Rules to be relaxed on RI citizenship

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The House of Representatives and the government have agreed to ease procedures for people from other countries in acquiring Indonesian citizenship or permanent resident status.

The decision was made during the deliberation of the citizenship bill recently, legislator Boy. W. Saul of the Democrat Party said Friday.

"basically, we agreed to ease the procedures for foreigners, who believe they are entitled to Indonesian citizenship or permanent resident status," he told reporters.

The move is expected to boost foreign investment to Indonesia, the legislator said.

Legislator Bomer Pasaribu of the Golkar Party said that the people affected by the regulation would be "those who can improve the country such as researchers or investors".

"To get Indonesian citizenship, they are required to have permanent resident status first -- just like other countries," he claimed.

The permanent resident status will be regulated in detail by the government, possibly with a presidential decree, according to Bomer. It will also be stipulated in the bill on immigration, which is due for deliberation later.

Foreigners, who are married to Indonesians, can be "given a chance" to get the status regardless of gender, he added.

The existing law does not allow Indonesian women to sponsor a non-Indonesian husband for permanent resident status. At present, foreigners can only be sponsored by companies that employ them here.

Permanent resident status only lasts for five years and is subject to extension.

Non-Indonesians can only apply for permanent resident status five years after they are given a limited stay permit.

Justice Minister Hamid Awaluddin has said that the government had made a "breakthrough" for foreign residents, so they could enter and stay in the country. He added that it was done in a bid to woo investors.

The country's citizenship law -- created nearly five decades ago -- has several articles are today seen as discriminatory toward Indonesian women and their husbands and children, in the case of a local woman marrying a non-Indonesian.

The committee also agreed upon "limited dual citizenship" for children of couples with different nationalities, as well as for children of Indonesian couples born in countries that apply the principle of ius soli ("right of the soil").

Countries that apply ius soli, such as the United States, automatically give citizenship to any baby born in the country.

Indonesia applies a limited form of the principle of ius sanguinis ("right of the blood"), however, Indonesian law only recognizes the father's nationality, not the mother's, as other countries with the same principle adhere to.
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