visa-indonesiaIt’s getting to that annoying time of year when I get a load of bills at once – all my domains are up for renewal, my health insurance expires and of course, I have to get a new visa to stay in Indonesia.

Like many longterm expats in Bali, I’m staying on a KITAS visa. This allows me to stay for one year without having to visit immigration every month like the 6-month sosbud visa. A KITAS is normally a working visa but I have the “ikut suami” or spouse-sponsored version which means I’m not allowed to work as my husband is supposedly supporting me.  A big HA to that!

Anyway like many things in this country, applying for visas is rife with corruption. I choose to get my KITAS through a local agent as they make it so difficult for people who try to do it themselves that it’s just not worth the hassle. The official price of a KITAS is 700,000rp but going through an agent you’re going to be paying 3-4 million. For that fee the agent sorts out all the paperwork for you, deals with (and bribes) all the officials and generally makes everything easier. If you don’t know of any local agencies or you want to plan ahead there are a number of online alternatives you can use.

I’ve seen people crying in frustration at immigration because they’ve tried to apply for their visa on their own. It should be a simple task but they make it as hard as possible, calling you back to sign another bit of paper several times and making you wait for hours to get your passport or fingerprints taken (with an agent you’re straight to the front of the queue).

I’ve been more than happy to pay for the convenience and lack of stress. However this year I really wanted to apply for a KITAP. A KITAP is a semi-permanent residence visa, valid for 5 years to anyone who’s been living in the country for at least 5 years. I was actually eligible for this visa years ago as they changed the law so that people married to Indonesians would only have to wait 2 years but what’s law and what Bali immigration will let you do are two different things.

I called my agent to ask him his price for arranging a KITAP – TWENTY FIVE MILLION RUPIAH!!! or about 2k USD. This is just pure insanity, especially considering the official price of a KITAP is about 3 million. I could try and go down the road of applying for it on my own but to be honest, i really don’t think i have the mental energy. Think i’m just going to suck it up and pay my agent for another KITAS.

Things like this get really annoying about living in Bali. Everything can be arranged – for a price. The laws surrounding immigration and mixed marriages are highly frustrating. Not that the UK is much better in this regard at the moment but I really think they should make things easier for those who are married to Indonesians. Letting me (or at least my husband) own land and allowing our kids to have dual citizenship would be a good start.

Improvements are happening slowly so I’m hoping by hanging on, it will be a lot easier for me to get my visa  a couple of years down the line. Maybe they’ll even invent a proper lifetime visa without having to give up my British citizenship. Wishful thinking? Sigh…