Work Permits & Visas in ASEAN

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Law Firm in Bangkok, Thailand

Visas and Work Permits in ASEAN Countries for Foreign Workers

 

As the regulations and procedures vary greatly between countries, one of the challenges of having foreign workers in the ASEAN region is obtaining their work permits and visas. For countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, it is a very complex and lengthy process, while in others like Myanmar and Vietnam, the immigration and employment laws and practices are changing. The following is our survey of work permit and visa policies and application procedures for foreign workers employed in the ASEAN member states updated February 2020.

 

Disclaimer: All material provided here by Dej-Udom & Associates is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice from this law firm nor any of its attorneys. It was compiled from multiple sources, and while every effort has been made to verify the material, a country’s immigration and employment rules can change suddenly with no notice. Before acting on any of the information contained here, please obtain professional advice from a qualified lawyer in the respective country.

 

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Thailand
Foreign visitors to Thailand from 76 countries can enter the Kingdom for social or tourism purposes either visa free or by obtaining a visa on arrival for periods of 14 to 90 days. All nationals from ASEAN member states can visit visa free, whether arriving by air or at a land crossing. All other nationalities must apply for a visa from a Thai embassy or consulate. In Thailand, almost all ongoing business activities are considered employment and require visas and work permits  to perform. Some short-term business activities such as entering Thailand to attend a business meeting, trade show or conference, or Board of Directors meeting do not require a work permit. However, activities such as sales calls, conducting conferences or seminars, and non-profit and charity work do require a work permit.

 

To work in Thailand, all foreigners must have a valid non-immigrant B visa (Non-B Visa) and a work permit and obtaining them can be a lengthy and complicated process. The Immigration Bureau is responsible for all visas, and a foreign worker must obtain a Non-B Visa from a Thai embassy or consulate before entering Thailand. The Department of Employment in the Ministry of Labor is responsible for work permits and labor matters for foreigners. In some cases, Thai government agencies such as the Board of Investment (BOI) or the Industrial Estates Authority (IEAT) will also issue work permits. A work permit must be sponsored by a qualified Thai entity and many supporting documents are required. Under the Alien Occupation Act, foreigners are prohibited from working in 39 occupations including manual labor, agriculture, forestry, fishery, farm supervision, accountancy, civil engineering, and architectural work. Companies must meet certain qualifications to employ foreigners including having at least THB 2 million in paid up capital for each foreigner.

 

Regular Process for Visa and Work Permit
To start the regular process for visas and work permits, the foreign worker must apply for a Non-B Visa from a Thai consulate or embassy in their home country or country of residence. Many consular posts require a work permit pre-approval from the Department of Employment before a Non-B Visa can be issued. The initial Non-B Visa is usually single entry and valid for 90 days. After arrival, a foreigner must obtain a medical certificate from a hospital or clinic that confirms the absence of leprosy, tuberculosis, elephantiasis, syphilis, mental illness, and addiction to alcohol or narcotics, and can then begin the work permit application process. Employment is forbidden until a work permit has been obtained. After the work permit is issued, the foreign worker must apply in person for a visa extension from the responsible Immigration office, but only 30 days before the initial visa expires. The visa extension will only be granted for 30 days, and after a second personal appearance at the Immigration office, the Non-B Visa will be extended to cover the foreign worker’s long-term stay in Thailand. If planning to travel outside Thailand, the foreigner must also obtain a multiple re-entry permit in order to maintain the validity of the visa.

 

Visa and Work Permit Process under Investment Promotion
Businesses and investments that operate under the Investment Promotion Act, including the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) and the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IETA), are subject to different rules and processes in employing foreigners. To obtain a work permit, the employer must first apply for an approval letter for a foreign worker from the BOI or IEAT. With the approval letter, the foreign worker can then apply for a Non-B Visa at the Thai consular post in their home country or country of residence. Upon arrival in Thailand, the foreigner is eligible to use the One Stop Service Centre (OSSC) in Bangkok and must appear in person to obtain their work permit, Non-B Visa extension, and multiple re-entry permit. At the OSSC, processing time is significantly reduced and the visa and work permit applications and renewals can be completed within three hours, if all required paperwork is supplied. If the OSSC in Bangkok is not convenient for the company due to distance or any other reason, the company can request to apply under the regular process at the Department of Employment and Immigration Bureau offices in their locale.

