So you are thinking that working in Bali (or elsewhere in Indonesia) is sounding pretty good after your holiday. But working in Indonesia is highly regulated, and the penalties for working without the necessary work permit can be quite severe. This guide will take you through what’s required to live and work legally in Bali or anywhere else in Indonesia.
The Sponsoring Company
You first need to know whether you will be working for another company already established in Indonesia or starting your own. If you intend to start your own business in Bali you will need to for a Foreign Investment Company (called a PT PMA) and then apply for a Foreign Investor Visa (called a KITAS).
If you have a company offering you a job to work in Indonesia they need to sponsor you into what is known as a Working Visa. Let’s be crystal clear on this – the local company must meet certain requirements and be involved in providing the paperwork necessary to allow us to process your application.
Most domestic companies don’t have a solid understanding of what’s required to employ foreign workers, often taking unnecessary shortcuts that often end badly for the foreign worker who may or may not understand they are working and living in Indonesia illegally.
The penalties for breaking Indonesian immigration law are severe – with fines up to IDR 500 million (approx. USD $45,000.00), and the possibility of being detained and deported (with deportation costs at your personal expense).
That’s why we only offer a complete end-to-end Working Visa solution for all our clients because the best way to fix a problem is to not create one by making mistakes at the beginning.
The sponsoring company must either be a domestically registered company (PT), a foreign-owned investment company (PT PMA), Non-Government Organisation (NGO or Yayasan in Bahasa) or a registered Representative Office.
The application process for a Working Visa
First, the applicant applies for an electronic visa (called a VITAS) which si what you need to enter Indonesia. It’s an electronic visa that you print out at home and provide with your passport at immigration at the airport to enter Indonesia.
After arrival you then have your VITAS converted to a KITAS (temporary stay permit) that comes with a Multiple Re-entry Permit (MPRE) allowing the holder to leave and return to Indonesia as many times as they like at will.
Here’s where a Working Visa is different and therefore much more complex than other types of visas.
The first detail to get right is the company’s approval from the Ministry of Manpower to employ a foreign worker, called a Rencana Pengesahan Tenaga Kerja Asing (RPTKA). This is simply an acknowledgement from the ministry that the company is allowed to apply for a foreigner’s work permit.
The next most important aspect is the Job Classification that must be approved by the Ministry for Manpower. This ministry has its own evolving list of applicable job titles and roles. Fitting your application with the most appropriate title and role is our job, and we have vast experience matching the role with your application.
However, you must be specific as to what your job title will be and be clear about the role you may perform in your duty of work.
For example, you cannot apply for and be granted a work permit as a Marketing Manager for a hotel group and then end up working as a chef.
This will result in the worker being issued an Izin Mempekerjakan Tenaga Asing (IMTA, or Work Permit).
The most cost and time-efficient method for getting all these ducks in a row are to provide us with the correct documentation in the first instance, which is why we have developed a seamless system for both the sponsoring company and the worker to collate the required documentation and shepherd the application through the minefield to completion.
Can I change jobs?
Short answer, no.
The key features of a Working Visa are:
- You must be working for the same company.
- You must be working within the same job title and job description.
Changing companies or job titles means cancelling your current KITAS and applying for a new one from scratch.
We have methods to minimise the disruption caused by a change of job should it be necessary, but it all relies on honest and transparent communication with our team, viable lead times and careful coordination of applications with the sponsoring company.
How long is a Working Visa valid?
Depending on the specific categorisation of your job title your KITAS may be granted for either 6 or 12 months.
The 6-month version is a little easier, and popular with freelance “visa agents” but is a headache if the applicant intends to continue in the role for more than 6 months because it must be cancelled and reapplied from scratch.
The 12-month classification can be renewed 4 times when working for the same company and obviously allows for enough time to apply for and be granted a different type of visa should your intentions be to work and live in Indonesia for a longer period of time.
The application process also includes a police report (STM) which is not a background check, but simply an acknowledgement to the district police that a qualified foreigner resides within that district.
A Residential Permit (SKTT) is also supplied which acknowledges to the local district civil service that a foreigner is qualified to reside at the registered residential address.
The process of converting your entry visa (VITAS) into your Work Permit (KITAS) will require a personal visit at the local district immigration office after your arrival for a biometric fingerprint scan and ID photo.
How much does it cost?
The cost for a Foreign Working Visa is IDR 15 million for the Stay and Work Permit (KITAS & IMTA).
Some companies or freelancers will advertise a much lower price because that’s for the “standard” processing time, which generally takes up to 6 months and for that reason is not a service we offer. All our Working Visa applications use express processing which costs a little more but we get results within 35 business days.
There is also a mandatory Skill Development Fund fee charged by the Ministry of Manpower of IDR 18 million (approx. USD $1,200.00) for a total cost of IDR 33 million (approx. USD $2,200.00).
Again, some agencies will advertise cheaper but that’s for the 6-month Work Permit, which we don’t recommend to our clients because as mentioned earlier, its causes more problems than it’s worth down the track whenever the issue of renewals comes up.