12/21/2022, 17.04
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To attract rich retirees, Jakarta is introducing new visa rules starting this Christmas

Foreigners will be able to get for a residency permit for up to 10 years after paying two billion rupees into a state bank. But some retirees who have lived in Bali for decades and put money into the local economy risk having to leave. Malaysia and Thailand have similar legislation.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – New rules will come into effect on 25 December for foreign residents who wish to live in Indonesia.

Residency applicants will now be required to deposit at least two billion rupiah (US$ 128,000) in their personal accounts in a state-owned Indonesian bank or show proof of ownership of a luxury property. In exchange, they will get a residency permit of up to 10 years.

With these new rules, the Indonesian government wants to attract high-net-worth millionaires and very wealthy seniors; however, it risks forcing out foreign retirees who have already invested in the country and built second homes, especially in Bali, if their bank accounts do not meet the new requirements.

In Bali, dubbed the “island of the gods”, resident foreign retirees have kept the local economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the ban on foreign tourists.

In South-East Asia, many countries have adopted similar legislation. In Malaysia, the My Second Home programme allows foreigners to stay for 10 years, provided they earn RM40,000 (US$ 9,000) per month and pay a RM1 million (is$ 225,000) into a local bank account.

Thailand allows foreigners to stay up to 20 years (complete with airport transport and health check-ups) for one million baht per year (US$ 29,000).

Under Indonesia’s old rules, foreigners over 55 who could stay in the country from one to five years on a one-year retirement visa of a thousand dollars. Holders of this visa will now have until mid-2023 to comply with the new legislation.

Local authorities have reported that they are waiting for instructions from Jakarta to know what to do with those people who do not have the financial means to stay in the country.

The government instructions also do not specify the value of luxury properties, which can be estimated differently in Bali from the Indonesian capital.

Many established foreign residents are unhappy with the government's decision. Over the years, they had invested in the country and created jobs for locals, like gardeners, drivers and nannies.

“Balinese go out of their way to make people feel welcome,” said one US retiree (who did not give his name), speaking to The Straits Times.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he and his wife went back to the States, but they paid 80 million rupiah to renew the lease on their villa to help cushion the blow to their landlord.

“Many of us have been here for 10, 20, 30 years, or more. We have invested in long land leases and built or leased houses with the expectation that we would live out our lives here,” said a woman, who also chose not to give her name.

“We can’t afford to return to our home countries and most do not have the required 2 billion rupiah to park in a bank here,” she added.

“I think in the quest to attract wealthy retirees to Bali, the government has not considered the thousands of modest retirees who already live here.”

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