 

Brunei

All foreign visitors need a visa to enter Brunei, but some nationals can visit visa free for social visits and tourism and some business activities:
• 14 days – Cambodia, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, , Maldives, Peru, Philippines, Switzerland, Thailand, The Principality of Liechtenstein, and Vietnam
• 30 days – Iceland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Singapore, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, and Ukraine
• 90 days – United States, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom,
• Visa on Arrival – Bahrain, China, Qatar, Taiwan – 14 days; Australia, Kuwait – 30 days.

 

All other nationalities must apply for a visa from a Brunei embassy or consulate. Activities allowed under the visa-free visits include attending cultural, technological or scientific conferences, seminars or meetings, and unpaid participation in athletic or performing arts events or competitions. Visitors cannot be involved in any activities considered employment. However, for foreign workers, Brunei’s employment policies are very accommodating, and it is not difficult for an employer to get approval for foreign worker, especially if a local is not available to do the job.

 

Business visit visas and professional visit visas are also available. A business visit visa will be issued for travelers engaging in investment or business related activities in Brunei. A registered business company or government link company in Brunei is required to apply for the business visa at the Visa and Diplomatic Section, the Department of Immigration and National Registration. A professional visit visas are issued when professional work expertise required for a particular project awarded in Brunei. A government agency or government link company in Brunei must apply for the professional visa at the Visa and Diplomatic Section, the Department of Immigration and National Registration.

 

Before a foreigner can enter Brunei and begin working, they must obtain an Employment Visa and an Employment Pass from the Department of Immigration and National Registration. However, to even recruit a foreign worker, an employer must be registered with the Labour Department of Brunei and apply for a Lesen Pekerja Asing (LPA) also known as the Foreign Worker’s License. The first step in hiring a foreign worker is for a company to obtain a Clearance letter from JobCentre Brunei (JCB). The company needs to register with JCB and advertise any vacant positions on the JCB website for a minimum of two weeks in order to allow qualified locals the opportunity to fill the vacant positions. If the JCB deems that the company has made an effort to hire locally and that there are no qualified local candidates, the JCB will issue the Clearance letter. The company will then need to obtain any approvals or supporting letters from any relevant government agencies or statutory bodies. The company must also provide a security deposit for the foreign employee that covers repatriation expenses including travel, food, accommodation, and medical expenses. The security deposit can be provided in cash, a bank guarantee, or a Takaful Contribution for Foreign Works (JITPA) from a local insurance company. The company can then submit the LPA application at the Department of Labor and the LPA will be issued in 7 working days if approved. After receiving the LPA, the employee can apply for the Employment Pass with the following documents: an application letter from the employer to the Director of Immigration and National Registration, Employment Pass application form, visa application form, Employer’s labor license, Labor Department Form 500, and a valid passport. An Employment Pass is valid for 2 years and can be extended for 2 years each time.

 

Employers must also comply with all other national requirements for foreign workers. The Ministry of Health requires the foreign worker to undergo a pre-departure medical examination and a pre-employment medical exam in their home country which can be done at the same time. After arrival in Brunei, the employee is required to register for a BruHIMS number and undergo an on-arrival health screening at the District Health Office within one week of arrival in Brunei. A foreign worker must register with the National Registration Identity Card system for a smart identity card, the Green Identity Card (IC). Employers must also provide medical and workmen’s compensation insurance for their foreign employees.

 

Cambodia

All foreign visitors need a visa to enter Cambodia and can obtain a visa on arrival for tourism or business purposes for up to 30 days. Nationals from Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam can visit visa free for 30 days and nationals from Brunei, the Seychelles, and Thailand can visit visa free for 14 days. Foreign visitors can apply for an eVisa for tourism purposes, except for citizens of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Sudan. An eVisa can only be used to enter Cambodia at the Phnom Penh International Airport, the Siem Reap International Airport, the Sihanoukville International Airport, and the border crossings of Cham Yeam (Koh Kong Province) from Thailand, Poi Pet (Banteay Meanchey Province) from Thailand, Bavet (Svay Rieng Province) from Vietnam, and Tropaeng Kreal (Stung Treang Province from Laos.

