Immigration. The mere mention of the name is enough to send shudders down the spine of many an expat. At some stage we all have to deal with them and it is an experience none of us really enjoy. But believe it or not, in some respects Indonesian immigration are making it easier for some of us to stay in Indonesia at a time when many western countries are busy slamming the door.
The 2006 law on citizenship was the first step. That allowed children of mixed marriage couples to adopt dual nationality, at least for the first 18 years of their life. A major step forward from the sight of two-year-old children doing annual visa runs to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur with passports and paperwork in one hand and pampers in the other.
In 2011 a new immigration brought further welcome relief for those in mixed marriages, allowing an Indonesian national to sponsor their legally married partner for a temporary stay or permanent stay visa (KITAS and KITAP). These changes have come about thanks to patient work behind the scenes by organizations like Srikandi and Alliansi Pelangi Antar Bangsa, both looking to impact Indonesian laws that directly affect mixed marriages.
A recent seminar hosted by Srikandi looked to help explain the recent law changes with senior officials from Immigration Directorate and the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, with both departments providing slideshow presentations of how they dealt with us! Despite being promoted as dealing with the transferring of a KITAS to a KITAP, in truth it covered a wider range of areas.
Under the provisions of the Undang Undang Keimigrasian Nomor 6/2011 (Immigration Act), a KITAP allowing a stay of five years with unlimited extensions (article 59 I & II) is available to a foreigner ‘after 2 (two) years marriage’ (article 60 II). More and more foreigners have been taking advantage of the new law to upgrade to the KITAP, and if the experiences of posters on the Living In Indonesia Forum are any guide, more are taking to doing the change themselves, trooping down to the once forbidding Kantor Imigrasi with the necessary paperwork and a copy of the law as moral support.
The process itself is easy – on paper! If a partner is already sponsoring a KITAS the following documents are needed to get the ball rolling.
The official cost is Rp.3,055,000 for the KITAP, including biometric pictures and Rp.200,000 for the SKLD. If you are doing this yourself and the officials try to ask for more money, you could politely show them Peraturan Permintah RI nomor 38 tahun 2009 which is available for download on the State Secretariat website.
Once you have all the paperwork the next step is to visit your local Kantor Imigrasi (KanIm) and this is where the fun begins! Officials there may not be aware of the new regulations, or pretend they are not aware of the new regulations. They may even be aware of the regulations but decide to put their own value on them! Or they may direct you to a friend of theirs who will decide the official prices aren’t high enough.
After the seksi statuskim has accepted all the paperwork is in place, you are to see the seksi waskadkim who will check you are who you say you are, your sponsor is who they say they are, and you have not been a naughty person. If that individual is happy, you go back to the first seksi statuskim who will have to write a letter of recommendation to the kakanim to sign and return it to the seksi statuskim who then tells DitJenIm (Immigration Directorate) the KITAP process can begin. You can then take the letter to the KanWil yourself along with all the documents.
If the DitJenIm is happy with the paperwork and recommendations, they will send a letter, or you can collect it yourself, to the KanWil who instructs the KanIm to issue the KITAP. It is not until this stage that you actually pay any money!
How long this takes is anyone’s guess and will vary from city to city, but it can be done with patience and determination.
Among the many other interesting points raised at the seminar, one was made by a gentleman from DitJenIm who said that anyone with a wife sponsoring their KITAS or KITAP would receive their permission to work much quicker than previously. However, it is indicative of how bureaucracy moves in Indonesia that the other speaker from Manpower and Transmigration seemed less exuberant about this.
Indeed the tone between the two speakers was different. Immigration talked about changes brought about by the laws of 2006 and 2011, while Manpower seemed quagmire in older laws.
Peter Beilby has spent 10 years working with Immigration in Indonesia and he feels, while there is still confusion regarding recent changes, at least the government, “is trying to make the process easier”. Now an Indonesian citizen himself, Beilby recalls how, when he started consulting immigration offices, they were venues of sloth and lethargy. He describes them today as, “a hive of activity”, and reputations aside, things are slowly getting better for those of us who would like to call Indonesia home.
For those on the outside, dealing with bureaucracy can be a nightmare, while for the layman keeping track of the law and its implantation is on a par with reading Aramaic. Matters are not helped by misinformation and poor reporting in the national media.
But it is possible. The Law and Visas board at the Living in Indonesia Forum (www.livinginindoinesianforum.org) is a treasure seeker’s delight of information and potential problems with knowledgeable expats sharing their experiences while its mother site, www.expat.or.id, offers more concise advice.
The two organizations mentioned previously, Srikandi and Alliansi Pelangi Antar Bangsa are also able to offer advice, but they are voluntary organizations existing on member’s fees. I am sure they would also welcome people as members!