Why citizenship offer for mixed children lacks takers

by Prasetyadji

The May 31, 2024 deadline has passed for submitting naturalization applications for children from mixed marriages who were late to apply for Indonesian citizenship. Unfortunately, the opportunity has been met with a dearth of responses, as evident in the large number of uncompleted application forms piling up at the Jakarta office of the Law and Human Rights Ministry.

The data shows that around 6 million members of the Indonesian diaspora could have taken advantage of the government’s offer. In the last two years, however, only 111 people have applied for naturalization in Jakarta.

It is still not clear why most mixed children are reluctant to apply for naturalization or to keep their Indonesian citizenship. Is it because many parents are still uninformed about the government’s generous offer? Or is it simply because many children opt to follow their mother or father?

A senior researcher at the Indonesian Citizenship Institute (IKI).


The data shows that around 5,000 mixed children born before 2006 have yet to decide their citizenship. From a series of discussions between the Indonesian Citizenship Institute (IKI) and parents of mixed families, we found that there are still many mixed children  who  have  not  yet  deter- mined their citizenship.

They still enjoy educational, health and other public facilities in their country of residence, even if they are over 21 years old, and some hope to have dual citizenship for life.

IKI has been helping the government disseminate its naturalization program to several provinces and cities, such as Jakarta, Medan, the Riau Islands and Central Java.

Indonesia does not recognize dual citizenship for adults. Once they turn 18, children with one non-Indonesian parent are required to choose a single citizenship and renounce the other. Early in May, Maritime and Investment Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan hinted at a plan to reform the citizenship law and grant dual citizenship to members of the Indonesian diaspora who possess expertise that is much needed by the government.

But realizing this plan is a tall order. There has also been strong public opposition to the proposal for various reasons. The naturalization policy is based on Government Regulation (PP) No. 21/2022, which amends PP No. 3/2007 on the procedures for obtaining, losing, canceling and regaining citizenship. Many consider the regulation a revolutionary breakthrough. Why? The new regulation makes things easier for children from mixed families, including children born in Indonesia who do not have the required immigration certificate in the form of a

Permanent Stay Permit (ITAP) or Limited Stay Permit (ITAS). They can simply attach their population biodata issued by the Population and Civil Registration Service to apply for an Indonesian passport.

Cahyo Rahadian Muzhar, director general of legal and general administration at the Law and Human Rights Ministry, said refining the law was in line with various efforts to improve the conducive climate in the country to attract various parties and make a positive contribution to national development.


Mixed children on average have better education, higher expertise and a wider network, and they are experienced in working in a globally oriented environment. Unsurprisingly, they are deemed assets to Indonesian development.


“Hopefully, this regulation can also encourage the Indonesian diaspora, including children of skilled Indonesian citizens, to have great love for their homeland and to want to contribute to Indonesia,” Cahyo said recently.

Law minister Yasonna Laoly revealed that the government was now preparing a government regulation that would make it much easier for diaspora members to return to their homeland without being obligated to regain Indonesian citizenship. According to the minister, the planned scheme would resemble India’s overseas citizenship policy. This means that diaspora members will have the same rights as citizens, except in political matters.

“Indonesia wants to follow the rules that apply in India. [Members of] The Indian diaspora get a lifetime visa, they can work and invest, but have no political rights,” Yasonna said, as quoted by Kompas.com on June 1.

The regulation will not violate Law No. 12/2006 on Indonesian Citizenship, which mandates single citizenship, and President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is expected to sign the new regulation before he steps down in October.
Indonesia is a multiethnic and multicultural country. Mixed marriages between different ethnicities and between Indonesian citizens and foreign nationals are very common.

According to the earliest Citizenship Law enacted in 1946, citizens are those who have lived in the country for generations or at least five years before Indonesian independence on Aug. 17, 1945 and they do not refuse to become Indonesian citizens. As time progressed, the government issued Citizenship Law No. 62/1958, but this law was deemed to restrict the citizenship rights of Indonesian women who married foreign nationals as well as their children.

Under the 1958 law, these women and their children would automatically follow the citizenship of the husband or father. Meanwhile, the naturalization process to become an Indonesian citizen cost a lot of money and took years.

With the issuance of Citizenship Law No. 12/2006 and PP No.2/2007 in the current millennial era, the government considers the issue of citizenship to be resolved. This is because the government gave children from mixed marriages between Indonesian citizens and foreigners, who were born before the 2006 law was enacted, the option of making a choice about their citizenship status within the four year period from Aug. 1, 2006 to Aug. 1, 2010.

Mixed children on average have better education, higher expertise and a wider network, and they are experienced in working in a globally oriented environment.

Unsurprisingly, they are deemed assets to Indonesian development. Owing to their cross-cultural background, they also easily adapt to and tolerate new environments and changes. They can contribute by playing an active role as a bridge connecting Indonesia and the rest of the world in almost all aspects of life.

The government needs to find out why such a low number of mixed children have applied for Indonesian citizenship. Without listening to their aspirations, the government will only waste huge, untapped potential that Indonesia badly needs to advance.





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