 

To work in Cambodia, a foreigner must have a valid E-Business (EB) visa and a work permit and employment card. An initial E-Class visa can be obtained at a Cambodian embassy or consulate or on arrival; however, the initial E visa will only be single entry and valid for 30 days. After 30 days, the E visa can be extended with EB Visa extension. To obtain a 6-month or 1 –year multiple entry EB visa extension, the government requires a work permit or a certified letter from an employer. However, the EB visa does not grant the right to work in Cambodia and a work permit and employment card are still needed. The Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training (MLVT) uses a quota system for work permits and employment cards to control the number of foreigners that can be employed by foreign and domestic companies. The MLVT launched a new online portal, the Foreign Labor Centralized Management System in 2016. Any business that employs foreign workers must submit their quota requests for foreign labor and apply for all work permits and employment cards through the online system. Companies are required to apply for quota approval every year for both new hires and work permit renewals. Quota requests for new employees must be made from the beginning of September and the end of November for the coming year. Quota request for work permit renewals must be made January 1 to March 30 each year. Documents required for a work permit from the registered employer include the company incorporation certificate issued by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), Articles of Incorporation with MOC (if applicant is a shareholder only), patent certificate issued by the General Department of Taxation (GDT), foreign employee quota approval, and medical checkup certificate.

 

Indonesia

All foreign visitors need a visa to enter Indonesia. Nationals from 169 countries can enter visa free under a visa exemption for up to 30 days for tourism, family, and social purposes and enter at 124 Immigration checkpoints at airports, seaports, and land borders. The visa exemption cannot be extended or converted to another type of visa. Foreigners coming to Indonesia for holiday, family, social, cultural, or business purposes can also apply for a Visit visa. Under a Visit visa, a foreigner can engage in holiday, family, social, art and cultural activities, government visits, non-commercial sports activities, benchmarking, short courses, short trainings, providing consultation and training in implementing technological innovation to improve Indonesian industrial product design quality, foreign marketing, urgent work matters, business meetings, buying goods or products, giving lectures or attending seminars, participating in international exhibitions, attending meetings held by a Head Office or a Branch office in Indonesia, audit, quality control, and inspection of a branch office in Indonesia, and foreign workers on probation. A Visit Visa on Arrival is good for a 30-day stay and can be extended once for another 30 days. A Visit Visa is issued at an Indonesian embassy or consulate for a period of up to 60 days and can then be extended up to five times for an additional 30 days each. One way to obtain a Visit Visa is to apply directly at an Indonesian Embassy or Consulate. Another is for a guarantor to apply for visa approval with the Directorate General of Immigration in Jakarta. Foreigners that travel frequently to Indonesia for family, business, or governmental visits can apply for a Multiple Visit Visa that is valid for one year. This type of Visit visa allows up to 60 days per visit, but cannot be extended. A Multiple Visit Visa can be obtained at an Indonesian embassy or consulate or through guarantor approval at the Directorate General of Immigration in Jakarta.

 

The process to obtain approval to work in Indonesia is complicated and the requirements are very strict. To start, a potential foreign worker must have a sponsoring company in Indonesia, and this future employer is responsible for completing all applications and obtaining all approvals before their foreign employee can begin working. Initially, the employer must request an approval letter from the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) and submit an RPTKA (Expatriate Placement Plan) to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). The RPTKA is now considered to be the work permit and supersedes the Expatriate Manpower Employment Permit (IMTA) used in the past. After the RPTKA is approved, the employer must obtain a Notification from the MOM which authorizes the employment of foreigners. The Notification is also the basis to obtain a Limited Stay Visa (VITAS). Employers do not need to apply for the RPTKA for shareholders who are on the board of directors or board of commissioners, diplomatic and consular officers; and foreign workers needed by the Indonesian government. The employer must then pay the Expatriate Placement Fee (DKP-TKA) in advance to the MOM. The DKP-TKA is US$100 a month and based on the length of stay and working period. After the Notification has been issued and the DKP-TKA has been paid, the employer can apply for the Limited Stay Visa (VITAS) from the BKPM which will issue a letter notifying the Directorate General of Immigration that the BKPM has issued the VITAS to a foreign employee. After approval, the employee can apply for a VITAS and a Limited Stay Permit (ITAS) with the Indonesian embassy or consulate in their country of residence. The embassy or consulate will issue the VITAS and an approval letter for ITAS issuance. The VITAS can then converted to an ITAS when the foreign employee arrives in Indonesia. The conversion can be done at authorized airports and other ports of entry or at the local Immigration office. The initial ITAS is valid for up to 2 years and can be extended. A multiple-entry permit is also issued with the ITAS. After receiving an ITAS, the foreigner must them apply for a KITAS Card and Blue Foreigner’s Registration Book. The KITAS Card identifies someone who has completed the registration process and the Blue Foreigner’s Registration Book records the foreigner’s immigration status. A KITAS Card is valid for up to 2 years and can be extended twice for 2 years with a maximum of 6 years possible. A foreigner must also obtain a Temporary Residence (SKTT) card that is used as an Identification Card for foreigners in Indonesia and an STM Police Report. A foreigner must also have a SKJ/Travel Permit if working outside one of the big cities. These are all required to extend the KITAS.

