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Retired Expats In Bali Publish Open Letter Raising Concerns Over Changes To Visa System

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Wednesday, 21st December, marks the launch of Indonesia’s new second home visa. The new visa category was announced by Acting Director General for Immigration, Widodo Ekatjahjana, in late October, who confirmed that the final details were being put into motion. While the development received plenty of positive feedback, many international residents living in Bali raised concerns that proof of funds required to apply for the visa would cause havoc with their retirement plans. Bali residents have also voiced their fears that the visa could lead to overdevelopment in tourism hotspots across the island. 

Retired Couple Walk Along Bali Beach

Now, expatriated retirees living across Indonesia, many in Bali, have written an open letter to the Department of Immigration and Central Government to ask them to re-evaluate the implications the new policy could have on people already living out their retirement in Bali. In the letter published on Indonesia Expat, the group raised the heartfelt point that “Indonesia isn’t our second home. It’s our first and only home”. 

Transitioning from the current retirement visa options to the second home visa puts many existing and prospective retirees in a quandary. Many of the concerned retirees who put their contributions into the letter have already fully invested in living in Indonesia for the rest of their lives. Some contributors shared they have no other home to go to, having sold assets in their native country to invest in building a life in Bali. 

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For a considerable number of those affected, Indonesia has already been their only home for well over 20 years. Examples range from people who ran businesses in Indonesia or worked as teachers all across the country. While others have visited multiple times a year for the last three decades before moving over full-time. Many retirees feel they have little meaningful connection to the place they were born, having built their adult life, family, and community in Indonesia.

There is a feeling that many of those affected by the change are living on carefully calculated budgets informed by the sureties that a retirement KITAS or KITAP provides. 

Couple In Bali At Traditional Ceremony

The second home visa has been touted as a way to boost investment and development in Indonesia, yet, those affected have shared how this move feels counterintuitive for a huge number of people who have already invested their life savings into the country.

Suggesting that the key criteria to invest in Indonesia have been met, but now the parameters have changed. Since those impacted are in their retirement, they cannot rejoin the workforce or generate more funds. Moving back to the country where they were born, like Australia or the U.S., would be incredibly difficult. 

Village-In-Rural-Area-In-Bali

The sticking point highlighted in the open letter is that a new second home visa requires that applicants transfer IDR 2 billion (USD 130,000) into a state-owned bank account. These funds must stay untouched in the account for the duration of the visa stay, which is just five or ten years, depending on the application. 

Those behind the letter state that if the visa policy remains as it is, they will have no other option than to withdraw their current investments in Indonesia and desperately search for another place to live. Not only would this put them under incredible financial pressure and a huge amount of stress, but it would also drastically impact the communities they support. 

Local-Community-Village-Market-In-Nusa-Penida-Bali

Contributors to the open letter shared, “we will lose our beloved staff, our community of Indonesian friends, and the many projects we’ve supported over the years. Some of us have Indonesian foster children and extended families. Many have plans to lease land long-term, build houses, and travel domestically, but all of these will depend on what happens with the visa categories.”

Speaking at the press conference launching the second home visa in October, Ekatjahjana told reporters, “the target of this policy is foreign tourists who have money to enjoy their old age coming to Bali and other destinations in Indonesia. This is a stimulant policy given by immigration in the midst of economic recovery and a dynamic global economy”. While the visa is also a targeted effort to bring in high-wealth investors and entrepreneurs, at its core, it seemed that the second home visa was intended to support retirees. 

Traditional-Style-Bali-Shala-And-Swimming-Pool-At-Villa

The spokesperson for the Directorate General of Immigration, Wachid Kuntjoro Djati, told reporters that the teams behind the new visa policy had made decisions based on having the most positive impact on the tourism sector. 

The new visa officially opened for applications on Wednesday, 21st December. In a statement to the press, the Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly said, “through the Directorate General of Immigration [we] will provide new facilities for global investors who want to stay longer in Indonesia i.e. Visa and Second Home Residence Permit or second home visa.”

“This policy is backed by the phenomenon of foreign migration to Indonesia with various purposes and activities, one of them is to live in Indonesia because of the natural charm and friendly weather compared to the country of origin already. In addition, because geographically and potential natural resources and economic resources that Indonesia has so [foreigners] can develop business and investments here”. 

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Nigel

Tuesday 27th of December 2022

I have been supporting locals and local businesses in Indonesia for many years, if I have to give $200,000 Australian dollars that would all end.

Steven

Friday 23rd of December 2022

Indonesia has some very good interest saving accounts available. Change the goverment, untouched requirement and this visa could be very tempting to a lot of people.

Randy

Saturday 24th of December 2022

@Steven, that's true but big mouth @firechef may not think so. Lol

BaliDuck

Friday 23rd of December 2022

Quote: “The sticking point highlighted in the open letter is that a new second home visa requires that applicants transfer IDR 2 billion (USD 130,000) into a state-owned bank account. These funds must stay untouched in the account for the duration of the visa stay, which is just five or ten years, depending on the application.”

Just remember that a lot of foreigners get into trouble in Bali every year. What will happen to the money then?

Randy

Thursday 22nd of December 2022

Quote: "The sticking point highlighted in the open letter is that a new second home visa requires that applicants transfer IDR 2 billion (USD 130,000) into a state-owned bank account. These funds must stay untouched in the account for the duration of the visa stay, which is just five or ten years, depending on the application."

It should remain in the original account abroad and show a notarized statement for the application. It can be tapped for emergency use such as medical or local investment needed. Transferring such an amount is a big risk to take unless you have other funds available to use.

Quote: "Some contributors shared they have no other home to go to, having sold assets in their native country to invest in building a life in Bali." I would not put all my eggs in one basket. That's just me!!

Randy

Sunday 25th of December 2022

@Firechef, sounds like you are an old hypocritical middle age crisis person. Why marry an Indonesian woman just to use her name on a title deed?? If so then I feel terribly sorry for your wife.

Firechef

Saturday 24th of December 2022

@Randy, I don't think anybody is stupid enough to trust an Indonesian State Bank with their $130.000 for 5 or 10 years without interest. Many other countries in the world as nice or nicer than Bali/Indonesia and cheaper living with much better and cheaper health care. If I didn't have property and a wife on Bali I'd be moving to San Jose or a beach town in Costa Rica. Been there and beats Bali all to hell.

Jwest

Thursday 22nd of December 2022

This visa is already popular among the well heeled, not intended to keep a few flip flop hippies in the ‘stone zone’ for the rest of their lives. Malaysia has done the same thing with its MMSH visa and kicked out the ‘dead wood’. They now expect to see proof of income of USD $12.000 per month and believe it or not the new program is fully subscribed. It turns out there’s a lot of wealthy people retiring. These programs are after all an economic driver, not in place to shelter those only slightly better off than the local population. In short, these countries want money from tourism, period. Rich people are economic generators, ex-hippies on a tight budget are not and it’s the economic spin offs the rich will bring that’s wanted and important. Sad but true but the ‘maid and gardener ‘ can ask for a hefty raise and the new resident rich retirees won’t bat an eyelash. Restaurants can double the prices and still sell out seats for rubber chicken and crappy Nasi Goreng. Likely the ‘staff’ won’t remember your name when you ( the ex poor and gone) disappear.

Rex

Friday 23rd of December 2022

@Jwest, Are you a wanna be writer, maybe a member of the Ubud writers club?

Firechef

Friday 23rd of December 2022

@Jwest, Dream on! $12.000 per month income and want to live in a 3rd world country??? Not gonna happen. Nobody is stupid enough to do that.