Indonesia’s Directorate General of Immigration recently announced a new policy of automatically extending stay permits for eligible foreigners who are unable to return to their home countries amid the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
It should be noted that the new policy, announced through the Directorate General’s social media pages last night, is only valid for foreigners who entered Indonesia after Feb. 5, 2020.
Applicants who fulfill the criteria do not have to apply for the extension in person and will not be subject to any fines. In addition, the emergency stay permit is also free of charge.
In prevention of COVID-19 outbreak, visiting the immigration office is not recommended due to recent situation. Foreigners’ Emergency Stay Permits will be automatically recorded on our system.
— DitJen Imigrasi (@ditjen_imigrasi) March 23, 2020
“In prevention of COVID-19 outbreak, visiting the immigration office is not recommended due to [the] recent situation,” the tweet posted on their official account reads.
”Foreigners’ Emergency Stay Permits will be automatically recorded on our system.”
The policy comes after immigration offices across Bali were reportedly packed with foreign nationals seeking to extend their visas just yesterday. With the automatic extension, it appears that officials are trying to limit close contact as much as possible, in accordance with the ongoing social distancing advisory across the country.
Foreigners urged to return home
At this point, with over 381,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, countries have moved to advise their citizens to avoid non-essential travel and call upon the return for those who are still abroad.
More recent travel advisories for Indonesia have come from a few countries, including Australia and the United Kingdom, who recommend their respective citizens to return home “as soon as possible” while citing increasingly limited flight options following travel restrictions around the globe.
“If you’re in Indonesia, and wish to return to Australia, we recommend you do so as soon as possible,” the Australian government said on its Smartraveller website.
The British government has urged all UK travelers to return home, while noting the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, and warns that “the healthcare system will come under significant further strain.”
“The standard of local medical care in Indonesia can be poor and some medical tests cannot be done reliably,” the British government wrote on their official travel advice for the country, highlighting that a British national had died of the viral disease on March 11 in Bali.
Indonesia’s current travel restrictions for incoming travelers include a suspension of all visa waiver programs, as well as restrictions on travelers coming from a number of countries, such as China, Italy, Spain and the UK.