Vietnam’s captivating landscapes, bustling cities, and rich culture have become increasingly attractive to foreigners seeking a long-term residence. With a thriving economy and a welcoming environment, Vietnam offers a multitude of opportunities for those looking to establish themselves in the country. However, to reside legally for an extended period, you’ll need a long-term visa.

This article explores three primary avenues for obtaining a long-term visa in Vietnam: opening a business, buying an existing business, and securing a work permit. Each option has its advantages and considerations, so understanding the details is crucial for making an informed decision.

1. Opening a Business: Becoming an Entrepreneur in Vietnam

Opening a business in Vietnam presents an exciting opportunity to be your own boss and contribute to the country’s dynamic economy. This path grants you a long-term visa, allowing you to live and work in Vietnam while managing your enterprise.

There are two main types of businesses you can establish for long-term visa purposes:

Limited Liability Company (LLC): This is the most common business structure for foreigners in Vietnam. It offers limited liability protection for the owners and requires a minimum investment capital of between $10,000 – $30,000 depending on the location and business lines.

Joint Stock Company (JSC): This structure is suitable for larger businesses with multiple shareholders. It requires a minimum of three members and a minimum capital of $30,000. The setup process is a bit more complex compared to other business structures.

Steps involved in opening a business and obtaining a visa:

1Company Registration: This process involves obtaining a business licence, registering with tax authorities, and opening a corporate bank account.

2Work permit.

a.Work Permit: If you work in the company, the law states that you will need a work permit to legally work in Vietnam. Obtaining this permit requires submitting documents including criminal record, health check-up, business licence, and a letter of guarantee from your company.
b.Temporary Residence Card: Once the work permit is obtained, you can apply for a Temporary Residence Card (TRC). This card typically has a validity of two years and is renewable.
3.Investors visa.

a.If you invest a substantial amount of capital starting from $130,000, you will be exempt from the work permit and will be eligible for a 2-year residence card. With the lower amount of funding, you still can get 6 months to 1 year visa, depending on the invested capital. This option is what most business owners apply for. As if it is a 1 year visa, it is quite suitable and you can just renew the visa every year without leaving the country.

Advantages of Opening a Business:

Control and Flexibility: You have complete control over your business operations and enjoy greater flexibility in your work schedule.
Long-Term Visa Security: A successfully operating business ensures your visa renewal becomes easier over time.

Considerations for Opening a Business:

Investment: There’s an initial investment required for company registration and minimum capital.
Business Knowledge: A good understanding of the Vietnamese market and business regulations is essential for success.
Language Barrier: Language proficiency in Vietnamese can be advantageous, especially when dealing with local authorities and customers. Therefore it might be good to have a Vietnamese partner or make sure you have a very good Vietnamese accountant who can assist with these challenges.

2. Buying an Existing Business: Stepping into a Running Enterprise

Buying an existing business offers a faster route to obtaining a long-term visa compared to starting from scratch. You inherit an established customer base, staff, and operational framework, simplifying the transition.

Key steps involved in buying a business and obtaining a visa:

1.Business Search and Due Diligence: Thoroughly research potential businesses, considering factors like industry, location, profitability, and legal standing. Conduct due diligence to identify any liabilities or hidden problems.
2.Business Transfer Process: Work with a lawyer to navigate the legal aspects of purchasing the business. This involves transferring ownership licences, permits, and tax registrations.
3.Investors Visa, Work Permit and Residence Card: Similar to opening a business, you can either apply for a work permit or obtain an investors visa.

Advantages of Buying an Existing Business:

Faster Visa Acquisition: The process can be quicker compared to starting a new business from the ground up.
Established Operations: You inherit a running business with existing customers and staff, reducing initial setup time.

Considerations for Buying an Existing Business:

Financial Investment: The cost of acquiring an established business can be significant, depending on its size and profitability.
Business Viability: Carefully assess the business’s financial health, past performance, and future prospects to ensure its sustainability.
Hidden Liabilities: Due diligence is crucial to uncover any potential problems that could impact your visa status or business operations.

3. Obtaining a Work Permit: Employment-Based Long-Term Visa

Securing a job position with a Vietnamese company is another way to obtain a long-term visa. Your employer will handle most of the visa application process, sponsoring your work permit and temporary residence card.

What to expect when seeking employment-based visas:

Job Search: Research different sectors and companies in Vietnam that align with your skills and experience. Utilize online job boards and professional networks to connect with potential employers.

What to expect when seeking employment-based visas (continued):

Work Permit Sponsorship: The Vietnamese company offering you employment will sponsor your work permit application. This involves submitting documents like your educational qualifications, work experience certificates, criminal record, health check-up and a letter of employment from the company.
Temporary Residence Card: Once the work permit is approved, you can apply for a Temporary Residence Card with the validity typically lasting two years, renewable upon meeting specific criteria.

Advantages of Obtaining a Work Permit:

Reduced Investment: There’s no initial investment required compared to opening or buying a business.
Employer Support: The sponsoring company assists with the visa application process, simplifying procedures.

Considerations for Obtaining a Work Permit:

Job Market Competition: The Vietnamese job market can be competitive, especially for certain industries or high-skilled positions.
Employer Dependency: Your visa status is tied to your employment with the sponsoring company. Changing jobs might require a new visa application process.
Work Permit Requirements: Work permit requirements vary depending on your profession and qualifications. Ensure you meet the necessary criteria for the specific job you’re applying for.

Additional Considerations for Long-Term Visas in Vietnam:

Visa Extensions: Temporary Residence Cards typically require renewals every one to three years. The renewal process usually involves submitting updated documents and demonstrating continued business operations (for business visas) or employment (for work permits).
Taxes and Fees: There are associated fees for obtaining business licenses, work permits, and Temporary Residence Cards. Additionally, you’ll be subject to Vietnamese income tax regulations.
Legal and Immigration Support: Consulting with a reputable lawyer specializing in Vietnamese immigration law can be highly beneficial. They can guide you through the specific requirements and complexities of the visa application process based on your chosen path.


Obtaining a long-term visa in Vietnam opens doors to a vibrant and dynamic lifestyle. Whether you choose to pursue entrepreneurship, acquire an existing business, or secure employment, each path offers unique advantages and considerations. Carefully evaluate your skills, resources, and long-term goals to determine the most suitable option for you. Remember, thorough research, professional guidance, and a well-defined plan are key factors for a successful long-term stay in Vietnam.

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