An article popped up in my news feed titled “Visa concerns for Australians living in Bali provide an unwanted reality check“. The headline obviously caught my attention.

The article was talking about an internal immigration memo put out by the head of immigration in Bali, which I wrote about here on October 24. At the time expats living in Bali on tourist/social and business visas were understandably worried. The directive was put out to try and curb the possible misuse of these visas by foreigners working illegally.

The memo was obtained by a visa agent who then started posting rumors of a possible crackdown. Some people thought the agent was just trying to drum up new business. I am sure there are many foreigners abusing the system by working on tourist visas when in fact they should have a working visa. There are also many people who earn income outside Indonesia and are not eligible for retirement our family visas, so either stay in the country on a social or tourist visa. I know because some of my friends live like this. Bali has also become a popular place for FIFO workers to base themselves.

The directive was retracted 10 days after it was initially announced and many foreigners breathed a sigh of relief. This was not mentioned in the original article, but I can see now it has been updated and says “It is unclear if the directive has been enforced, or whether it may have been revoked.” Well I can say that it has definitely been revoked.

As the Indonesian economy has faltered, the government has taken steps to boost tourism and investment to the country, including free visas for many countries (excluding Australia) and an easing on the restrictions for working visas.

From the article:

Beyond these visa options, there is little scope for Australian nationals to achieve permanent resident status. While there is a permanent residence permit, it is available only for a five-year period.

Actually there is a great deal of scope to live permanently in Bali. A KITAS is good for one year and KITAP for 5 years. Both can be easily renewed as long as you continue to meet the requirements. A KITAP is a permanent stay permit. At least in the case of the spouse sponsored KITAP, the 2nd renewal is for life!

From my own personal experience, I have found immigration easier to deal with since first moving to Indonesia, probably due to becoming more familiar with dealing with the bureaucracy, but there has also been some noticeable improvements in efficiency and communication with foreigners.

While there is concern about some foreigners working illegally, the almost immediate revoking of the crackdown directive does show there are some people in the government who understand the economic value foreigners bring to the country.