Indonesia Flag

Indonesia – Expat Permit U-Turn

Immigration was big news in Indonesia this past month, with dramatic twists and turns to rival any soap opera.

It all began earlier in the summer, when the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower announced drastic changes in foreign worker regulations. Without warning, and indeed in stark contrast to President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo’s supposedly foreigner-friendly policies, the Ministry suddenly declared and enforced a swathe of new requirements (relating to Ministerial Regulation, PP no. 16 of 2015 from 29 June 2015).

Foremost amongst them was the need for every company to hire ten Indonesians for every expatriate employed. Next, all visitors had to have work permits too, and finally, even directors and commissioners of Indonesian companies who live abroad were going to need a work permit, even if they had no plans to set foot on the archipelago.

Naturally, the new rulings brought confusion and not a little panic to the local expat community, and to any business hoping to attract foreign investment. Paperwork for proper work permits is already taxing, and these arbitrary rulings would mean serious barriers to expats and foreign investors trying to get on with their day-to-day business.

After some months of disquiet, the Ministry seemed to heed the business community’s concerns, and performed an about-face with a revision of PP no.16 of 2015; i.e. no.35, of 23 October 2015, which stated, amongst other things, that:

• The ten-to-one rule is scrapped
• Visitors on business trips are no longer required to get IMTAs first
• Non-residents don’t need work permits either.

The regulation confirmed once and for all the above issues, as well as quashing rumours regarding the requirement for foreigners to speak Bahasa Indonesia, which has also been much discussed in 2015. In practice, although the language is not a prerequisite for gaining a work permit, it will help on arrival in Indonesia.

It is worth bearing in mind that the process for obtaining a work permit for a foreigner is still stringent and arduous. Restrictions on the type of work foreigners can do here remain – one such example is the human resources industry, where expats are forbidden to work. Lots of paperwork is required, with the onus chiefly on the hiring company to prove to the Ministry their need for an expat, and in turn to prove that the chosen person has the relevant qualifications and background to do the work.

It is now possible – in theory – to submit the application online. But of course, all documentation must be present and correct in order to do this.

Now more than ever it is beneficial to look to Reloc8 Asia Pacific Group – Indonesia to help you navigate the often-tricky waters of immigration in Indonesia!