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Citizenship Law Needs Further Publication

The revolutionary new citizenship law, passed in 2006, has brought new hope to transnational couples, but the public needs more information to be able to take full advantage of it. Cecep Supriyatna from the directorate general of immigration’s public relations division said his office had received many complaints from the public about a lack of information on the law. But he said the government and public was responsible for making sure the contents of the law were widely publicized.

“Many transnational couples have complained about not getting good services from us, but we have to tell them that the regulation is also new for us and we’re still in a transitional position,” Cecep told The Jakarta Post.

Transnational couples have warmly welcomed the law as it allows a child of a mixed-nationality marriage to have dual citizenship until the age of 18.

The child will then be given three years to decide which nationality he or she wishes to retain.

Previously, Indonesian women could not pass on their nationality to their children.

Cecep said both government officials and transnational couples were not yet used to the new regulation and further communication efforts were needed.

“In many cases, Indonesian women (who are married to expatriates) still have no clue about how to apply for Indonesian citizenship for their children, despite the fact they can get the answer easily by checking our website,” Cecep said during a discussion on immigration issues.

KPC Melati, an association for Indonesian wives of foreign nationals, held the discussion to improve their members’ understanding of the new law.

Cecep said the public could access information from website www.imigrasi.go.id, and if they had questions, they could simply send an e-mail, which would be replied to as soon as possible.
The discussion also revealed many Indonesian wives still had little understanding on how to obtain a residential permit for their foreign husbands and were confused about different types of visas and permits.

Many of them also did not know the government allowed them to sponsor their spouses to live in Indonesia.

Harry Marsono, head of the residential permit and immigration status directorate, said it was possible now for Indonesian wives to sponsor their foreign husbands.

“You’ll have to apply for that at the Manpower Ministry, which will then give you a recommendation letter,” he said.

In some cases, many Indonesian wives also did not know their husbands were obliged to pay US$1,200 per year in order to get a permit to work in Indonesia.

Harry said many people had complained about this cost, but said, “the money is compensation paid by foreign workers for local workers”.

“It will be used to train and improve the quality of our workers so that they can be as qualified as the foreigners.”