 

Laos

All foreign visitors need a visa to enter Laos. Nationals from 15 countries can enter visa free under a visa extension:
• 14 days – Brunei, Myanmar
• 15 days – Japan, Luxembourg, Switzerland
• 30 Days – Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Russian, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam

 

All other foreign visitors can apply for a 30-day tourist visa on arrival at most airports and border crossings except for citizens of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, DR Congo, Eswatini, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mozambique, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Tonga, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Visitors from all countries except the countries ineligible for a visa on arrival can also apply online for a 30-day eVisa. However, an eVisa can only be used to enter through Wattay International Airport (Vientiane), the Lao-Th ai Friendship Bridge I (Vientiane), Luang Prabang International Airport (Luang Prabang), Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge II (Savannakhet Province), and Pakse International Airport (Champasack Province).

 

Under the Lao PDR Labor Law, a business can hire foreign workers, but must give priority to Lao citizens. Also, foreign employees can only make up a maximum of 15% of a company’s unskilled labor force and 25% of its skilled labor force. Employers must obtain permission to employ foreign workers from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. The length of employment contracts for foreign workers can be up to 12 months and can be renewed for another 12 months. A foreigner is only allowed to work in Laos for a total of 5 years, but employers can apply with the Labour Administration Authority to extend the period up to another 5 years.

 

To work in Laos, a foreigner must have a B2 business visa and a work permit and residence card. There are multiple types of B2 visas including an Expert Visa (E-B2) for foreign workers in international or non-governmental organizations, an Investor Visa (NI-B2) for foreign nationals investing in an enterprise registered in Laos, and a Labor Visa (LA-B2) for foreign nationals working in Laos on a fixed employment contract. Foreign workers need a sponsoring company in Laos to obtain a Labor Visa (LA-B2). A foreign worker must obtain a B2 Visa from a Lao embassy or consulate in their home country or country of residence before they can enter Laos. If a foreigner is currently residing in Laos, they must leave the country to apply for the visa. The sponsoring company or individual in Laos must then obtain a sponsorship letter from the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Vientiane and present a financial guarantee for the prospective foreign employee. After approval, the MFA then contacts the Lao consular post specified in the application which will then issue the B2 Visa. A LA-B2 visa is multiple entry and can be valid for up to one year. After the foreign worker enters Laos with the valid B2 Visa, the employer can then apply for the work permit from the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and the residence card from the Immigration Department.

 

Malaysia excluding Sabah, Sarawak, and Labuan

Most foreign visitors do not need a visa to enter Malaysia for social or business purposes, and visitors from 63 countries can enter visa free for up to 90 days. Visitors from 97 countries, including all ASEAN countries, can enter visa free for 30 days. All visitors, visa free or with a visa, are issued a Social Visit Pass (SVP) on arrival, and business activities allowed under an SVP include attending meetings, conferences, and seminars, factory inspections, exploring investment opportunities and factory set up, company audits, signing agreements, business discussions, journalism and reporting, and other activities approved by the Director General of Immigration. However, visitors cannot be involved in any activities considered employment.

 

All foreign workers must have an employment pass to work in Malaysia and have a sponsoring company in Malaysia that is responsible for completing all applications and obtaining all approvals. Before recruiting a foreign worker, the sponsoring Malaysian company must register online with the Expatriate Services Division (ESD) under the Immigration Department of Malaysia. The company must meet the registration prerequisites and the paid up capital requirements for a company to hire a foreign worker that range from RM 250,000 for a 100% local company to RM 500,000 for 100% foreign owned company. After the company is approved and has the official Letter of Understanding signed by an Immigration officer, the company can start submitting Employment Pass applications. Depending on the job position, the company may also need to obtain approval from a relevant government agency or a recommendation from a regulatory body.

