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I am from India. I have been invited to a conference in AI to be held in Australia this year. I want my wife to accompany me during the trip, since we wish to tour Australia as well during the same period. (We have been married for only 5 months and this will be our first long trip together.)

As I understand, I need to apply for a business visitor visa, while my wife needs to apply for a tourist visitor visa. Should we apply in a single application or separately? Moreover, I am a scientist, while my wife is not working currently. My trip is completely sponsored by my company, whereas I will be paying for my wife's trip. What will be the best way to present my case to the visa officer?

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    @user2808118 Are you speaking at or otherwise participating in the Conference, or just attending it? There is also a Temporary Activity Visa, sub class 408 homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa-1/408- – Traveller Apr 22 '18 at 10:04
  • An FYI. I routinely get emails inviting me to AI conferences in another country to my work email address. They are often bogus predatory scams asking for a large upfront fee. – Phil Apr 23 '18 at 9:38
  • I will be speaking at the conference. – user2808118 Apr 23 '18 at 10:54
  • @Phil: I am aware of fake conferences. – user2808118 Apr 23 '18 at 11:19
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The relevant page for the visitor (subclass 600) visa on the Department's website (once you have provided your details) provides the following under the Visa applicants tab:

Including family in your application

Family members who want to travel to Australia with you must lodge separate visa applications. You cannot include them in your application.

Family members who are accompanying Business Visitors and are not themselves intending to engage in business visitor activities while in Australia should apply for the Tourist stream.

To link your family’s online applications together, create a group in ImmiAccount in the ‘Manage Groups’ tab and include the Group ID and name in each person’s application.

  • 1
    Thanks. That is helpful. My company will be applying for visa on my behalf, while my wife needs to apply for visa separately. Let me see if I can convince them to include the group id in my visa application. – user2808118 Apr 23 '18 at 10:54
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Sharing the perspective of someone who sometimes speaks at conferences.

Talk to your conference organizers

The best thing to do would be to reach out to the conference organizers. They are physically in Australia and if it's anything like conferences I've attended they're well versed in how to deal with visas.

Some larger conferences I've attended even work with law firms and would happily speak to an immigration lawyer for you if things get problematic.

We don't know all the nuances

There might be nuances in Australian immigration law with relation to your field (in this case AI). People on this site are likely not aware of those. Your conference organizers probably know about these if they exist and would love to make sure you have a smooth journey.

Conferences generally really like to make sure that speakers are happy.

If you can't reach them

A good second option would be your advisor (in academia) or boss (if working for a company in the field).

If you can't get help from them

Large open source projects you're involved in are a good third option. For example Node, which I contribute to has a travel fund and could also help with legal advice.

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    "Nuances": this is a great point. For example, paid conference speakers can enter the US in B-1 status under certain circumstances, the first of which is that the organizer must be a certain type of organization (higher education, nonprofit research, or government research). Few people intending to speak at conferences in the US are likely to discover this for themselves. Coordinators at the sponsoring organizations are much more likely to know this sort of thing. – phoog Apr 22 '18 at 18:05
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Check your own visa requirements first. Conferences and events on the Australian Government's website is a good starting point with expandable subheadings.

  • The "Event organisers and participants" section indicates that if you are an attendee but not a paid participant/speaker, you may be eligible to attend on a visitor's visa. If you are a participant, however, you may need a Temporary Activity visa (subclass 408).

  • The "International Event Coordinator Network" (IECN) states that the IECN provides free advice to event organisers. As recommended by Benjamin Gruenbaum in his answer, contact the conference organiser to take advantage of this.

  • The visa finder on the same site site suggests your wife may need a tourist (600) visa. The visa finder does not guarantee that the visa it suggests is the correct one under all cirumstances - it's just a search.

  • K2moo4's answer covers means of linking your family's applications together.

Note I am not a lawyer and the Home Affairs' website does not guarantee that information obtained from it is always applicable. Please attempt to confirm independently (e.g. with the organiser) that you are applying for the correct visas.

-2

You do not need a business visa (unless the organizer of the conference pays you).

From what I gather, you and your wife should apply for a Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601). This allows for tourist and some business activities, one of them being:

  • participating in conferences, trade fairs or seminars, as long as you are not being paid by the organisers for your participation.

You should both apply though.

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    If I’m not mistaken, ETAs are not available for Indian citizens, so they should apply for an actual visa. – jcaron Apr 22 '18 at 15:56
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    @jcaron indeed that is correct, as the linked page makes clear. To see the list of eligible countries, click "Electronic Travel Authority applicants" and then "Who could get this visa." In that section, there is a list of "Eligible passports," from which India is absent. – phoog Apr 22 '18 at 18:08

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