What is the change? Indonesian immigration and labor authorities continue to offer conflicting advice on the use of visas on arrival for business visits.

What does the change mean? While the Indonesian immigration authorities at various consular posts will advise using the visa on arrival for a business trip, authorities at the border may deny entry and labor authorities may levy fines for conducting business with an inappropriate visa.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Who is affected: Business travelers using visas on arrival.
  • Business impact: If denied entry, business travelers may miss meetings or seminars and waste travel costs. If labor authorities impose fines, the company will incur the costs of the penalties and related legal support.
  • Next steps: Companies should plan for their business travelers to obtain business visas in advance when visiting Indonesia and review their travel policies to be sure they are compliant.

Background: Since Indonesian authorities have stepped up enforcement activities over the past few years, BAL has noticed an increase in the number of business travelers experiencing problems with Indonesian immigration or labor authorities when using visas on arrival.

Some Indonesian embassies advise on their web pages that the visa on arrival may be used for business visits. However, immigration authorities at the border may deny entry when the purpose of the visit is business-related, and authorities in the Immigration Department have stated that visas on arrival are intended for tourist use only. Also, labor authorities in Indonesia continue to crack down on foreign nationals working without authorization and will fine and sometimes detain foreign business visitors for conducting business activities without holding a business visa.

An additional consideration is that because the visa on arrival is not directly sponsored by an Indonesian company, employers and their business partners in Indonesia will not have the standing with authorities to act on behalf of the foreign national. This can hamper efforts to help in an emergency, especially when the foreign national has been detained.

BAL Analysis: The conflicting information offered by the immigration and labor authorities has caused confusion regarding whether the visa on arrival can be used for business visits. In the current heightened enforcement environment, BAL recommends always using an appropriate business visa when traveling to Indonesia for business.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network partner in Indonesia. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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