 

There are 3 categories of Employment Pass for Malaysia. Category 1 covers key positions in a company including executives, CEOs, managing directors, and project managers with a basic monthly salary of a minimum of RM 10,000 monthly. Employment contracts for Category 1 can be up to 5 years, can be renewed, and dependents are allowed. Category 2 covers managerial and professional positions in a company with a basic monthly salary between RM 5,000-9,999 monthly. Employment contracts can be up to 2 years, can be renewed, and dependents are allowed. Category 3 covers non-executive positions that require significant work experience and specific technical or practical skills with a basic monthly salary between RM 3,000-4,999 a month. Employment contracts cannot exceed 12 months, can only be renewed twice, and dependents are not allowed. Before a company can apply for a Category 3 Employment Pass, it must receive an exemption from the minimum salary requirement of RM 5000 a month from the Ministry of Home Affairs. A Professional Visit Pass (PVP) is also available for qualified foreigners with specific professional experience or specialist skills that remain on their home-country contract and payroll and work for a Malaysian company for a period not exceeding 12 months. The employment categories for a PVP include government advisor, professor, researcher, consultant, technical advisor, installation, maintenance, repair of machinery, or any expert in a specific field approved by the Immigration Department.

 

All employment passes are issued by the Malaysia Expatriate Talent Service Centre (MYXpats Centre) under the Expatriate Services Division. The company must submit an application online and the MYXpats Centre will issue an approval letter. The approved foreign worker then has 30 days to appear at the MYXpats Centre and submit their passport and all relevant documents. If not already residing in Malaysia, a foreign worker will need a Visa with Reference (VWR) issued by a Malaysian embassy or consulate in their country of residence in order to enter Malaysia to complete the process. The company can apply for VWR approval with MYXpats Centre when applying for the Employment Pass.

 

Myanmar

All foreign visitors need a visa to enter Myanmar except for nationals from Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam who can enter visa free for 14 days. Nationals of 50 countries can apply online for 28-day tourist e-visas, but can only enter through the Yangon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw airports and the Tachileik, Myawaddy, Kawthaung, Tamu, Rih Khaw Dar international land border checkpoints. Nationals of the same 50 countries who obtain an invitation from a registered local Myanmar company can also apply online for 70-day business e-visas and can only enter through same airports and border checkpoints. 30-day tourist visas on arrival are also available for nationals of Austria, Australia, China, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, and Switzerland. Nationals of 55 countries can apply for a 70-day business visa on arrival provided they have an invitation letter and all required documentation.

 

Myanmar does not have a comprehensive work permit system, so most foreign workers apply for a business visa, a stay permit, and a multiple re-entry permit if needed. Most foreigners working in Myanmar enter and live on a single entry 70-day business visa. Multiple entry business visas are available, but require two or three previous single entry business visas and no immigration violations. Multiple entry business visas are valid for three-month, six-month, or one-year periods and can be extended without leaving the country. However, without a Stay Permit, a foreigner can only remain in Myanmar for 70 days, even with a multiple entry business visa. A Stay Permit allows a foreigner to work for either a three-month, six-month, or one-year period and is single entry. To leave the country during the time period, a foreigner must apply for Single or Multiple Re-Entry Visas for the Stay Permit. To receive a Multiple Re-Entry Visa, an applicant must have first traveled to Myanmar at least three times on business visas and prove that they are a company director, manager, or consultant and provide all required documentation.

 

Foreigners can also receive work authorization under the Myanmar Foreign Investment Law of 2012 through the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC). Only foreigners working in managerial or supervisory positions or in jobs that require expertise or special skills are eligible, and preference must be given to Myanmar citizens. To employ foreigners under the Myanmar Foreign Investment Law, the company must first state the number of foreign workers it wants to employ in its application for an Investment Permit with the MIC. After the company receives its Investment Permit and endorsement to employ foreign workers from the MIC, the company can apply for a work permit from the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, and Population and Stay Permits and Single or Multiple Re-Entry Visas from the Immigration and National Registration Department under the Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population.

