A good friend of mine recently complained about how much money she spent on sponsoring her Australian husband to live in Indonesia. However regardless the money she said, the time and energy she put on meeting the right people in the Immigration department, preparing all the documents and waiting for the decision were overwhelming. I also remembered my time 12 years ago, going through that sponsorship situation with my husband with the Australian Immigration. It was a tedious situation, where you had to fight to prove that your foreign partner has the right to live in your country so that you can be together.
Australia recognises different ways for foreigners to live in Australia and enjoy the Australian soil and benefits. Most common ways I believe, apart from Refugee Visa;
Spouse and Family Sponsored Visa – this visa is obviously for those whose partner is an Australian Permanent Residence (PR) or Australian citizen wishing to sponsor their foreign partner to live in Australia. A Family Sponsored Visa is for Australian PR or citizen wishing to sponsor their immediate family member like their child(ren) or their mum and dad to live in Australia.
Work Visa – this visa is for those wishing to live in Australia using their skill or expertise. This is either through an employer sponsored visa, where you find an eligible Australian business or company that is willing to employ and sponsor you to live in Australia (popular with 457 Visa or a foreign student studying in Australia employed by an Australian company), or a Skilled Migration Visa where you possess certain skills listed in the Australian Skill Select List issued by Immigration.
Business Visa – this visa allows foreign investors that invest in Australia to apply for their permanent residency, e.g opening a restaurant or establishing a business in Australia. Apparently Australia was ranked no. 3 for the easiest country for investing a business.
All terms and conditions for these visas and all other opportunities to live in Australia are very well written in Australian immigration website, I found the website is very informative. Based on my experience applying for a Student Visa and then changing it to a Spouse Sponsored Visa, I found the Australian bureaucratic process pretty straight forward. As long as you tick all boxes and supply all requested paperwork, your application will most likely be approved. In my opinion, Australia is quite open and very reasonable with foreigners wanting to live here.
Indonesia, on the other hand, has always been well known as an “exclusive” country. The old Law No 62/1958 clearly stipulates that Indonesian citizenship follows parental blood line and in this regards, paternal (father) line. A baby from a foreign citizen will not automatically become Indonesian, just because he/she were born in Indonesia. Indonesia is not as open as Australia and they’re extremely strict about living and working in Indonesia. However the good news is, Indonesia has come a long way since that old 1958 law. For a start, in 2006 through Law 12/2006 regarding Indonesian Nationality (which replaced UU 2/1958), child(ren) below 18 years old that come from mixed marriages will automatically be granted Indonesian citizenship. They are allowed to hold dual citizenship until they are 18 years of age, then they must choose. Even so, that law gives lots of privileges and concessions for those adult children who choose to give up their Indonesian citizenship. They can easily apply for ITAS (Semi Permanent Resident Visa) and ITAP (Permanent Resident Visa) and, they are allowed to work in Indonesia (without a company sponsorship) however, I would receive consultation regarding this clause with Indonesian Immigration.
In regards to applying for Indonesian citizenship, both UU 62/1958 and UU 12/2006 ask the foreign applicant to live in Indonesia 5 years continuously or 10 years not continually, which I believe is a long time. So how about foreign partners from mixed marriages? Considering Indonesia respects the paternal side of the blood line, must a foreign man that married an Indonesian woman live in Indonesia for 5 years or 10 years? Rest assured, the answer is No. Law No. 6/2011 re. Immigration states that your Indonesian wife or husband can sponsor you to live in Indonesia by applying for ITAS for 2 years which can then be extended. If you have been married for 2 years or more or if you have been living in Indonesia for at least 3 years, you can then apply for ITAP which is valid for 5 years and can be extended for an unidentified time. More good news is, Law 6/2011 also states that the foreign spouse that holds ITAS or ITAP sponsored by their Indonesian spa use is allowed to work in Indonesia. However, I would be very careful with that clause, as Indonesia is well known to be extremely strict about foreigners wanting to work there. If you are a ITAS or ITAP holder sponsored by your Indonesian spouse and you intend to work in Indonesia, I would personally be seeking consultation with the Department of Manpower and Immigration.
As you can see Indonesia has come a long way to support foreigners wanting to live in Indonesia, either temporary as an expatriate worker or to support their business/investment in Indonesia or permanently due to a family or marriage relationship. Government Regulation No 31/2013 regarding the stipulation of UU 6/2011 regarding Immigration Law states that a Visitor Visa now also allows you to conduct a short business trip or activities such as attending business meetings, attending conferences or training or conducting feasibility studies for your future investment in Indonesia, or even for prospective foreign workers conducting a field test before commencing their contract work. This Visitor Visa can be the Visitor Visa on Arrival (30 days and can be extended for another 30 days) or a Short Visit Visa (30 days non extendable) or Multiple Visit Visa (valid for a year non extendable and cannot be more than 60 days). This is a milestone from what a visitor visa was intended to be used for previously: strictly no business could be conducted.
Last but not least on 24th June 2015, in the Business Indonesia newspaper front page, President Joko Widodo blesses Foreign Ownership on Property in Indonesia. The regulation is still under revision in the House of Representatives but is expected to be legalised by next year. Rumours suggest that Foreigners will be able to own property in Indonesia. The title might still be called Right of Use (Hak Pakai, or now they called it Hak Guna Pakai) but instead will have 25 years of rights. Under this new draft, this Right of Use can be for an unidentified time (seumur hidup) and can be inherited. However, rumour also suggests that the government will set a minimum price of Rp. 5 billion on the property. Still, there is another door opened.
Well I must say that I am very proud of Indonesia for coming a long way and its willingness to change to open more doors to foreign investment.