Money talks for smooth processing of work, stay permits

Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Stop by Floor M of the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry on Jl. Gatot Subroto in South Jakarta to witness a finely honed bureaucratic process in full working order.

The unsuspecting would be surprised to find a crowded hall, resembling the bustle of a traditional market, with long lines of people at cubicles for the processing of expatriate work permits.

It's organized chaos operating according to its own discreet culture, governed by a tacitly understood process of transactions where money but few words are needed.

Most companies who employ expatriates choose to hire agents to navigate the complicated and potentially time-consuming ins and outs of the process.

On a recent afternoon, an agent, accompanied by his Italian client, went from desk to desk to secure five preliminary documents before an expatriate employment permit (IMTA) was furnished.

No additional bargaining was needed, because the agent knew the amount needed, including the extras presented for satisfactory service.

The approval for the expatriate employment plan (RPTKA) -- defining the role of the expatriate within the institution -- costs Rp 150,000 (about US$18), and the IMTA was issued after the officer in charge was presented with an envelope containing Rp 200,000.

It took two weeks, and a total of Rp 1.2 million for the various payments, to secure the two essential documents.

With little supervision and clear overstaffing in the department, many of the employees are available to offer additional help to facilitate the visa processing (the discovery of fake IMTA documents, with falsified receipts for the payment of funds for development, is being investigated by the ministry).

The securing of the work permit is one thing; an expatriate also needs permission to reside here.

The same Italian expatriate paid Rp 800,000 for a temporary stay permit at the South Jakarta immigration office, with the funds used to confirm the expatriate's arrival documentation, pay for the telex to inform the Indonesian Embassy in Rome of the issuance of his permit, to purchase the "blue book", which documents changes in the holder's immigration status, and also to apply for a temporary stay permit (KITAS).

It's possible to get the latter two documents within a few days, depending on the agent's clout and the "recreation" money paid to immigration officers. Expatriates are allowed to apply for a permanent stay permit (KITAP) after using a Kitas for an uninterrupted five-year period (formerly 10 years). A Kitap costs, with benefits including the right to hold a residence card, costs between Rp 50 million and Rp 100 million.

It took another three months, an additional Rp 3.5 million, for the Italian to secure the KITAS.

Bureaucratic procedures become even more complicated when expatriates extend their KITAS and IMTA, with recommendations needed from the local population office, the National Police Headquarters and the National Intelligence Agency.

"Rachel", an expatriate who has tried to process her own visa, says it has proven time-consuming and costly.

"They will tell you that you need this document, or another one, and to come back another day," she said. "I'm also pretty much at their mercy, because I don't want to and really can't pay extras, so they tell me to bring in presents for them instead."

Document.....Issuer.....Length of process.....Unofficial rate

1. Mandatory report...Population Office...2 days...Rp 200,000
2. RPTKA......Manpower Ministry...7 days...Rp 150,000
3. TA-01......Manpower Ministry...3 days...Rp 75,000
4. Telex......Immigration Office...7 days...Rp 300,000 + US$100
5. Arrival card...Immigration Office...1 day...Rp 100,000
6. Fingerprinting...Immigration Office...1 day...Rp 100,000
7. POA*.......Police Headquarters...1 day...Rp 50,000
8. Blue book...Immigration Office...3 days...Rp 200,000
9. KITAS......Immigration Office...3 days...Rp 200,000
10. Reentry permit...Immigration Office...1 day...Rp 100,000
11. DPKK*.....Manpower Ministry...1 day...US$1,200
12. IMTA......Immigration Office...3 weeks...Rp 150,000
13. SKPPS*....local population office...1 day...Rp 35,000
14. SKTT*.....Population Office...1 day...Rp 50,000
15. STM*......Police Station...1 day...Rp 25,000
15. SKLD*.....Police Headquarters...1 day...Rp 75,000

* POA: Monitoring of foreigners
* SKPPS: Recommendation for temporary resident
* SKTT: Recommendation for expatriate resident
* STM: Letter of registration with local police station
* SKLD: Letter of registration with National Police Headquarters Various sources
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