Obtaining a visa extension in Bali is not difficult, but at present, it is fairly time consuming. There are plenty of agents who can do the majority of the waiting around and leg-work for you; however they will charge you a fee and this will be in addition to the cost of the visa. We felt that working through this process was part of the adventure and it was important to do it ourselves.
As of March 2015 a visa extension application involves 3 visits to the Indonesian embassy in Bali:
- The first visit involves completing the correct paperwork and submitting your application.
- A second visit 3-7 days later, to pay the visa fee and to have a photo and biometric measurements taken.
- A third visit the day after having your photo taken, to to collect the stamped passport.
The Indonesian immigration building is not difficult to find and there is ample parking on site for motorbikes and cars (for a small fee). The application submission department is currently open Monday to Thursdays 8am-12pm and 1-2pm; and Fridays 9am-12pm.
On entering the visa part of the building, it is split into two sections: foreigners go to the right and Indonesian nationals to the left. They operate a ticket queueing system and it is well organised in this respect.
Visit 1: Submitting your application
After collecting your ticket number in the foyer for the ‘Visa Application’ department, you will be seen by one of the immigration officers and given a red file with forms to complete inside. There is a bench area in the foyer to stand and complete forms, but there is only 1 pen available to use and LOTS of people vying to use it, so I would recommend bringing your own stationery!
The first part of the application form is easy to complete – the usual stuff such as name, date of birth, passport number, occupation, address of employer, etc. You then need to put the full address of where you are staying in Bali. There is also a compulsory section to complete which requires the details of an Indonesian or Balinese ‘reference’ and you need to record their personal information. You will need to know their full name, address, phone number and email address. No financial information is required about the referee and they do not have to act as guarantor or pay anything. We were able to use the details of our host family here in Bali. I guess you could also use your employer, if planning to work on the island or a landlord’s details for this; or I suppose this is where an agent can come in handy, because they would include this as part of their service.
Another part of the form asks you to provide the name of family abroad. This section refers to an emergency contact / next of kin back in your home country.
Finally, you are asked to specify your reasons for extending your stay in Indonesia, beyond the initial 30-day visa on arrival. We stated that we planned to stay for tourism purposes, to further explore the island of Bali.
- Your passport.
- 1 recent passport-sized photograph.
- A photocopy of the photo page inside your passport AND the page of your original Indonesian visa stamp (they requested for these to be on the same photocopied piece of paper).
- A copy of your confirmed exit flight details.
There is a photocopying department within the embassy which will copy any documents for you for a small fee.
We then had to return to the immigration officer to submit our applications.
Now this is where we got caught up in a bit of Indonesian bureaucracy, which was a bit frustrating…
We initially arrived at the embassy at around 10.30am. To complete the application forms and to get the paperwork in order for our family of 4, it took about 30 minutes. In between all this, there were several short waits for various queues (collecting the initial forms, the photocopier, etc). By the time we got to see the immigration officer to officially submit our applications, it was 11.56am. He looked through our red files and rifled through the paperwork inside each one. Then, at 12.01pm he got up from his chair, explained that it was his break time and that we would have to return at 1pm for the application process to be completed. The immigration department completely closes at 12pm for a 1-hour lunch break. You can continue to wait in the air-conditioned waiting room; or if you need some lunch too, there is a small warung (cafe) on-site and various other local places within a 2-minute motorbike ride too.
We wondered what would happen on our return at 1pm. Would we be interviewed? Would we have our photos taken? Would our forms be looked at in more detail and might we possibly be questioned about some of the information given? We weren’t sure.
The officer finally returned from his break at 1.20pm. We pensively asked him what else was needed in order for our applications to be accepted. It was then that he simply ticked and stamped a receipt, handed it to us, and told us to come back in 7 days time to pay our fee and have our photos taken and biometric information recorded. We had waited over an hour for this receipt, which took less that 2 minutes to be stamped, all because the clock had turned 12pm whilst we were submitting our application! Crazy! I only wished our lunch breaks worked like that in the NHS!
Visit 2: Payment and photos
On the return visit, you initially attend the payment kiosk in the entrance foyer of the department, presenting your application receipt. As of March 2015, we paid 350,000IR (£18/US$27) per person for our visa extension. There was no discount for the children. The fee has to be paid in cash, ideally in local currency. You are then presented with a stamped receipt and told to give this in to kiosk 3 (no number system required for this bit, you just go straight up to the kiosk and hand it over).
Then you go and sit and wait for your photograph to be taken. It was pretty busy and we waited 40 minutes to be called through. Luckily the department is air-conditioned and there is water available and a TV showing ‘Just for Laughs’, a hidden camera joke scenario show, which amused the kids whilst they waited.
Once seen, your photo and finger prints are taken and added to your e-record. I would like to say that they also question you about your favourite colour, preferred ice-cream flavour and your first pet’s name, but they don’t. They do ask you to confirm the full address of where you are staying in Bali though.
After this, you are finished and simply have to return the following day to collect your stamped passport.
Visit 3: Collecting your passport
The collection department (in the same place as before) is open 2-4pm. For this final visit, you simply present your receipt again at Kiosk 3 and then sit and wait for your passport, complete with extended visa, to be returned to you. This process took less than 10 minutes.
I’m not quite sure why it took 3 visits to get our visa arranged. There are signs up apologising for the inconvenience, stating that the e-system in Jakarta is currently being upgraded and this is causing delays. However, surely it would still be better to have 1 attendance at the embassy, even if it takes a long time, rather than all the too-ing and fro-ing? In the 9 days it took to have our visa application processed and passports returned, our original 30-day visa on arrival expired. We really hoped that we would not be fined for the overstay during this waiting period! (We weren’t!)
Later at home, when proudly studying our passports with the new visa stamps, we noticed that 3 of our passports were stamped with the additional 30-day visa, ending in April 2015. However, our 10-year old son Ruben was for some reason given a 60-day extension, so he doesn’t have to leave Bali until the end of May 2015. So folks, do we leave him behind to enjoy the additional benefits of another 30-day’s worth of Indonesian hospitality; giving him some independence from the family unit and further building on his life skills (surviving alone as a child in a foreign land)? Or do we bring him with us as planned, when we travel onto our next destination – Vietnam?
Answers on a postcard please!