Working in VN without a degree + some other questions.

Hello everyone!

I'm currently having some trouble understanding the rules for working in Vietnam.

Some background:
Volunteered at an English centre in Vietnam from March to June this year. I really liked the country and decided that I wanted to live here. In August one of my friends asked me if i could work for her school and I accepted.

The school then organized a 3 months working visa for me and I arrived in VN a few weeks later. I signed the contract and started working. A few days later I was informed that the local police terminated my contract due to me not "being qualified" for the job. The reason was that I don't have a university degree.

I have since then been to the police a couple of times with my GF(she is vietnamese) but most of the time they refuse to answer any questions. I have asked some of my friends that work in other provinces but they give completely different answers. I have also gotten 4 other work offers during the period but everything is being stopped by the police.

So heres my question:

1. Why cant I be employed even when I have a working visa? Is there any way for me to work legally in Vietnam despite not having a degree?

2. The police informed me that I am only allowed to work for the company that invited me. If I want to be employed by another company I need to leave the country and have another visa made for me. However one of my friends worked for 3 different companies during his 6 month stay without any problems with the police.

3. What are the rules regarding renting a room as a foreigner? At first I stayed in my girlfriends apartment but after a few nights 3 police officers showed up and kicked me out.  The reason being that we were not married and because I'm a foreigner. Later when I asked at the police station they told me I'm not allowed to rent any property at all!

The police would appear to be correct on the first count (work) but wrong on the second (cohabitation.)  The second has been covered extensively in other threads.  You do need a bachelor's degree and a TEFL certificate to hold a work permit and to teach legally.  That said, many people are teaching illegally.  Your problem seems to be that your radar signature does not allow you to fly under their radar and it is probably too late at your present location.  Something about you attracted their attention.

Money is always attractive.   So is the smell of success.       

Wise ones fly under the radar...     :happy:

Let me guess - you're in the Buon Ma Thuot/Dak Lak region?  Wherever you are, you may want to make like a tree and get the "f" out of there, unless you'd prefer being deported!  I'm actually a bit surprised that hasn't happened already. 

The interpretation and enforcement of the law can vary greatly from one locale to another. 

Inconsistancy is one thing that is truly consistant here. 

Good luck!

Yep, the old shakedown for the Uncle Ho's in their pockets.

I live and work in the BMT and Daklak area, and the government here is stricter with foriegners than other regions. To answer your questions:

1) You MUST have a Bachelors degree and a teaching certificate unless you've got a BA in either English or Education. These laws were written to stop drunken backpackers from moonlighting in fly-by-night operations that weren't beneficial to students and used slick marketing to rope-a-dope unsuspecting parents.

2) If you arrived on an Invitation Letter (no visa in hand) you must work for  that company. However, if you paid for your own business visa (B2, 6 months - $150 last I checked, but that was a few years ago) then you are free to seek work. If you arrived on a tourist visa (as I've heard it's a recent change [2015]), then you must exit the country and re-enter on a business visa. I'm not sure which visa you have or which visa you entered the country on. Whatever the case, your visa only allows the foundation for your work eligibility. You still need more documents to get a work permit (WP) and temporary residence card (TRC).

3) All residents in a domicile must be registered with their local police and their "housebook". If your girlfriend is renting she is probably registered on her parents housebook. The government here does not want foreigners staying in unapproved places. The authorities frame this as a safety argument as many buildings and residencies are not 'up-to-code'. Although, as Milton taught us: Necessity is the Tyrant's Plea. Either way, the police are probably more worried about a potential fire and your inability to dial 113 (911) and ask for assistance than they are the cohabitation. You and your gf are probably more than welcome to share a foriegner approved dwelling, like a hotel.

As THIGV stated, now you are on their radar and can no longer plead ignorance. You've got no degree (or other founding documents) and possibly the wrong visa. You should lay low for a bit, the authorities are almost certainly watching your residence. Don't take any private lessons and try to find some work with a legitimate, long standing company who needs your services and can provide assistance to get your working privileges in order.

DO NOT try to grease any palms on your own. You will need a Vietnamese friend or relative who can intercede on your behalf. There's a song to this dance and you don't know it.

Again, all this advice is if you are in BMT or Daklak. If you're in another major city, this advice may not apply.

Agree, but isn't funny when they give the reason of a place not being safe for a foreigner, then once money is received, that place magically becomes ok.

Not much magic in that, Col.   Far too common.

Paradoxically, this is the first posting I have seen in a while, by a person from a non-English speaking country expressing a desire to teach English, whose prose is not full of grammatical errors.  Most of them disqualify themselves by the first two sentences.