 

Under the Permanent Residence of a Foreigner Rules of 2014, an eligible foreigner who meets all of the requirements and is approved for permanent residence is allowed to stay in Myanmar for a five-year period and can work in areas not restricted or prohibited by law. As a Permanent Resident, a foreigner can operate businesses in areas not restricted or prohibited by law. Permanent Resident certificates can be renewed every five years

 

Philippines

Under the Philippine visa waiver program, foreign visitors from 151 countries, including all ASEAN member states, can enter the Philippines for tourism purposes without a visa for up to 30 days. The initial visa waiver can be extended another 29 days and then one-month, two-month, or six-month extensions are available. The maximum allowed time under a visa waiver is 36 months. For longer stays and for business and other non-immigrant visas, all nationalities must apply at a Philippine embassy or consulate in their country of residence. Under a temporary business visa, visitors can conduct business activities such as attending meetings and conferences, contract negotiations, investigating investment opportunities, client and factory visits, and sales calls to potential local clients, but cannot be involved in any activities considered employment. All foreign visitors on tourist or business visas must apply for an Alien Certificate of Registration Identity Card (ACR I-Card) from the Bureau of Immigration if their stay in the Philippines exceeds 59 days.

 

To work in the Philippines, all foreign nationals must first obtain an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and have a local sponsor file the application. Only after the AEP is approved can a foreigner apply for a work visa. Two common work visa types are the 9(g) Pre-Arranged Employment Visa and the Special Non-Immigrant 47(a)(2) Visa if working under the privileges of the Special Economic Zones (SEZ), Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), the Board of Investments (BOI), or Authority of the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB).

 

Process for a 9(g) Pre-Arranged Employment Visa
A 9(g) Visa is issued for pre-arranged employment with a company registered or licensed to do business in the Philippines. The company must demonstrate that the employment of foreigners is necessary for the management, operation, or administration of the company. Before applying for Alien Employment Permit (AEP), the potential foreign worker must first enter the Philippines and apply for a Tax ID Number (TIN) from the Bureau of Internal Revenue. After receiving the TIN, the company can apply for an AEP at the DOLE office with jurisdiction over the place of business. After receiving the AEP, the foreign worker must complete the 9(g) Visa application process with the Bureau of Immigration which requires personal attendance and an interview. The initial 9(g) visa can be for one, two, or years, and depending on the employment contract, can be extended for one, two, or three years. The timeframe for obtaining a 9(g) visa can be up to 90 days. The foreign worker must also apply for an Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR I-Card) from the local Immigration office. If a foreigner needs to start working before receiving a 9(g) Visa, they can apply for a Provisional Work Permit (PWP) from the Bureau of Immigration. A PWP is valid for six months or until the issuance of the 9(g) Visa. A PWP is not renewable and if an AEG or 9(g) visa have not been issued before the PWP expires, the foreign worker must cease working.

 

Process for a Special Non-Immigrant 47(a)(2) Visa
Upon approval by the Secretary of Justice, Special Non-Immigrant 47(a)(2) Visas are issued for foreign workers in enterprises in industries invested with public interest or with public policy considerations and for foreigners working in companies registered with SEZ, PEZA, BOI, or AFAB in executive, supervisory, or specialist positions or as consultants or contractors. In some cases, a 47(a)(2) Visa will be issued to a foreigner in their home country, but in all others, a foreigner must enter the Philippines and complete the visa process. After receiving their Tax ID Number and Identity Card and AEP, the foreign worker then obtains a 47(a)(2) Visa from the Immigration branch at their particular SEZ, PEZA, BOI, or AFAB office.

 

Singapore

All foreign visitors can enter Singapore visa free with a visit pass for social purposes for either 30 or 90 days, depending on nationality, except for nationals from Afghanistan, Algeria , Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, Georgia, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Moldova, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, People’s Republic of China (PRC), Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Yemen who need to apply for a visa before entering Singapore. Visitors entering Singapore with a visit pass are not allowed to engage in any business, professional, or paid employment activities except to attend company meetings, corporate retreats or meetings with business partners, attend study tours or visits, training courses, workshops, seminars and conferences as a participant, and attend exhibitions as a trade visitor. Visitors are allowed to work in Singapore for short periods of time with a visit pass by registering for a work pass exemption from the Ministry of Manpower. Activities allowed under a work pass exemption include arbitration or mediation services, participating in exhibitions as an exhibitor, junket activities, location filming and fashion shows, and specialized services relating to operations, equipment or a new plant.

 

To work in Singapore, all foreign nationals must first obtain a work pass from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the sponsoring company is required file the application with the MOM. An Employment Pass (EP) and a Personalized Employment Pass (PEP) are available for foreign professionals working in managerial, executive, or specialized positions. Foreigners wishing to start a business in Singapore can apply for an Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass). Mid-level skilled foreigners are eligible for an S Pass, and Work Permits are granted to semi-skilled foreign workers in construction, manufacturing, or the services sector. The MOM has quotas and a stringent evaluation process and each application is evaluated on an individual basis. The most common work pass for a foreigner in Singapore is an Employment Pass.

