 3 years and recently after 10 months of gathering all the required documentation, for numerous qualifications I have, signatures from Australia put on the DFAT database in Canberra etc. Etc.

I received my magic blue work permit handed to me from my boss to look at for 5 minutes.

He then gave me a grungy B&W photocopy and said the original has to be held by the government......I paid several million VND and did it all myself so I should hold the original and they the copy.

What is the legal position here? I hold my passport, driver’s license so why not my work permit?

Any advice.....


Reply from Travel-Budget-Asia.com

If you really want my advice, I would leave it be. There is a paper trail leading all the way back to Canberra so there is no chance the school can mess with you.

It would be like walking away from a fight that you could win easily. But is it worth the risk of alienating your boss? (He would lose major Face) and putting your job, or at least the hours you have there, at risk?

Vietnamese law actually states that it is your property but you must have it on your person at all times when at work.

Similar to the reception desk at your hotel wanting to keep your passport for when the police come by and check the identities of every Guest there that night.

A friend of mine from England had the same problem. He wouldn't listen to that advice. What he did was tell his boss that his Embassy wanted a look at the final booklet to make sure all was well. The school gave him his Vietnam Work Permit and he took it to his Embassy and explained the situation.

The Embassy offered to give him 2 official copies (One for him and one for the Boss) and to hold onto the Work Permit for him (Acknowledging that it was his property).

He went back to the School, shrugged his shoulders and said "I dunno". He played dumb and told them the Embassy wanted to keep it on file and his boss could contact them if he had questions, then he said again, shrugging his shoulders "I dunno. They told me to give you this copy so I just did what they told me".

That way no one loses face. My friend had the option of taking the Work Permit home with him but liked the idea of the Embassy holding onto it.

The other route is a lawyer. I used a lawyer all the time in Vietnam because it was so cheap and even the Police listened to him. I had 1 cop harassing me every night at 2am for money. I called the lawyer, paid him $50USD and that Cop was never seen again by me.

My guess is that it would cost you no more to have him place a call to the school to remind them that the work Permit is your property and that they are to return it immediately. I bet you'll get it back the same day.

That is the worst route because Vietnamese consider a lawyer as going over their heads. I agree that they should be taught that while a Vietnamese teacher will do exactly as they are told, we are not Vietnamese.

But is it worth the potential risks? Many teachers would love to get out of Saigon and hit Vung Tau (I know, it is a Vietnamese hick town where all the Vietnamese go to drink on weekends and act like idiots) but it is a nicer place to live and work than Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). For a short time, anyways.

The decision is yours and you have all the power. Vietnamese people just want to feel important, especially over a foreigner. Let him feel important and just let it go.

Good Luck whatever you choose,


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