Work Permit and Visa Hassles


Yesterday was the first working day of the Year of the Tiger and it already brought with it many hassles.  My gut feeling told me that I needed to visit my service agent to check the progress of my work permit.  I am glad I did, for some odd reason, the service agent could not convince the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Saigon that my “notarized” diploma, a masters degree, was notarized!  Even worse, he did not tell me.

This happened last December when I found out that my diploma was not recognized as well.  The service agent took nearly two months before he finally told me wasting, I hate to say it, valuable time.  I told them I could get my diploma notarized in the US but they claimed it was not necessary so all the people that “helped out” convinced me it was not necessary.  Since my health was not good at the time, I let my guard down and let them continue their job since I already paid them.

Today I will go with the service agent, a close friend and another, more experienced, agent to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The MFA’s request was not realistic and we have to tell them that.  Yesterday they told my service agent that I needed to get my diploma notarized by the US Consulate even though they know very well the US Consulate does not notarize them.  Our task is to “convince” them that my diploma is notarized, something the service agent failed to do.

If we cannot do this, the new service agent, who I used for my visas for the last couple of years, will take over.  In Vietnam, choosing the “right” agent is very, very important due to their network within the government.  Unfortunately I cannot dump my service agent now on a technicality.

In the meantime, I have to deal with the visa hassle again.  Another department of the MFA only gave me a 7 week visa which expires this Sunday.  The MFA told me I needed a work permit or that I had to leave.  Of course, due to a lack of transparency, there is no computer system they can use to see whether I was processing my work permit application or not.

Yeah, a lot of frustration.  Many Americans I know are having the same exact problem.  One thing is certain, if the US Consulate would just notarize our diplomas, or notarize the notarized diplomas, the US citizens in Vietnam would not be having so much trouble.  I did an affidavit of a notarized diploma which does not seem to work at the moment even though the Vietnamese law says it is legal.

Lets see what happens today…


  1. I”m in the same boat as you, and I’m eager to hear the result, as I only have 2 months left on my visa before I’m forced to get out too. Please let us know what happens! I’m so frustrated with the US consulate for not notorizing documents. It’s unreasonable to send one’s Master’s degree to 3 different notaries back home in the US.

  2. Good luck getting all this worked out Kevin. I know I would pretty pissed at my service agent for not letting me know how everything was going until so close to my visa expiration.

    If you don’t get your work permit done by the end of the week to extend your visa….can you just get a temporary 3 month tourist visa to bide you more time?

  3. Kevin,

    My parents have both my degrees (BA and M.Ed.) back in Oregon. Do I need to get both notarized, or just my highest degree?

    So you’re saying, I just have to have my parents give the diploma back to my university, and then when they stamp it my parents should send the diploma to the state department in Oregon. When that’s done, they can send me one of the copies, and I bring it to the Vietnamese consulate in HCMC? Then I’m done?

    THis is so confusing, thanks for your help!

    • You just need the highest degree. Do not worry about the BA. They can contact the university which will take care of the entire process to the Secretary of State. There may be a fee and they may ask for a self-addressed stamped envelope. They will know what to do. Also, remember to mention that Vietnam is not a member of the Hague Convention so it does not recognize the apostille. You need the full notary (gold seal).

      In your case, have your parents mail the university with your degree and a FedEx mailing label (paid abut $48 US) addressed to you in Vietnam. That way the Secretary of State can send it straight to you. From there, you will take it to the US Consulate for an affidavit where they will make you swear it is a true copy. They will stamp it for about $35 US. There you will make a copy and then bring it to the MFA, fill out a form, and then be given a receipt to pick it up after two days. After that it needs to be translated and then submitted to the Dept. of Labor and Invalids.

      I get my diploma tomorrow and then it will be translated.

  4. That’s great, I’ll contact my parents and see if they can help out. You just made me sigh in relief, thanks!

    By the way, where’d the word “nezumi” come from in your blog title? Can you speak Japanese?

      • Kevin,

        Thanks again for your help.

        I asked about nezumi because I used to live in Tokyo, and have spoken Japanese for 5 – 6 years as my second language. Sadly, I don’t have any Japanese friends here, so I never speak it, so I was happy to hear my natsukashii gengo mou i kai. 😀

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