Work Permit Application in Indonesia: Difficulties Faced

When in the second half of 2018 the Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Law and Human Rights issued their implementing regulations of Presidential Regulation 20 of 2018, the aim was to streamline the work permit and stay permit application procedure. The President of Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, stated that “the new regulation is aimed to cut red tape in an effort to make Indonesia’s investment climate more competitive”. Now over 1 year after the implementation of the new immigration system based on these new regulations, agents and companies are still facing problems when applying for work and stay permits for foreign workers.

Work Permit and Stay Permit

The three most used work and stay permits are, firstly, the Emergency Permit (Emergency ITAS), which is valid for up to 1 month (read also: Emergency Work Permit). Secondly, the Short Term Work Permit, which is valid for up to 6 months (read also: Short Term Work Permit). And thirdly, the Long Term Work Permit, which is valid for up to 12 months (read also: Long Term Work Permit).

Before the foreign worker can enter and start working in Indonesia, the following permits need to be arranged:

  • The Foreign Workers Utilization Plan (Rencana Penggunaan Tenaga Kerja Asing or RPTKA), which mentions to the company’s plan to hire foreign workers;
  • Notification, which is issued for each foreign worker and contains specific information about the foreign worker;
  • Limited Stay Visa (Visa Tinggal Terbatas or VITAS), which is the visa issued by the Indonesian Embassy abroad, which is a prerequisite for a foreign worker to enter Indonesia and obtain the limited stay permit (see below);
  • Limited Stay Permit (Izin Tinggal Terbatas or ITAS), which is the permit issued by immigration which allows the foreign worker to stay for a limited time in Indonesia

The RPTKA and the Notification are issued by the Ministry of Manpower and combined the both permits can be considered as the work permit of the foreign worker.

The invitation letter of the VITAS is issued by the Directorate General of Immigration and sent to the Indonesian Embassy where the foreign worker intends to pick-up the VITAS. Once the foreign worker enters Indonesia, the ITAS will be issued on the airport. Family members of the foreign workers will need to process their ITAS at the local immigration office.

Under the new immigration system, the Ministry of Manpower and Immigration work with a new integrated, which allows smoother processing of all permits.

Difficulties Faced Obtaining Foreign Worker Permits

The integrated immigration system certainly has streamlined the work and stay permit application process. However, unfortunately foreign workers and companies still face a variety of problems during the application of permits. The major problems are set out below:

  1. VTT can only be picked up at a limited number of Indonesian Embassies. Previously foreign workers could pick up their limited stay visa (VTT) at 65 embassies. Currently there are only 24 Indonesian Embassies that can issue the VTT sticker. This often requires foreign workers to travel another country to pick up the sticker, which obviously is inconvenient.
  2. Wrong ITAS sticker issued. Very frequently foreign workers receive the wrong ITAS sticker at the airport, which requires them to report to the local immigration office, and re-apply for the ITAS. This process will take up to 10 working days, during which period their passports are retained by the immigration office. This often leads to major problems, as many of these foreign workers have full travel schedules and are unable to stay for a period of 10 working days in Indonesia. As a result, they are often required to cancel the work and stay permit and re-apply for new permits. The government explained that this issue is happening because the Border Control Management is still under maintenance.
  3. System Outages. The online system of Immigration and the Ministry of Manpower is frequently down for maintenance. As a result applications cannot be submitted, which will lead to additional delays. The outages are usually not announced before, which makes it very difficult to manage processing times.
  4. Processing times are not in all cases reduced. The government’s aim to cut the processing times is only partially met. Due to system outages and improper issuance of stamps, the processing time is often longer than anticipated.

To date, the work and stay permit application remains complex and unpredictable. Our team of over 35 experts serves over 5000 cases per year and is ready to assist you with your work and stay permit application. For further information or tailored advice on your specific inquiry, please feel free contact us.