Procedures for gaining residence status in Indonesia are complicated because of how laws are implemented. There is no uniform way of getting, for example, KITAS (Kartu Izin Tinggal Terbatas) residency status. Each provincial immigration office interprets the law differently, has their own procedure, and can demand extra fees beyond the legal fees.
Types of resident visas
Izin Kunjungan Sosial Budaya Visa (VKSB) - valid for up to six months. The Sosial Budaya, or social-cultural visa requires an Indonesian sponsor. It is valid for 60 days after which it must be extended every month for up to six months. It is used for visiting family, or for social-cultural exchanges. It is a single entry visa; once the holder leaves the country, the visa becomes void.
Kunjungan Beberapa Kali Perjalanan Visa or Sosial Budaya - This is a multiple-entry visa that is valid for 12 months. This is a social-cultural visa and therefore allows multiple entries into and out of the country.
Visa Izin Tinggal Terbatas/Temporary Stay Visa (VITAS) - a Limited-stay Visa or Semi-Permanent Residence Visa: A foreigner hired by an Indonesian company is given a VITAS while still in their home country. This is extended to the worker's spouse and children and is issued after a work permit has been authorised. When a foreign worker and his family arrives in Indonesia, immigration procedures change the VITAS visa to a KITAS visa.
Kartu Izin Tinggal Terbatas or Temporary Residency Permit (KITAS) - valid for six months to one year. A KITAS Visa is the most common visa for foreign residents and requires an Indonesian sponsor. Valid for five years in total, it is first valid for one year and must subsequently be extended/renewed every 12 months.
Kartu Izin Tinggal Tetap or Permanent Residency Permit (KITAP) - The KITAP is valid for five years. After the first period of five years, it can be extended for four more consecutive five-year periods, and is valid for 25 years in total. Lik a KITAS permit, a KITAP Visa requires a sponsor, and is most often given to foreigners who are married to Indonesian citizens and who plan on living in Indonesia permanently.
Retirement Visa - for those aged over 55.
Applying for Indonesian residency
Sponsorship is required for all residency visas. Visas can be acquired through sponsorship in the following ways:
- From an Indonesian citizen who is a sponsor.
- From a company owned and operated by Indonesians
- From an Indonesian institution, public or private
- From foreign-owned companies with a licence to operate in Indonesia
- In the case of an Indonesian citizen who is a sponsor, it is the Indonesian sponsor who asks for a residency visa for a foreigner. The sponsor usually has to submit the required documents, with or without the sponsored party.
Sponsors carry full legal responsibility for their respective party. For example, if the the foreigner commits a crime, the sponsor is liable to pay charges and fines if the foreigner does not have sufficient means to pay. Consequently, it is important that both the sponsor and the foreign party realise the legal responsibilities that the Indonesian citizen (sponsor) has and it is important that the foreigner ensures that the sponsor is aware of these responsibilities.
For example, in the case of marriage, foreigners who marry Indonesian citizens cannot automatically live in Indonesia. They are still required to apply for a residency visa, with the Indonesian spouse acting as sponsor. At first, a foreign spouse is given a KITAS visa. Following two extensions, a KITAS visa holder is eligible for a KITAP visa.
Using an Agent or applying in person:
It is not uncommon for foreigners applying for a visa to hire an agent to complete the paperwork for residency visas. However, the agent’s costs can be as much as ten times the amount of the procedure if completed by yourself. If moving for work purposes for example, your employer (which may or may not also be your sponsor) may help with the costs of hiring an agent to complete the paperwork.
The agent may be employed by your company or work for an independent service bureau 'Biro Jasa'. The agent knows the procedures well and can complete the process relatively easily, nevertheless, the procedure is efficient and not very difficult so a confident expatriate could attempt completing a residency visa by themselves.