Covid-19 has changed the business environment drastically. Companies have been forced to implement work-from-home policies, by requiring their employees to work either full time or part-time from home. This new development allows more and more people to work remotely for their company. Bali has been a hot spot for digital nomads for many years now, and this will only increase after covid-19 border restrictions are lifted in the near future.
VISA OPTIONS FOR DIGITAL NOMADS IN INDONESIA
Before Covid-19 took over the world, foreign travelers had several visa options to visit Indonesia. Below is an overview of the available options.
VISA & EXEMPTION WHICH FOREIGNERS CAN OBTAIN AT THE BORDER
- Visa exemption. With a visa exemption foreigners can enter Indonesia without the need to apply for a visa. This type of visa is most popular by foreigners who come to Bali / Indonesia for a short holiday. This visa exemption is valid for maximum 30 days and no extension is possible. After 30 days, the foreign traveler must leave Indonesia to avoid overstaying their visa.
- Visa on Arrival. Foreigners can purchase a visa on arrival at a special counter at the airport for USD 35.00. The advantage of a visa on arrival for most foreigners is that it is valid for 30 days and is extendable for another 30 days. So with a visa on arrival foreign travels can stay for a period of up to 60 days in Indonesia. For extension of the visa, the foreigner will need to attend a biometrics session at the local Immigration office.
VISAS & PERMITS WHICH REQUIRE APPROVAL BEFORE ENTRY INTO INDONESIA
- Single entry visa. The most used type of visa by digital nomads is the single entry visa. This type of visa allows for an initial period of stay of 60 days. After the initial period, foreigners can extend the visa for up to 4 times for 30 days per extension. In total, a foreign travel can stay in Indonesia for up to 6 months using the single entry visa. There are a few consideration though. Firstly, the single entry visa requires an Indonesian sponsor (company or individual). Without a sponsor, a foreigner cannot apply for this type of visa. Secondly, the visa does not allow foreigners to leave Indonesia during the validity period. Once a foreigner leaves Indonesia, the visa will be invalidated. Once invalid, the foreign traveler cannot use the visa anymore to re-enter Indonesia.
- Multiple entry visa. The visa is valid for 12 months and during these 12 months foreigner can visit Indonesia multiple times for stays of up to 60 days per visit. Digital nomads who have frequent international travels often use this type of visa. Only Indonesian companies can sponsor this type of visa. Indonesian individuals cannot act as sponsor for a multiple entry visa.
- Work and stay permit (ITAS / KITAS). The work and stay permit allows foreigners to stay in Indonesia for up to 12 months. During this period, foreigners can freely travel in and out Indonesia. This type of visa is much more expensive than the options explained above and also requires an employment under a local company. Therefore this option is not always feasible for digital nomads.
WHAT TYPE OF VISA OR PERMIT DO YOU NEED AS DIGITAL NOMAD?
Digital nomads must be aware of the existing immigration regulations in Indonesia to avoid troubles with local authorities. Indonesian regulations clearly state that foreigners who are working for a company in Indonesia and receive wages in Indonesia must apply for a work permit. Digital nomads, however, often work freelance or work for a company abroad and are therefore unable to apply for a work permit in Indonesia. Indonesian regulations do not clearly regulate this type of remote working. As a result, digital nomads are finding themselves in a grey area.
This grey area makes it risky for digital nomads to work on a visa exemption, visa on arrival, single or multiple entry visa in Indonesia. Immigration officers can use / abuse the unclarity in the law to put foreigners under pressure or impose administrative sanctions. The Indonesian immigration is well known for its iron fist. In 2020 the Directorate General of Immigration took firm action by giving Immigrational sanctions to 5,105 foreigners where 1,582 foreigners were deported.
Based on the above, we advise digital nomads to obtain a proper work permit when working from Indonesia. Our partner firm can provide corporate sponsorship services, also known as employer of record (EOR) services. Under the employer of record (EOR) services, our sponsor company will hire the digital nomad , which allows the foreigner to apply for a work and stay permit (ITAS) in Indonesia.