If you are Viet Kieu (Abroad Vietnamese) and interested in getting a 5 year visa exemption, Tung (Saigon in a Cup) gives a very detailed descriptions on how you can obtain this. This 5 year visa exemption also applies to those who are married to Vietnamese nationals.
Visit How to get a 5 year visa exemption for more information.
Having this type of visa means you will have to leave Vietnam every three months (border run to Moc Bai) but I heard some Viet Kieu are able to renew it in Saigon for a “fee”.
For the rest of us, once you have renewed your 3 month visas three times (for 9 months), you will have to leave Vietnam to renew your visa. The easiest is getting a “letter of invitation” from you company or school, especially for Americans. The other option is to go through the tedious work permit process which, once approved, allows you to obtain a 2-3 year temporary resident card.
The choice is yours…