Shake up of Bali visa rules and $200,000 bond may see expat exodus

Expats in Indonesia and Bali could have their retirement plans affected by the visa shake up. Photo / Steve Brookland, Getty Images

The Island of the Gods has become a popular place for Australians and Kiwis to retire overseas. Now it could cost them $200,000.

Now, expatriates and retired foreign nationals in Bali are facing a fundamental change in visas that could see many of them leave.

Indonesia is revising its temporary residence visa for retirees – the KITAS – requiring elderly expatriates to prove they have either $200,000 in property or an Indonesian bank to stay in the country.


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Many foreign nationals currently visiting Bali on investment and retirement visas say they are in no position to pay.

Although this week officials in Bali tried to reassure tourists that a ban on extramarital sex does not apply to international visitors, expats in Indonesia are worried about a shake-up of visa laws.

“Obviously very few people have these funds,” says Matt, a New Zealand expat who has lived in Bali for the past two decades.

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He expects that areas that have become popular with retirees such as Sanur will suffer as foreign nationals make the decision to relocate.


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“These people usually bring their money and investments to other Southeast Asian countries,” he says.

Many long-term residents are considering relocating to Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. A foreigner from Germany, who did not want to be named, says that even those who can afford the “bond deposit” do not feel comfortable keeping this kind of money locked up in an Indonesian bank for up to 10 years, without the status of a permanent resident.

“I can’t change my retirement visa to a second home visa. I don’t have that amount of money. And if I did, I wouldn’t put it in a bank where I can’t touch it anymore,” expat “Frank” told the local English language news site Coconuts Bali.

The new second home visa requirements were announced in October by Indonesia’s Directorate General of Immigration.

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Revealed ahead of the G20 summit hosted by Bali’s luxurious Nusa Dua resort, the new visas were said to link Indonesia’s vision for high-value tourism and investment on the island.


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“This immigration policy is one of the non-tax incentives that can be a stimulus for some foreigners to stay and contribute positively to the Indonesian economy, under increasingly dynamic global economic conditions,” said Director General Widodo Ekatjahjana at the time.

The changes should come into effect on December 24.

Indonesia invites remote workers to luxuriate in Bali's lifestyle.  Photo/Getty Images
Indonesia invites remote workers to luxuriate in Bali’s lifestyle. Photo/Getty Images

End of the road for visa runners

Another drastic change for foreign nationals and remote workers based in Bali is the possible addition of a cooling off period between business and “social” visas.

While the country has announced its intention to launch new visa types – such as a tax-free “digital nomad visa” that allows expats to stay for up to five years – existing visas and agreements are being revised.

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In June, Tourism Minister Sandigaga Uno said that Indonesia’s post-pandemic reopening was “an opportunity to restart this idea,” and that new visa classes would help bring back the island’s 3.6 million foreign travelers.

The B211A is used by many foreign visitors on longer visits to support remote work for up to 180 days at a time.


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It is automatically awarded to many visitors but cannot be applied in Indonesia. This has resulted in many visitors exploiting a loophole to apply for multiple, back-to-back visas by doing “visa runs” in nearby Malaysia or Singapore.

Now Indonesia is looking at introducing a three-week cooling off period before applying for a new e-Visa, apparently to crack down on this practice.

While he can understand why it would happen, Matt says that if this happens, it would drastically change the outlook for the expatriate scene in Bali.

“I see both good and bad things about it, but it’s going to affect a lot of people.”


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