A Guide to Visa and Work Permit in Indonesia for Foreigner and Human Resources Professional

When Indonesia is more open to the foreign investment, the same goes to the foreigners who comes to Indonesia either for short business meeting or actually working in Indonesia. However, there is a lack of awareness in both the foreigner themselves and the HR professionals in the Indonesian company,  on the legal requirement of both immigration and manpower for the foreigner visit or their work in Indonesia. It is often that the company and the foreigner faces stiff penalty and punishment which includes fines and jail term when they break the law on immigration and manpower.

In general and for this discussion, we will use the law UU No. 6 Year 2011 on Immigration, Minister of Manpower Regulation, Permenaker No. 16 Year 2015 on the Guidelines on the Usage of Foreign Worker as the legal reference. Both law is easily available in the internet. The other reference that I normally use is Director General of Immigration Circulation Letter No. IMI-3673.GR.01.07 Tahun 2015, which is the summary of both laws mentioned earlier.

Short Visit

Many people believes that foreigner coming from the free visa country to Indonesia can do business activities, which is unfortunately not the case. If we look at the law, the foreigner from free visa country can only do the  followings:

  1. Tourism
  2. Family matters
  3. Social
  4. Arts and cultural
  5. To give a lecture or attending a seminar
  6. Attending a meeting in the HQ or the representative office in Indonesia
  7. Transit

Although item 6 allows the foreigner to attend a meeting, but do mind the frequency and period of the meeting. It may be deemed as working if the period and the frequency of the meeting is excessive.

My suggestion is, if the foreigner comes frequently for the business meeting, Multiple Business Visa (MBV) or Visa 212B will be the best choice. But do note that, although it is called business visa, it is strictly used for ONLY business meeting. The foreigner is not allowed to conduct audit, machine repair, or working on site. To apply the visa, the sponsoring company in Indonesia must apply for telex visa or calling visa in the immigration office. Once the foreigner get the telex or calling visa, they can collect Visa 211B in any Indonesian Embassy or Consulate.

If you intend to conduct an audit which last for less than one month or training, please use a single entry visa 211B. This visa should also not to be used as working visa other than conducting an audit or training. You may also opt for this Visa if you only come for 1-time business meeting in Indonesia. The procedure will be similar to Visa 212B.

Personally, I do not recommend Visa On Arrival (VOA) for business visit as there are many grey areas in the understanding on the usage of this visa between related authorities.

Working in Indonesia

Many HR professionals are not aware that there are 3 types of work permit in Indonesia, emergency work permit, temporary work permit, and work permit.

The emergency work permit is normally used for an urgent work. You may need to apply for this work permit if you need to bring in technician or engineer to repair your machine or equipment. The period of this work permit is maximum 1 month and can not be extended.

The temporary work permit is normally used for project-based assignment for the period of 1 – 6 months. This work permit also can not be extended. If it exceeds that, then normal work permit can be used. The normal work permit can be extended for maximum 5 years period, where each period is 1 year.

I will not discuss about the application procedures as I believe, most of the companies will assign this job to the immigration agents. Nevertheless, I want to share what to be watch out related to this work permit. Many cases shows, including my own experiences, the authority may still find fault in your company and the foreigner although they have valid work permit. Please do observe the following:

  1. There are job positions which are close to the foreigner, including HR and safety officer. Please refer to Minister of Manpower Decree, Kepmenakertrans No. 40 Year 2012.
  2. The title that is mentioned in the work permit or IMTA must match with the organization chart and any other official company documents. Any discrepancy between one’s title in the work permit or IMTA may land your company with violation of the law.
  3. There should not be any duplication of the position in the company’s organization chart. It means that the foreigner is not allowed to hold more than 1 position in the company.
  4. The company is required to assign a successor for any foreigner with work permit. This successor is required as part of the government technology transfer program. The company should ensure the successor assigned is relevant to the work of the foreigner. The successor should be groomed and trained to take over the work of the foreigner in the future.
  5. For those foreigner who has worked for more than 6  months, they are required to be registered as the member of BPJS Ketenagakerjaan (except pension program) and BPJS Kesehatan.
  6. The foreigner who is Indonesia’s territory more than 183 days is required to be registered as Indonesia Tax Resident and must submit their annual tax return form and pay tax in Indonesia.

I hope what I have written can help both the foreigner who intends to visit Indonesia for business purposes or actually working in Indonesia and my fellow HR professionals in Indonesia to understand better on the requirement of law.

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