Catching Illegal Workers Too Hard, Says Immigration Chief

DENPASAR

The head of the Denpasar immigration office says catching foreigners working illegally on the island is a problem — because unless officials can find them actually at work it’s hard to prove they are violating labour laws.

“We have to admit the difficulty of overcoming the problem of foreigners using tourist visas for employment purposes. Immigration frequently received reports of illegal workers, but unless we can catch them actually working it’s hard to prove a violation,” immigration office chief Hatomi said.

The Denpasar office is responsible for immigration matters in Denpasar and five regencies.

According to Hatomi many foreigners work illegally in hotels and as tour guides as well as at a number of foreign companies. He said this was a worldwide problem, especially in tourism, and Bali’s growing popularity as an international destination had contributed to the increase in illegal workers here.

“On one hand we need tourists to come in great numbers, but on the other, some foreigners on non-working visas compete for jobs with local workers,” he said.

The Denpasar immigration office has deported 40 foreigners in 2010 for violating immigration rules.

The official number of temporary resident permit holders (KITAS) issued by the Denpasar immigration office to the end of August 2010 — the latest figure available — totals 5,931.

Hatomi said: “We will take a strict attitude towards foreigners who break the rules. If they stay in Indonesia with proper documentation their presence here will be protected and safeguarded.

“But if they come to Indonesia and don’t hold legal documentation, we will not only deport them but also process them in accordance with the law.”

Foreigners in paid employment in Indonesia must have a valid work permit issued by the Manpower Department and a KITAS. Many illegal workers are on tourist visas which prohibit any employment whether or not paid, or social-cultural visas which prohibit paid employment.

Business visas also prohibit employment or any work-related payments.

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