You think that's bad Thigv, you should come and sit in on some of the Vietnamese who are teaching English.

I am a strong advocate of the idea of "teach the teacher" and feel that the government is missing out on this.  I taught a few teachers when I was detailed by my center for IELTS speaking tutoring and always tried to help the Vietnamese teachers in the middle school where I taught.  Some of them were frustrated by the fact that the curriculum that they had to work with had only one "correct" answer.  I frequently confirmed what they thought, that there was a more colloquial way of saying the same thing despite the materials they were stuck with.  My experience is that the younger ones are a lot better than the older.  The young lady who taught the absolute beginner adults at my center did an excellent job and I was lucky to have been able to teach the follow on level after her.

Yeah, the younger ones are much better, maybe due to the fact there are a lot more native speakers working in the education system now than there was before.

colinoscapee :

Yeah, the younger ones are much better, maybe due to the fact there are a lot more native speakers working in the education system now than there was before.

Is this an error or an incredibly subtle piece of humor?   :/  Actually, my theory has to do with movies on TV.

colinoscapee :

Yeah, the younger ones are much better, maybe due to the fact there are a lot more native speakers working in the education system now than there was before.

Is this an error or an incredibly subtle piece of humor?   :/  Actually, my theory has to do with movies on TV.

Being an ex-teacher I thought you may pick up on that.  :o

3. There is a service appartment near my house where some foreigners have been staying. There is not any problems with them, as the Lessor has completed the demands of the local police:
          . The Lessor must make the registration of temporary residence for the foreigners in the local
            Police office right when the foreigners move in (don't forget bring with him the passport of the
           foreigner when come there otherwise the Lessor will go with the foreigner). All takes about some

The OP has not replied to any of the prior posts, although admittedly with the exception of the last they could be considered more comments than suggestions.  People have assumed, perhaps correctly, that he is in the highlands but he never really said so.  Perhaps he has already left the country.  Or maybe he has "gone to ground" like a modern day Colonel Kurtz.  :joking:

If you want to work as an English Teacher in Viet Nam, you must have a bachelor degree, visa, work permit and teaching certtificate ( TESOL, TEFL)

Yes that's the law, but as with everything in VN it's not adhered to.

My boyfriend and I had no degrees and taught for almost a year freelancing and volunteering. We both entered on tourist visas and just extended it every 3 months. Depending on the the agency you find and how many extensions you've used up, you may or may not have to leave the country and re-enter. It was a nice excuse to take a trip to Cambodia (very affordable tours).

The trick to it is to get the sponsoring party to hire you on a volunteer and pay you by covering expenses and allocating stipends instead.  Since there is no salary or official job description from the ministry to fulfill, the rules are less stringent. I see that is how you entered the country originally and that would have kept you under the radar. The problem here is now the ministry knows you're up to loftier ambitions and by upgrading to that work permit triggered some attention. Now that they know you're trying to turn a profit, it's hard to dissuade them of it. You might be better off starting over in a new region where the police haven't noticed you as much and the volunteering backstory will still fly.

Of course , I had to still submit an official cv and copies of relevant certifications but a degree was not required for most private institutions, only for jobs with the ministry and state institutions. Private institutions can list a job opening for whatever they want so as long as they don't demand a degree in their job posting, the ministry won't either. It really all depends on how the employer draws up the contract. It boils down to how badly do the employers want to have you there and if they're willing to bend over backwards a little.

The most basic requirement in order to qualify as an English teacher was that you were a native English speaker. All I had to do was establish that I was educated in a native English speaking country and had some sort TEFL/TESL etc. training. As far as their laws go, that was the extent of it. My sponsors didn't want to deal with the paperwork of a work permit either so they just wrote up subversive contracts and registered us with the regional police that way. The visa fees are much less exorbitant that way as well.

If you don't have that kind relationship with your employers or have financial obligations where you need a salary that's on the books, the way you have described it is pretty much how the cookie crumbles. Come back with a degree otherwise if you're looking for more stable long term teaching positions and intend on moving there. Although there are plenty of expat war vets that have come back to retire/teach and they've never been hassled for a degree. Ageism might play a bit of a factor here, but if you appear competent, they won't press for one if you already have plenty of relevant experience already locked down.

Couldn't have said it better myself!

Sadly?     Nope.      ( I'm not a blue-eyed blonde!)
..but I had more work than I could handle, doing
'exactly' the same thing.   Start afresh & afar.

Perfect response. My answers would be the same even in the North of Vietnam

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