 

Process for an Employment Pass
Currently, to receive an EP, a foreign worker must be guaranteed a minimum monthly salary of S$ 3,600 and have acceptable qualifications – degrees, qualifications and specialist skills. For older experienced workers, the MOM also expects higher minimum salaries. An EP does not automatically include dependent passes for spouses and children, and a foreign worker must make a minimum monthly salary of S$ 6000 to be eligible for dependent passes. Before beginning the application process, the MOM requires an employer to list the job first on MyCareersFuture. The company can then submit the EP application, and if approved, the MOM will send an In-Principle Approval (IPA) letter to the employer which allows the foreign worker enter Singapore and start working while waiting for the EP card. The MOM will issue a Notification Letter once the foreigner has arrived in Singapore and the appropriate fees are paid. Then, the foreign employee and all dependents must register their biometric data in person at the Employment Pass Services Centre and will receive an acknowledgement of EP card delivery. The EP will be delivered within four working days after the biometrics registration. The initial EP can be valid for up to 2 years and renewed for up to 3 years.

 

Process for an Personalized Employment Pass
A Personalized Employment Pass (PEP) is issued to a foreign worker as an individual, not the company or business they work for, and allows certain types of foreign workers a great deal of job flexibility. However, a PEP is only issued for one 3-year term and cannot be renewed. Under a PEP, a foreigner can work in most business sectors, does not need a new employment pass when changing jobs, and can be unemployed and job hunting for a six-month period while still living in Singapore. Only foreign professionals working outside of Singapore making at least S$ 18,000/month or foreigners already working under an Employment Pass in Singapore making at least S$ 12,000/month are eligible for a PEP. If foreigner wants to start their own business or engage in entrepreneurial activities, they must apply for an EntrePass. The application procedures for a PEP are identical to the EP above.

 

Vietnam

All foreign visitors need a visa to enter Vietnam, but nationals from certain countries can enter visa free for tourism purposes:
• 30 days – Cambodia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, and Thailand
• 15 days – Belarus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom
• 14 days – Brunei
• 21 days – Philippines
• 90 days – Chile
All other nationalities must obtain a visa at a Vietnam embassy or consulate. Foreign visitors from 81 countries can apply online for an E-visa for tourism purposes.

 

After receiving a long-term 3 month single/multiple entry visa, foreigners are allowed to work in Vietnam without a work permit under one of the following conditions:
• Will work for less than 3 months
• Is a member of a limited company with at least 2 members
• Is the owner of a limited company with 1 member
• Is a director on the Board of Directors in a joint stock company
• Engages in sales activities for a foreign company in Vietnam
• Is a foreign lawyer with a law practice license granted by the Ministry of Justice
• Is the head of a representative office or working for a foreign NGO

 

To work in Vietnam, a foreigner needs a business visa, work permit, and temporary residence card. A Business Visa Category DN allows a foreigner to work for a Vietnamese entity for up to 12 months. The foreign worker can obtain a DN Visa at a Vietnamese embassy or consulate in their country of residence and a sponsorship letter from the hiring Vietnamese company is required. Work permits are issued by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MOLISA). Obtaining a work permit in Vietnam takes approximately 10 working days, and only executives, managers, experts, technicians, and teachers are eligible for a work permit. As a pre-requirement to recruit a new foreign worker, the employer must get approval from the local People’s Committee, and an application for a work permit cannot be processed until gaining this approval. MOLISA also requires a notarized police clearance certificate from the foreign applicant’s home country, or from the Vietnamese authorities if living in Vietnam, and a medical certificate from an authorized agency abroad or in Vietnam. All required documents from outside Vietnam must be notarized and certified and then translated and certified by an approved Vietnamese translator. Work Permits are valid for 2 years and can be extended. After receiving a Temporary Residence Card (TRC) from the Ministry of Public Security which can be valid for up to 3 years, a foreigner is not required to renew their visa, and a TRC acts as an official ID and a multiple-entry visa when traveling outside Vietnam.

Charn Issara Tower I, 2/Fl. 942/69 Rama IV Road, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Tel (66) 2233-0055, 2233-0068 Fax (66) 2236-6681, 2233-0227, 2233-0097.