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Indonesia Enters Talent War With ChatGPT Golden Visa

The new residency scheme seeks to woo AI and tech experts as much as investment

Indonesia is the latest country to launch a golden visa programme and has kickstarted the scheme by granting the first residence permit to a surprising recipient: ChatGPT founder Sam Altman.

Golden visas are the colloquial name for residence-by-investment programmes which see governments issue stay permits to foreign individuals in exchange for setting up new companies, buying properties or investing in funds.

But the programme launched by Southeast Asia’s biggest economy on August 30 takes a different spin, making its 10-year golden visas also available to ‘notable individuals’ nominated by the government.

This pathway is offered to “well-known figures with an international reputation [who] can benefit Indonesia”, said the country’s director general of immigration, Silmy Karim, in a September 4 statement. That same day, the government granted the first golden visa to Mr Altman — the man behind the artificial intelligence (AI)-powered ChatGPT — stating it expected him to contribute to Indonesia’s AI ecosystem. It is not clear if Mr Altman, who visited Indonesia in June, applied for the permit or was granted it unilaterally.

His visa is a sign “that Indonesia would like to attract talent and investors from digital business sectors”, says Primadi Wahyuwidagdo Soerjosoemanto, principal of consultancy Bright Indonesia. Since launching its AI strategy in 2020, the government has established an AI and Cybersecurity Research Centre which is working on AI regulations to take effect by 2025. However, Mr Soerjosoemanto notes the country has “no specific lead-generation programmes for attracting global tech investors [from] Silicon Valley, Guangzhou, Bangalore” or other innovation hubs. He believes golden visas could be used as a tool to help fill this gap.


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