21 January 2017

Work and Stay Permits for Expats in Indonesia

About the long process for obtaining a stay permit in Indonesia

Work and Stay Permits for Expats in Indonesia

For five weeks I have been waiting for my new work and stay permit. Yes, the immigration laws for foreign labourers are quite strict in Indonesia. I have been living here for seven years now, but since the last two years it had become harder to stay here.

As I have understood the amount of foreign workers (or expatriates) have been declining since 2015 too.

New government rules dictate that foreign workers in the IT Sectors are allowed to work in Indonesia for maximum 6 months. The only exception is if you are the director of a company, then you are allowed to get an extendable 12 month work permit. I used to be able to stay in the country with a 12 month permit too, but that changed.

Any way, so on 10 December 2016 I had to leave Indonesian territory because my work permit and stay permit expired; and extentions are not allowed. So I went and flew back to Europe and stayed at my parents' place while waiting for the new documents. On 14 January 2017 it was finished; I was allowed to go back to my home in Indonesia.

It happened so that my work permit (called an IMTA) was approved within 9 calendar days after I had to leave the country with an EPO stamp in my passport (Exit Permit Only). Unfortunately the application for my stay permit did not go so smooth:

First my office could not apply for the stay permit (called an ITAS) because the government allows max. 600 foreigners to apply for a stay permit daily. The limit was already reached within five minutes after the counter got reset on the immigration website at 00:00 hrs so the first day was not a success. The next day my office managed to log in before the limit, but could not upload the necessay documents because of a poor connection to the server and then the daily limit was reached again, so the second day failed too. The next day finally it worked, however my office submitted the wrong documents (namely the work permit from 6 months ago, not this one); three days later they got the news the application failed; now six days had gone by. The fourth try all documents were correct, and three days later an online interview was to be conducted between my office and the immigration office. That call did not happen because the Skype username used by my colleague did not contain the name of my office; this was deemed as unofficial and the call was cancelled by immigration. And so they had to reschedule the call... another day failed. The next day, with a new Skype account, the call was initiated. However because the internet connection was so poor they could not communicate properly and the interview was cancelled again and another day was lost.. The next day it was finally a succes and my office could visit the immigration office the next day to finish the application. So that happened, however the application at the office was halted because my colleague did not bring a bank statement with proof that my company has at least 1,500 USD to cover the "expat costs" fund they have to pay as a fine for not hiring a local. Another day was lost again. Finally the day after that everything was okay and the immigration office said they would inform my office once the telex would've been sent to the embassy in the country I was waiting in.

Three days later the telex was sent to the embassy. My office got notified two days later about it and send me the copy of that telex. Finally I could go to the embassy and apply for the VITAS (visa for my ITAS) that would grant me access to go back home. After paying the visa costs and waiting for another 4 days to get the sticker in my passport I could finally go back home.

The whole ordeal left me and my boss unhappy with the delays as it negatively affected the work efficiency I am hired to improve and manage in the office.

Luckily I am back now! Yesterday I also received my KITAS (card -kartu- of my ITAS) too! 25 weeks from now we can start the whole process again. I hope it will be done faster.

Of course after obtaining your KITAS, you are not finished yet. As soon as your get this proof of your limited stay, you have to report yourself to the local police station to get a typewrited report form called an STM. In my case I went to Polres Metropolitan Jakarta-Barat. You need to bring a copy of your passport (the page with your personalia and the page of your VITAS sticker), a copy of your KITAS, and a copy of the identity card (KTP) who should actually report you. You can use the KTP of the owner of the place you live, or you can use the KTP of a representativw of your office (in that case you also have to bring a copy of your IMTA). The report can be made within 5 minutes, but sometimes they may ask you to come back the next day to pick it up. Be aware that the officer may ask you for money as "bantuan administrasi"; even though the report is free of charge.

After you are finished with the police, there is still one more thing to do: register yourself at the "cacatan sipil". You have to bring a copy of your KITAS, passport (personalia + VITAS), a domicile letter from your local Pak RT, a letter from your company requesting the civil registry office to process your report, and again a copy of your IMTA. The registration should be free of charge, however it may take 14 days before you can come back to receive your temporary residence card(SKTT).


A friend of mine was sent abroad to attend a meeting/conference 2 days after his arrival in Indonesia. He did not start his KITAS and MREP (multiple re-entry permit) application at the immigration office yet, so when he flew out the immigration officers at Soekarno-Hatta stamped his passport as "left" and marked his VITAS as used. As a result he could not re-enter Indonesia, and he had to start the entire visa application from the start, leaving the country again to contact an Indonesian embassy abroad.


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