Work Permit for Startup Founders and Workers in Indonesia
The topic of startups still remains a murky area for Indonesian immigration, especially when it comes to specific work permits. However, most individual work permits are usually regulated under KITAS (Kartu Izin Tinggal Terbatas, Limited Stay Permit). The types of KITAS that this article will be covering are the ones intended for top-level executives and people listed in the startup incorporation documents, as well as employees (ranked managers and below).
If you’re a foreign startup founder or a prospective worker looking to come to Indonesia, here are some tips on obtaining work permits. Be aware that this article is in no way exhaustive and may require further updating should regulations change. Moreover, we strongly suggest you do further readings and visit the sources we cited for full context.
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1. Make Sure Your Company is Properly Registered
The first rule of getting a working KITAS is that you need a sponsorship from a company or organization with legal validity in Indonesia. Such agencies include a foundation, a representative office, an Indonesian-owned company (PT PMDN), or a foreign-owned company (PT PMA). Most foreign startups fall under PT PMA, regardless of whether or not your co-founder is Indonesian since all entities with even just 1% of foreign ownership are considered foreign companies.
Sponsorship from your startup is crucial. Your startup should be able to detail an applicant’s job title according to the regulations imposed by the Ministry of Manpower.
Your startup, as a KITAS sponsor, will be fully and legally responsible for their visa applicants. Therefore, you will have to be critically aware of responsibilities such as covering charges and fines if applicants fail to do so.
We won’t be going at length about how to incorporate your company in Indonesia in this article. However, we’d be happy to direct you to this Tech in Asia article for details on preparing for startup incorporations. For legal walk-throughs, we recommend that you check out this page from Indonesia Investments and Cekindo.
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2. Know Your KITAS Types and Validity Periods
In general, KITAS is available in three different types according to the purpose of the VISA applicant. They include a working visa for long-term workers, a dependent VISA for spouses and children, and a retirement visa for retirees from selected nationalities. According to Greenhouse, the work KITAS is what you’ll need to focus on most if you’re intending to work.
A KITAS is valid for a single period ranging from six to twelve months, depending on your position. For people with names stated in company incorporation documents and people in the directing and commissioning board, their KITAS validity period is twelve months. For employees ranked managers, the stay period is six months (although they can extend the period up to twelve months).
Keep in mind, however, that you can extend your KITAS regardless of what position you hold, provided you can fulfill the necessary administrative requirements. You can apply for KITAS extensions every twelve months for up to five times. In other words, your KITAS is valid for five years in total.
Tip: Renew your KITAS two months before the expiration date.
3. Apply for the KITAS (and Related Procedures)
According to Cekindo, there are several steps you need to take for acquiring KITAS. The visa application process in Indonesia can be quite stressful, with a possible 10-week waiting period. For startups applying for work KITAS for the first time, we recommend that you consult with service providers to avoid unnecessary setbacks along the way.
To reiterate, your startup is responsible for confirming your applicants’ work location in Indonesia and job title. That is important for obtaining the working permit/IMTA (Ijin Mempekerjakan Tenaga Kerja Asing/ Foreign Worker Employment Permit), which you’ll need to get before applying for a KITAS work visa.
In the early stages, you need to first apply for the Pre-IMTA/Pre-Working Permit Approval. Have a representative from your local team to propose the employment of expatriates to the Local Manpower Department. Then an interview will be conducted by the Ministry of Manpower. After your proposal is approved, the Ministry will inform you of your stay period in Indonesia.
Now, we’re getting to the actual IMTA. Before approval of IMTA, you will need to prepare a monthly payment of 100 USD for the DKP-TKA (Compensation Fund for Employment of Foreign Workers). Afterward, you’d have your IMTA approved. Now, you’re clear to obtain KITAS.
But wait, there’s more! Before finally getting your KITAS, you will first have to collect your VITAS (Visa Tinggal Terbatas, Temporary Stay Visa) before setting foot in the country.
First, you need to apply for a Telex Visa as a pre-approval step. After five working days, the Indonesian Immigration Office at Jakarta will then issue a VITAS approval and telecommute it to the Indonesian embassy in your country. After you’ve received a notification of your issued VITAS, you can collect it in person before planning your move to Indonesia.
Now, it’s time to convert your VITAS into a KITAS Work Visa alongside a MERP (Multiple Exit Re-Permit). Once you arrive in Indonesia, you will have 30 days to undergo this process. You are not allowed to leave the country, or your VITAS will become obsolete (as VITAS is for single entry only).
The steps for converting into KITAS should be more streamlined if you’re working with an Indonesian law consultant. Several steps you will need to take are preparing application forms together with the required documents, and undergoing biometric data processing in person at the Immigration Office, and going through the paperwork with your law consultant of choice. Follow the entire process for a total of 8 working days.
Immediately upon approval, your KITAS record, together with MERP, will be available online. Use the KITAS and MERP for exiting and re-entering Indonesia multiple times. Both have the same validity period as long as your startup is valid as a sponsor.
The final step is personal civil registration and reporting, a mandatory step you must do, 14 days after the KITAS is issued. This step is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is prepare the necessary documents, present yourself to the local Civil Administration Department, and obtain the civil letters and certificates you’ll need to live in Indonesia.