New Indonesian Visa: Would You Stay in Bali for 5 Years?
Bali, unofficially the mecca for digital nomads, is onto an uncertain path going forward. The Indonesian Tourism Minister, Sandiaga Salahudin Uno, announced on August 2, 2021 that the government is working on offering a 5-year second home or long-term visa.
The program will be implemented in Bali, Batam, Bintan, several areas within the Asean Travel Corridor Framework, and other destinations popular among foreigners.
Plenty of new digital nomads start their journeys in places like Bali, and many seasoned nomads continue to come back. Bali is known for its beautiful scenery, affordable cost of living, and most importantly, an entire industry of businesses catering to the digital nomad community.
With amenities ranging from coworking spaces with speedy internet access to cafes serving avocado toasts, it is no wonder that Bali has been one of the most popular destinations for digital nomads.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on Bali’s hospitality industry and local economy. Once the damages of the pandemic are mitigated, the country will increase its efforts to restore tourist activities while paying closer attention to the type of visitors it attracts going forward.
Currently Available Visa Options
There are currently several ways to stay in Indonesia. Depending on what passport you carry, you can typically stay between 30-60 days without a visa or with a tourist visa. However, once the 60 days have passed, the stay will not be extendable.
On the next level, there is the social-cultural visa, which offers a 60-day stay plus four additional 30-day extensions; under this visa, one can stay in the country for up to 180 days. This visa requires more documentation and a sponsor letter, thus many digital nomads prefer to simply re-enter the country without the visa after a reasonable period of time abroad.
You see all the visa options available at https://visadb.io
The 5-Year Visa
Introducing the 5-year visa:
Plans for this new visa reveals the government’s intention to focus on a different population of visitors -- one that is more affluent and committed to stay for the long term.
Unlike the tourist visa and the social-cultural visa, the 5-year visa caters to a population that intends to either settle down or have a second home where they will visit for 3-5 months each year. The program also differs from retirement visas offered in other countries, since holders will be able to work in Indonesia under this visa.
The new visa also targets applicants with some level of financial stability, requiring applicants to make a bank deposit of 2 billion IRD ($142,300 USD) per individual or 2.5 billion IRD ($178,000 USD) for the whole family.
An Uncertain Future for Nomads in Bali
Although the idea of staying in Bali for five years may be appealing, the majority of digital nomads will not be able to meet the financial obligation under this visa. Even those who can afford it expressed concern over whether the money will be invested, and in what.
Existing visas will still be available, but the Indonesian government’s decision still revealed the path it will take for tourism going forward. The digital nomad community responded to the upcoming visa with mixed feelings.
Some believe Bali should rightfully raise the standard for visitors it attracts, screening out those who take advantage of their foreigner status to live carelessly and, from time to time, disrespectfully -- also known as “the nomads who ruin it for the rest of us”. More nomads who are committed to staying long-term and contributing to the local community deserve to be in places like Bali.
Others believe that Bali is already overrated, and the tightening of regulations will only discourage visitors to stay. Digital nomads are, by definition, people who do not like to stay in the same place for an extended period of time. Why would they put up a large deposit to give up flexibility to travel?
Furthermore, neighboring countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam are all offering better travel terms, and there is no way Indonesia will be able to economically recover from the pandemic if they decide to pursue a route that could drive away tourists.
The primary goal of this 5-year visa is to encourage foreigners to stay in Bali for a long period of time. While most digital nomads will not choose to enter Indonesia through this visa, many are sensing Indonesia’s attempt to screen its visitors more diligently. Only time will tell the real effects this visa has on Bali’s tourism.
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