International AIDS Society

Visa and Travel Information

The conference organizers strongly recommend that potential AIDS 2012 delegates visit the website of the U.S. embassy/consulate in their country as soon as possible to learn about the specific U.S. immigration processes and timing that will apply to them.

All visa applications should be made no later than 90 days before travelling to the U.S. (i.e. no later than mid-April 2012 for conference delegates).

If you have had your visa application denied please inform the conference secretariat by writing to . Please note that the conference is unable to intervene in the visa application process.

A list of the embassies and links to contact details are available here. To view current interview times: http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638.html.

For an overview of the U.S. embassies and their interview and processing times please click here.

Many nationals will need to apply for a non-immigrant visa. For more information please click here.

Some nationals are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). For more information please click here.

Click here for fact sheets to help guide you through the immigration processes. Please note that it is your responsibility to find out the requirements and obtain entry to the U.S.

Advice for members of the transgender community can be found here.

If you would like some advice or need clarity on the processes please contact a U.S. embassy or .

People living with HIV (PLHIV)

As of January 2010, people living with HIV (PLHIV) are allowed entrance into the U.S. This policy change was crucial to bringing the conference back to the U.S. after nearly two decades. For individuals who have previously been denied a visa on these grounds or were given a waiver on these grounds, this information will no longer be displayed to the consular officer reviewing the visa application and will be irrelevant when the new visa application is considered.

Delegates should note that if they were previously denied entry into the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for any reason, including because of their HIV status or because of having misrepresented their HIV status during their inspection for admission, Federal law states that they are permanently barred from entering the U.S. under VWP in the future. This applies even if the previous reason for having been denied (i.e. being HIV positive) is no longer a factor. Individuals in this situation should apply for a Non-Immigrant visa. The previous denial reason will not be a factor in the decision on the new visa application, nor will current HIV status be relevant to the decision.

Arrival in the U.S.

Process at Port of Entry/Airport

Delegates should be prepared to wait in line at the U.S. port of entry/airport. Port of entry wait times can vary for a number of reasons, e.g. time of day, weather. At the port of entry, an officer from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will make a determination of your eligibility and status relative to your admission to the United Sates. The CBP Officer will begin with an examination of your passport and other entry related travel documents. The officer will also ask you some questions designed to find out your reason for travelling to the U.S., where you are staying and for how long, and your previous travel to the U.S., among other questions. Usually this process is brief (two-three minutes), however, some travelers may also experience additional secondary questioning in a separate area which may take considerably longer. More information about this process is available here and here.

In addition, you will be required to provide biometrics (digital fingerprints and photographs) on equipment stationed at the interview kiosk. Full information about this process is available here.

Even if a traveler has a valid visa or VWP ESTA authorization, the officer can deny entry at the point of entry. You are encouraged to have all supporting documents with you at the border, including:
  • passport and necessary visa
  • conference letter of invitation
  • proof of the return flight
  • proof of accommodation .
Remember that the authority to allow your entry into the U.S. lies primarily with the CBP officer corps at the port of entry. CBP strives to treat all travelers professionally and with respect. They can deny entry if you provide false information. Remain calm and cooperative throughout the entry process. If you are pulled aside for secondary screening, this does not mean that you will be denied entry.

People living with HIV

Effective January 4, 2010, a diagnosis of HIV infection will not render a person traveling to the United States inadmissible under Section 212(a)(1)(A)(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). In other words, you will not be denied entry to the United States based on HIV status. (You may wish to print out the information at this link to have with you at the time of entry). CBP in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State will be sending all ports of entry a conference background paper, guidance for traveling with medications in addition to a reminder that HIV status is no longer a basis for denying entry into the United States.

212a1Ai annotation

Some people living with HIV who applied for a U.S. visa prior to 2010 and who declared their HIV status at that time may have a note in their passport or historical documentation known as a "212a1Ai annotation". This refers to the section of the law, U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which was used to restrict the entry of people living with HIV prior to 2010.

However, because this section of the law still applies to other "communicable disease of public health significance" these travelers may experience further questioning to discover the basis for the annotation. However, there may be travelers with HIV who have other health-related issues that make this section of the law still relevant. Further, please note that there are a number of reasons why a person may be found inadmissible to the United States under the INA or require additional screening per CBP policy or other pertinent regulations. For more information see here.

In any event, whether admitted after primary or secondary processing or, for that matter, denied entry, CBP is committed to treating all international travelers professionally and with respect when performing its mission of safeguarding the American homeland while facilitating legitimate travel and trade. If you feel you have not been treated in a professional manner, you have the right to bring it to the attention of CBP management at the local (Passenger Service Managers - PSM), district field office or headquarter level.

Temporary Waivers of Inadmissibility and Port of Entry Processing:

A temporary waiver of inadmissibility must be secured in advance of travel to the United States. The current processing time for a temporary waiver is 120 days. Being in possession of a temporary waiver of ineligibility does not guarantee admission to the United States. You may be asked additional questions related to your temporary waiver in a secondary processing environment. For more information: www.state.gov/documents/organization/87150.pdf (where a visa is required), www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/indamiss_can_info.xml (where a nonimmigrant visa is not required).


Immigration Updates

For an update from the Immigration Working Group on immigration issues and the participation of sex workers and people who use drugs in AIDS 2012, click here.

Click here for previous updates.

Documents for Download

Travelling with Medications

Before travelling to the AIDS 2012 Conference, read the "Guidelines for Attendees Travelling with Medications, including a Controlled Substance", if you are carrying medication.