July 17, 2020

Guidance for Companies Requesting the Return of Foreign Experts and Specialists

As a reaction to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vietnamese Government has put in place procedures and requirements for companies in Vietnam requesting the return and arrival of foreign experts and specialists to Vietnam. EuroCham has put together guidelines that explains the current general process to gain entry to Vietnam. You can read the guidelines in full below:
     

Guidelines on the requirements and procedures for foreign investors, business managers, experts, specialists, and highly skilled workers who are to enter Vietnam for work purposes

On May 23, in accordance with the Prime Minister’s directives, the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 prevention and control issued Decision No. 2847/CV-BCD on the requirements and procedures for foreign investors, business managers, experts, specialists, and highly skilled workers who are to enter Vietnam for work purposes.
    
Further to this decision, several provincial departments of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs issued related directives addressed to companies and organizations located in their respective provinces and provided guidance on how to apply for approval of entry to Vietnam. The process to seek approval of entry is not the same in every province of Vietnam and this guideline only reflects the implementation of procedures in Hanoi and HCMC for quarantine at an approved pay-to-stay hotel.
    

1. Entry Demand report 
In HCMC, on May 29, the department of Labor Invalids and Social Affairs (DOLISA) issued letter 13413/SLDTBXH-VLATLD on supporting the entry of foreign investors, technician specialists, skilled workers, and business managers into Ho Chi Minh City for work purposes. This letter requests companies and organizations requiring entry for their foreign experts and specialists to send an official letter and list of persons to HCMC DOLISA following specific templates provided in the official letter. The HCMC DOLISA then consolidates all requests and sends them on a regular basis to the HCMC People’s Committee for their consideration and decision whether or not to grant authorization of entry for each requestor.

In Hanoi, the request for entry approval from companies and organizations shall be submitted to Hanoi People’s Committee directly. Hanoi DOLISA doesn’t collect requests from companies.
Currently, entry demand approvals are mostly granted to foreign experts and specialists whether you are to apply in Hanoi or HCMC. In case a company/organization is able to obtain approval for dependents as well, note that it is not guaranteed that the final immigration approvals will be granted for dependents, and there have been rejections for dependents. Once approved, the company shall receive the approval letter which is the first document required for further steps. Note that the personal information of foreigners and their companies granted approval may publicly be disclosed by the
Vietnamese authorities. Expect to wait a minimum of 2 to 3 weeks before being granted the entry approval letter from the People’s Committee.
   

2. Letter from the Health department / International Health quarantine Center and approved quarantine hotel location
In Hanoi, once the entry approval letter is issued, the company/organization is required to contact the Hanoi Health department and provide them with the intended designated quarantine place. There is an official list of approved quarantine hotels in Hanoi and HCMC (pay-to-stay) and which offer the full services for quarantine purposes. 
In HCMC, the designated place of quarantine has been indicated in the entry approval letter issued by the HCMC People’s committee. To select another place of quarantine, companies should submit their application to the International Health quarantine center of HCMC.
Note that the current Decision No. 1246/QD-BYT for guidance for pay-to-stay COVID-19 quarantine hotels only allows up to 2 pax per room if they are family members. So, families of more than 2 pax, if approved to enter, would likely have to stay in 2 separate rooms. We suggest companies/organizations discuss this in further detail with the hotel. The Health department in Hanoi will then issue a confirmation letter addressed to the company/organization. Expect to wait about 1 week to obtain this letter.

3. Immigration approval
Whether or not an applicant granted entry approval already holds a visa or temporary residence card, the company/ organization is required to seek approval from the immigration department, which will require the previously approved letters from the People’s Committee together with corporate forms, and a notarized copy of the company business license/investment certificate or equivalent. Note that in Hanoi, the letter from the Health department and, in some cases, an additional letter from the Health authorities of the district where the approved quarantine hotel is located is also required by the Immigration department. In HCMC, the Immigration department will only receive applications for those who already have a flight booking and do not require any confirmation letter from the Health authorities of HCMC

4. Flight booking
This is probably one of the most challenging parts of the whole process today. Finding a flight to Vietnam when the large majority of International commercial flights have yet to resume is not an easy task. It is recommended to report the list of approved foreigners of a company/organization to the chambers of commerce it may be a member of. Furthermore, the approved experts and specialists should be recommended to reach out to their respective embassy in Vietnam, as well as airlines to explore possible options. There are a growing number of airlines offering travelers to book flights to Vietnam online. However, it is advisable to check carefully in advance whether these flights are guaranteed to fly. Furthermore, due to COVID-19, flights and transit arrangements are still prone to changes and cancellation at the last minute. It is advised to check with the airlines for up to date information on flight schedules and travel requirements. Once the flight is confirmed, you will be able to confirm your reservation with the hotel as indicated in the letter from the Health department or from the People’s Committee in HCMC including the airport transfer. Note that the airline is likely to request travelers obtain a medical certificate issued by a medical institution in their home country confirming that he/she has been tested negative for Covid-19 before the travel date. Finally, the company/organization shall inform the Immigration department of the flight details and arrival date (booking confirmation).
   

5. Covid-19 test requirement
Further to the Official Dispatch 3949/CV-BCĐ issued by the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 prevention and control on July 24, foreign experts, specialists and managers entering Vietnam will be required from August 5:

to do a COVID test (COVID-19 real time RT-PCR) within 07 days prior to their arrival date in Vietnam.

to have an International medical Insurance or a letter from the sponsoring entity to confirm that the company will cover the fee for treatment in Vietnam in case traveler is tested positive for COVID-19.

It is recommended to check this with the airlines upon flight reservation.
 

6. Arrival and quarantine

All travelers authorized to enter Vietnam shall be escorted directly to the hotel for quarantine. Transportation from the airport to the hotel should be arranged by the hotel in liaison with the Health authorities. Quarantined guests are requested to stay in- room with room service (breakfast, lunch and dinner), delivered to the room’s door, for a minimum duration of 14 days if they are not tested positive for COVID-19. Health monitoring tests will be conducted by the Vietnamese Health authorities during the quarantine. All related costs will be borne by the company/organization. There are no published costs on hotel stay or other costs. This should be checked with the hotel in advance.
 

7. Acknowledgements

These guidelines were prepared by RESIDENT VIETNAM (www.residentvietnam.com) in support of EuroCham Vietnam and are up-to-date as of 15 July 2020. The information is quoted based on the current regulations, actual observations and experiences on the ground with clients. Requirements may change over time and may also vary depending on various factors such as the province, company/organization, hotel, airline etc. Neither RESIDENT VIETNAM nor EuroCham Vietnam take any responsibility for the accuracy or use of this information.

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