I wish I could tell you all the steps required to secure a work permit in Indonesia. I wish I could describe how hard it was for me to deal with the various bureaucracies without an understanding of the laws or the language. But sorry, can’t do it. My employer, through a third party local, took care of everything.
Early in January, I reminded my boss that I was approaching one year in-country and would need to renew my KITAS if I was to remain employed at Smiling Hill. Did he want me to continue? You never know. Turned out he was wondering if I was ready to move on.
When I arrived in Batam Jan. 18, 2012, I was required to purchase a 30-day visa on arrival at the Harbour Bay ferry terminal ($25). It allowed me to stay in-country until a one-year work permit could be acquired. This time around, I had until Feb. 16 to renew the visa. All the work, the running around from government office to government office, the paperwork, was handled without my input. All that our outsourced assistant, Rini, needed was my passport and current KITAS, which were quickly returned to me.
Interestingly, between Jan. 18 and Feb. 16, I was not allowed re-entry into Indonesia if I left the country.
Yesterday, Feb. 16, was my last legal day in Indonesia without a new visa and I still do not have one. On Friday, I was informed I needed to go to the immigration office in Batam Centre to have my picture taken for the new visa. So I put on my long pants and rode the 6-8 miles with Sarijan through the as-usual bad traffic on a Friday afternoon. As usual, we barely missed wiping out a few of the crazy motorbikers along the way.
Immigration is in a huge building on the water; the views from the government offices is awesome. I told Sarijan as we waited for my turn that in the U.S. such a location would most likely be owned by the private sector, and the offices rents would be high. Here, the government selects the best locations for itself and often has the most impressive buildings.
When we arrived at the third floor, Rini was waiting for us. I gave her my documents and she had me sign two forms. I have no idea what they were. I waited for maybe five minutes before being called into a small side room, where a burly local sat behind a desk complete with camera, computer and digital fingerprint reader. They took all 10 of my fingerprints but there is no ink involved – just press your digit into a spot lit in blue. My picture was taken and I was done.
The trip to and from the immigration office took 45 minutes; my time there was maybe 10 minutes. Rini said she would repatriate me with my passport and new work permit Monday (tomorrow). I can stay in Indonesia for another year and will be good to travel once again (which I’m doing the end of April with a long-needed visit to the U.S.).
I think the one-year work permit costs about $1,200. I don’t know what Rini charges for her services but I’m sure it’s worth not having to go through the process myself.