Visas & Immigration

Immigration Discussion

All visitors to Australia must have a valid visa before boarding their flight.

People living with HIV do not need to declare their status for entry.

Applying for an Australian Visa

Australia’s visa application process is difficult and complex, particularly if you are coming from a developing country, but there is no discrimination on the basis of HIV. However, if you are living with HIV, it is recommended that you do not indicate this on your form, as it is not a required piece of information. Visa applications can be expensive, fees are non-refundable, and it may take several months to process your application. It is therefore important to consider the time and cost involved in the visa application process.

All delegates should prepare the necessary documents for their visa application as early as possible. In April 2014, delegates will receive confirmation of abstract or scholarship approval, and at this time you should immediately commence the process of Australian visa application.

All delegates attending the International AIDS Conference should apply for a Business Visitor Visa, along with the letter of invitation from the Conference and/or letter of support from your organisation. Business visitor visas are generally easier to obtain than tourist visas, but assessment by the Department of Immigration is subjective.

View the StepWise Visa and Immigration webinar here:



Do I need a visa to visit Australia?

Yes.  All visitors must have a visa to enter Australia, before boarding their flight to Australia.   People holding passports from New Zealand are the only exception.

The visa approval process can take up to 2 months.  Begin your application by May 15 to allow sufficient time for processing!

Where do I apply for a visa?

Some people can apply online, though there are several different processes, depending on which country you are from.  However, people from nearly all African, Latin American, and Caribbean countries, and from some parts of Asia, are ineligible to apply for a visa online.  For those who are not eligible to apply online, applications must be submitted through the nearest Australian Overseas Mission, which may be outside of your country.  Offline applications can require significantly more work, documentation, expense, and time—plan accordingly.

Online options:

eVisitor: Available for most European countries. No fee.

Electronic Travel Authority (ETA): Available online for the United States and some Asian countries, and through an agent for most European countries. Fee: AUD20.

Visitor (Business Stream) Visa: Available online for some countries. Fee: AUD130


Visitor (Business Stream) Visa: People who are not eligible to apply online must print and complete a different form for the Visitor (Business Stream) Visa.

Locate your nearest Australian Overseas Mission . Note: there may not be a mission in your country.

How long does the visa application process take?

It can take up to 2 months to receive approval.  Begin your application as soon as feasible—especially if you live in a country for which online applications are not an option.

Are people living with HIV allowed to enter Australia?

Yes. You will not be asked about your HIV status in the visa application process.

Are people living with HIV required to indicate their status on their visa application?

No.  There is no question regarding HIV status on any application.

Are people who do sex work allowed to enter Australia?

There are not questions related specifically to sex work.  But the “character assessment” leans heavily on the applicant’s history of criminal convictions and imprisonment.  Having a “substantial criminal record,” or having ever been imprisoned for more than 12 months, are grounds to fail a “character assessment,” and therefore be denied an entry visa. Read more…

Are people who use drugs allowed to enter Australia?

There are no questions related specifically to drug use.  But the “character assessment” leans heavily on the applicant’s history of criminal convictions and imprisonment.  Having a “substantial criminal record,” or having ever been imprisoned for more than 12 months, are grounds to fail a “character assessment,” and therefore be denied an entry visa. Read more…

Are people with TB allowed to enter Australia?

No.  If you are from a country, or have recently traveled in a country with a significant TB epidemic, you may be required to undergo a TB screening as part of your visa application process.

What happens if my visa application is denied?

While there is an appeal process, it can be costly and take a long time.  Given the timeframe, if you initiated your application after 1 April 2014, there will not be enough time to appeal, and you will not be granted entry into Australia for AIDS2014.  Do not attempt to board a flight to Australia without a visa.

For people who have been denied a visa but who have already paid registration and/or other costs associated with AIDS 2014, some of those costs can be refunded by the conference.

Tips for answering health related questions on the visa application:

When people apply for a temporary visa, they need to complete a number of questions that relate to their health status. Answers to these questions will determine whether health examinations will be required.

Temporary visa applicants are asked to list countries visited in the five years preceding their current visa application. If the incidence of TB is high in particular countries and the visa applicant stayed three months or longer in one of those countries, then they may be required to undergo a chest x-ray. More information about the TB risk framework for temporary visa applicants is available on the department’s website.

See: Health requirement for temporary entry to Australia

If temporary visa applicants intend to enter a hospital or a health care facility while in Australia, a  chest x-ray may be required as part of the health screening to identify active TB.

Medical examinations may be required where a temporary visa applicant indicates that during their stay in Australia they expect to incur medical costs, require treatment, need a follow up for their medical conditions and/or they require assistance with mobility or care due to a medical condition.

Visa applicants must answer yes to these questions if, while in Australia they:

  • are likely to require any care in hospital regardless of whether they will be covering the cost
  • will require medications they are not bringing with them
  • intend to undergo any medical procedure including exploratory, dental or cosmetic procedures, regardless of whether they intend to pay for the procedure.

Visa applicants should answer no to these questions if while in Australia they are intending to:

  • receive alternative therapies, such as aromatherapy or massage and cover own costs
  • continue physiotherapy arranged with a clinic in Australia and cover own costs
  • continue drug treatment for HIV, Opioid Substitution Therapy or another condition and will be bringing sufficient medication for their stay
  • consult with a specialist about their condition and cover own costs of these appointments.

Unless you are traveling to Australia for the express purpose of receiving medical care, there is generally no reason to respond yes to these questions.

Read more about visa applications (PDF)

Read more about health and the Australian visa process (PDF)

Also, visit the AIDS 2014 Visa Information page for up-to-date information.

StepWise is a place to share your visa experience and get insight from other community members.  please share your experience or pose a question to the StepWise community below, or on the  StepWise Facebook page …

  1. Alieu Sheriff says:

    There is no Australian Mission in Liberia , so what can Liberian applicant go for our visa

  2. Kemigisha Alice says:

    1. I will be working at aids 2014 as a volunteer, do i need to pay visacharges? 2. Am travelling with my 8 year old daughter, do i need to apply a visa for her? And do i have to pay for her visa? If sohowmuch? 3.How much do i have to pay for myvisa? Thank you.

    • Charlie Baran says:

      Dear Alice,
      All persons entering Australia will need to pay a visa fee if it applies to the country of their passport. Yesterday’s webinar, which is available above, provides information on where and how to determine which process you will need to do for a visa, depending on your country. For further information, please see the AIDS 2014 Visa page. You are encouraged to get your application started immediately.

      • Thanks charie, does my accompaying child need this business visa? at how much?we have arleady submitted our visa application but visa fees not yet paid, Is there any grant for visas for deligates?How much is 130AUD in Us dollars? If i cant pay by a credit card what other means can i pay?

Have a Question? Share your experience!