First, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. While Bali continues to face various challenges with traffic and waste, it seems to only grow as a place for Freelance workers and digital nomads.
While Bali has a range of visas to stay short term, it is not an easy place to try and stay permanently, unless you are either:
- Married to an Indonesian
- Have ongoing work for a company with work permit
- Have your own business
- Are retired and have a pension or investment income
Most governments around the world have been slow to offer visa solutions to people who work online and want to stay longer in a country than the usual tourist visa limitations. Indonesia is no different and they make it very difficult for companies to employ foreigners.
With this in mind, I was surprised to see some agents offering “freelance” visas for a large variety of jobs, which have traditionally been very difficult for foreigners to work legally in Indonesia. Jobs such as yoga instructors and personal trainers.
The visa is called an Impresario Visa and is intended for visiting “entertainers” to Indonesia. Impresario is not commonly used in English and comes from Italian and refers to someone who organizes concerts, plays, and operas.
I can only guess that the visa was created for international performers visiting Indonesia, so they could perform legally in the country. It seems that visa agents have used this as a bit of a loophole and help people to get the Impressario visa for other work, including yoga instructors and personal instructors.
A visa for yoga instructors?
Of course, it is hard to get reliable information as to the effectiveness of this visa for doing freelance work that is not performing in public. I have however seen a couple of examples of people posting on Facebook where their “friend” had their passports taken by immigration and were investigated for working illegally, specifically as a yoga instructor. Unfortunately, people who get into this kind of trouble aren’t willing to share too much information.
It is common for companies and individuals to report foreigners working illegally in Bali. If you think about it from the perspective of a company that has gone through all of the hoops and expense to employ a foreigner, you can understand their feeling if they see people working without the required documentation.
So my own interpretation of this visa, is that is intended for short term use. It could well be used say for someone putting on a conference or retreat. If you use the visa to work at a gym or yoga studio, like from 9-5, Monday to Friday, I would suspect this is when you will have trouble. Or if you start advertising for your own clients, say as a personal trainer. Remember, working visas are usually only given to foreigners who have work experience, which a local person does not possess.
Visa agents obviously have close connections to immigration. Agents are like any business that want to have more clients, so they might not give you a hundred percent clear picture of what you can and cannot do with the visa. If you have any doubts, I would suggest speaking with immigration directly.
If anyone has experience with this visa, please send me an email or share your experience in the comments.