Ministers in Indonesia have confirmed that the process of creating a 5-10 year digital nomad visa is underway. While recently, Tourism Minster Sandiaga Uno confirmed that the B211a socio-cultural visa is a legitimate way for digital nomads to reside in Indonesia in leading destinations like Bali, Lombok, and the Gili Islands, remote workers were left wondering about the long-term plan.
The Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, told audiences at the Nusa Dua Convention Center late last week that the visa development is full steam ahead. He said, ‘Last night, I reported to Mr. President Joko Widodo, next week I will ask for a timetable. We will simplify the Immigration visa program so that for people with qualifications in certain fields, we can give them 5-10 years visa’.
He did not confirm which sectors and qualifications would be needed to be granted a 5-10 year visa, but it is welcome news for many that more options will become available for long-term stays in Bali.
The 5-10 year visa will likely be first targeted at those who fulfill remote roles in the finance and tech sector since these are areas where Indonesia has committed to sourcing investment and leveling up. There was no speculation about a minimum income requirement or whether those on this new visa would have to pay tax locally.
There is certainly demand for a longer-term digital nomad visa. While the B211a visa allows digital nomads and social and cultural visitors to reside in Indonesia for up to 6 months at a time, thousands of remote workers are eager to move to Bali for a longer term.
Minister Pandjaitan also confirmed that the new 5-10 year visa would be available for citizens over the age of 60, retired, or still working. He stated that this sector of the travel market is worth over USD 1.5 trillion. He explained how global citizens looking to retire or enjoy their later years in a country other than their own have the potential to spend much more in countries like Indonesia, which would support economic growth and development.
During his speech, he also spoke of how Indonesia must continue to develop and promote domestic products. He explained, ‘I view that the PDN [domestic product] affirmation movement that we are doing is an extraordinary breakthrough, digitalization innovation, and shopping consolidation through e-catalogs have supported spending efficiency, reducing corruption and transaction costs’.
Minister for Tourism and the Creative Economy told reporters last week that he wants to see an improvement in the ‘quality’ of tourist arriving in Bali and their length of stay. He likened the shift towards more sustainable and higher-quality tourism to the model used by Bhutan. Noted to be the happiest country on earth, Bhutan’s unique tourism model allows authorities to regulate the industry heavily.
The want for tourists and longer-term international residents is certainly building within the Indonesian government. Some international residents currently living in Indonesia are frustrated that the changes are coming after they have had to go through the rigmarole of applying for KITAS, KITAP, and other long-term visas that are hard to acquire and come with strict limitations about work.
That said, the renewed focus on digital nomad visas, long-term visas for the over 60s, and the confirmation that remote workers can use the B211a visa is all a positive step forward. It could lead to greater flexibility for other visa categories or simply more options to suit a broader range of people and circumstances.
Minster Pandjaitan did not give a prospective date for the launch of the 5-10 year visa, so in the meantime, digital nomads can continue to use the B211a. Work has been underway on the new 5-10 year visa since the beginning of the year, and the progress report from Minster Pandjaitan was well received. It was confirmed that President Joko Widodo is pushing for the development of the visa to continue and that he wants to see the launch of the visa sooner rather than later.
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