Unhappy Families

Apr 9th, 2012, in Featured, IM Posts, by

Mixed nationality families still waiting for the 2011 Immigration Law to be implemented, one year after it went through parliament.

Hamid AwaluddinToday marks one year since the Indonesian parliament passed a new immigration law.

It supplemented the 2006 Citizenship Law - a.k.a. the "Happy Families Law" - and is hoped to make the visa requirements of "international" families (i.e. where an expat is married to an Indonesian) living in Indonesia a little easier.

It contains many improvements for expat spouses and their children:

- No more trips to the Immigration Office
Instead, applicants visit their city's main police station ("Polda Metro"). The author's experience is the visas and immigration section of the police station is much quieter, less crowded and generally a nicer place to be.

- Much easier and cheaper application process
Applicants bring their passports and marriage/birth certificates, and directly receive a 5-year permanent residency visa (called a KITAP) for free.

- Ability to work, and greater choice of employment
Since 2006, Indonesians can sponsor their expat spouses for a 1-year residency visa (popularly known as a "spouse KITAS"), but it forbids paid employment. But expat spouses can have a job while on a KITAP. Even better, their visa is not cancelled if/when they resign or their contract expires.

The 2006 law was implemented after four months with a blaze of publicity.

Dr Amir Syamsuddin, Justice and Human Rights MinisterBut twelve months after the 2011 law passed through the parliament, there is still no official word from the Justice and Human Rights Ministry or the minister Dr Amir Syamsuddin (right) when expats can bid a fond farewell to immigration agents.

The cynical will point out that the Immigration Office has a vested interest in slowing the implementation of the new regulations. Its employees are alleged to earn extra money on the side from bribes to smooth/speed up the often exceedingly cumbersome application process. If a large proportion of expats no longer need to visit the Immigration Office every year, it will reduce "profits", so they say.

In the meantime, expat spouses are left wondering whether they will need to renew their spouse KITAS for another year, or not.

For those affected, here are some useful articles on the subject from other sources:

Please feel free to add more links or a comment below, or just an update as it becomes available.


7 Comments on “Unhappy Families”

  1. avatar sparky says:

    Iam a USA resident.My wife is indonesian and is now pregnant with out first child.i wanted to stay in Indonesia for a year to be with my wife and soon to be child.My wife said they said i could not work,And since i could not work,She said i must show i have $2000.00 dollars in the bank to show before they will give me a 1 year visa.My money will be coming in monthly i do not know if i will have 2000.00 dollars in my bank account at any time at one time.Can any tell me if this is true?

  2. avatar berlian biru says:

    If you are married legitimately, ie you have a state-issued marriage certificate, your wife can sponsor you under the old rules. Even if you don’t you can still enter on a sixty day tourist visa issued through an Indonesian embassy, you renew that every couple of months by taking a day trip to Singapore (use a visa agent so you can do it in a day).

    I survived like that quite happily for almost five years.

  3. avatar Chris says:

    Hi Sparky and BB,

    I think Berlian Biru is referring to the 60-day Social-Cultural Visa (Visa Sosial Budaya), which technically is not a tourist visa.

    Also, it can be extended up to six months – 30 days at a time – by going to your local immigration office and bringing the following:

    – 3 forms (you can buy them in advance for Rp8000), one needs the sponsor to sign on a materai/stamp duty for Rp6000
    – A passport photo
    – A letter from your sponsor (presumably your wife) signed with a materai/stamp duty for Rp6000
    – A copy of your sponsor’s KTP/ID card
    – Rp250 000

    It takes 5 working days to process. For example, if you submitted it on a Wednesday you could pick up the following Tuesday afternoon.

    In the fifth and sixth month of the visa, there are additional requirements and you may need to visit another immigration office between submission and collection. However, it still works out to be cheaper overall than multiple trips to Singapore.

    By contrast, the tourist visa (a.k.a. visa on arrival) is normally valid 30 days, but can be extended to 60 days.

    However, you must have a ticket to leave Indonesia within the first 30 days, even if you plan to get the visa extended. The easiest way around this is to book and print a Jakarta to Singapore ticket on one of the following airlines – Batavia Air, Lion Air, Sriwijaya Air – but not pay for it. You write the details of this flight on the arrival/departure card.

  4. avatar berlian biru says:

    What I was referring to was the tourist visa that you apply for at the embassy which is valid for sixty days rather than the thirty day VOA at the airport.

    It’s a little loophole I used to avail of; fly Adam Air to Singapore in the morning meet the agent in Orchard Road, hand over the fee and the photos and collect the visa in the afternoon after a bit of shopping and a substantial buffet lunch and free flow wine at the Marriott, pick up some duty free on the way home.

    I wouldn’t call it convenient but every two months a day trip to Singapore was no great hardship.

  5. avatar Chris says:

    Hi BB,

    I wouldn’t call it convenient but every two months a day trip to Singapore was no great hardship.

    True, but getting up at 4am or earlier (to catch the early morning flight to Singapore) sucks, no matter how often you need to do it.

  6. avatar timdog says:

    By the way, Chris and BB, the 60-day “tourist” visa that BB refers to is now extendable, just like the sos-bud visa, four times, 30 days a time, up to a six-month total.

    In fact the “tourist visa” actually is now the same thing as a sos-bud, only you don’t need an initial sponsor to apply for it.

    This was all a result of a simplification of the visa codings about four years back, in which business, social and “tourist” visas were all brought under a single code “B211”.
    This has created a loophole – if you apply for a visa and tick “social” you need to provide a sponsor’s letter, and the name of the sponsor will be printed on the visa. If, however, you tick “tourist”, you get exactly the same thing without a sponsor’s letter, and without a named sponsor marked on the visa…

    Once you’re in the country immigration will treat it exactly the same way as a social for extensions, but you are not tied to the original sponsor as you would be with a social visa. This means you can make your initial extension anywhere in the country, with any random as your sponsor…

    Anyway, the point being that if you return to that situation, BB, you’ll no longer need to make the trip to Orchard Road every two months, but only once every six months…

    In Singapore they do ask for a ticket out of Indonesia as the only requirement for a “tourist” b211 visa, but in my experience any old ticket, including one booked for months beyond the initial 60-day expiry date, will satisfy them…

  7. avatar Chris says:

    Here is another source of useful and up to date information about the 2011 Immigration Law:

    Mixed Marriages – Indonesians and Expatriates

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