USA and the UK
- What is the Volunteer Visa?
- What are the eligibility requirements for the Volunteer Visa?
- What are the requirements for the sponsoring organization?
- How to apply for a Volunteer Visa
- What supporting documents do I need to submit?
- What do I need to do after I arrive in Ireland?
- How can IAS help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Volunteer Visa?
The Volunteer Visa to Ireland is intended for non-EEA citizens or non-visa-required nationals who want to come to Ireland to volunteer. Depending on how long you will be volunteering in Ireland, you can apply for either a Short Stay ‘C’ Volunteer Visa or a Long Stay ‘D’ Volunteer Visa.
It is important to obtain a Volunteer Visa prior to traveling to Ireland as this visa is considered a form of preclearance that will allow the foreign nationals to enter Ireland. However, this visa alone will not allow foreign nationals to enter Ireland. He or she must present a Preclearance Approval Letter to an immigration officer at Irish Border Control in order to enter the country.
If your application for the Long Stay ‘D’ Visa is successful, you will be able to engage in volunteering work in Ireland for more than 3 months (up to 1 year). If you come to Ireland on the Short Stay ‘C’ Visa, however, you can spend up to 90 days in Ireland. After that, you have to leave the country.
To be able to obtain the Long Stay ‘D’ Volunteer Visa, your volunteer work in Ireland has to be in one of the following approved sectors:
- Arts and culture
- Religious activities
- Health support
- Youth services
You might also be able to do other kinds of volunteer work as long as it will be of benefit to Irish society. Our lawyers can assess your circumstances and tell you whether you can apply for a Volunteer Visa.
What are the eligibility requirements for the Volunteer Visa?
All foreign citizens who want to apply for the Volunteer Visa to Ireland have to meet the following requirements:
- You are 18 years of age or older
- You are a citizen of a non-EEA country
- You have been invited to volunteer by an eligible organization
- You have private medical insurance that is authorized by the Health Insurance Authority
- You have enough finances to support yourself during your stay in Ireland and the organization you will be working for will help you financially
- You are of good character
- You are cleared to work with children and vulnerable adults
- You have the qualifications needed for the position.
You can only receive a Volunteer Visa if you have a sponsor in Ireland. Organizations that can sponsor you include NGOs, not-for-profit organizations, charities included on the Charities Regulator’s Public Register of Charities, and sports organizations recognized by Sport Ireland.
You may not engage in any kind of paid work while volunteering in Ireland. Nor may you bring in any family members on a dependent visa, change your sponsor more than once in a year, or rely on public services or state benefits.
If you are not sure whether you are eligible for the Volunteer Visa, get in touch with our lawyers. They will assess your situation and, if they determine that you meet the criteria, will help you apply for your visa.
What are the requirements for the sponsoring organization?
Just like all applicants, organizations that sponsor foreign citizens to come to Ireland as volunteers have to meet certain requirements. These are:
- The organization is an NGO, a not-for-profit body, or a charity
- The organization is active in Ireland
- If the sponsoring organization is a charity, it is featured on the Charities Regulator’s Public Register of Charities
- If the sponsoring organization is a sports body whose national governing body has to be recognized by Sport Ireland.
For you to be able to obtain the Volunteer Visa, your sponsoring organization has to write you a letter of sponsorship. In the letter, the organization has to provide full contact details and contact information. In addition to that, the letter has to explain the following:
- What your role in Ireland will be
- Why your help as a volunteer is needed
- How your qualifications and work experience match the volunteer position
- What are the suggested dates of work volunteering in Ireland
- That you will not rely on State funds during your stay
- That you do not have a criminal record
- How the organization will help you financially during your time in Ireland
- What your expenses will be and who will cover them.
Our lawyers can explain to you in detail what criteria your sponsoring organization in Ireland must meet.
How to apply for a Volunteer Visa
Applications for Volunteers Visas can be made online through the AVATS system. It is recommended that you start your application at least 3 months before your intended date of travel to Ireland.
After you have submitted your application, you will be shown a summary application form which you will need to sign and send away to the designated visa office along with the required supporting documents. These documents must be submitted within 30 days after completing the online AVATS application. In addition to sending away the necessary documents, you will also need to pay the corresponding visa fee.
If approved for a Long Stay D visa, you will receive a stamp in your passport which will allow you to travel to Ireland. You must travel to Ireland within 6 months of receiving your Volunteer visa.
Once you have arrived at a Border Control authority in Ireland, you will need to present your visa and the necessary supporting documents to the immigration authorities who will inspect everything. If approved for entry, you will receive a landing stamp in your passport and be allowed entry into the country.
If you are on a Long Stay Irish Visa, you will need to register your presence with immigration authorities where you will receive an Irish Residence Permit (IRP). This permit designates you as a lawful Irish resident that can travel out of Ireland and return on short trips.
What supporting documents do I need to submit?
To apply for the Irish Volunteer Visa, you have to submit an online form. Once you do that and pay the visa application fee, you have to start preparing documents that prove your eligibility for the visa.
The exact documents you have to submit vary as each case is different but evidence everyone needs to submit includes:
- Valid passport
- Copies of previous passports
- Letter from the organization that agreed to sponsor you to come volunteer in Ireland
- Recent banks statements from your account within the past 6 months
- Proof of your qualifications and work experience
- Police Clearance Certificate obtained no more than 3 months before submitting the application
- Proof that you are cleared to work with children and vulnerable adults
- Evidence of your medical insurance
- Any information about past visa refusals
Our lawyers can help you gather all the necessary documents to make sure you have sufficient documents to obtain your Volunteer Visa.
What do I need to do after I arrive in Ireland?
If you intend to spend more than 90 days in Ireland, after you arrive, you have to register with immigration authorities. It is necessary to receive immigration permission allowing you to stay in the country for longer than 3 months.
To register, you have to go to your local immigration office. You will have 90 days to complete the registration but you should do it as soon as possible after you arrive in Ireland.
Once you register, you will receive your Irish Residence Permit card that proves that you have the right to reside in Ireland for longer than 90 days. The Irish Residence Permit is a small card that indicates the type of permission you received. It will be sent to you by post.
If you are coming to Ireland on the Short Stay ‘C’ Volunteer Visa, you do not have to register.
How can IAS help?
Understanding the numerous requirements of volunteering in Ireland can be complicated. Nevertheless, if you hire one of our lawyers, they will guide you through the application process and answer all your questions.
Thanks to the help of our highly qualified immigration lawyers, you can maximize the chances of your application being accepted. They will help you gather documents that prove your eligibility for the visa and will help you complete the application form.
If you go through the application process alone, you can easily forget to submit certain required evidence or make mistakes in the application. That can lead to your application being delayed or even rejected.
Call us today at +1 844 290 6312 to find out more about how our lawyers can help.
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To be able to come to Ireland on a Volunteer Visa, your work has to be in an approved sector. Examples of sectors you can volunteer in are:
- Arts, heritage, and culture
- Health support services
- Education and youth services
- Religious and faith-based activities
- Sport and physical recreation
You might be able to do other kinds of volunteer work too as long as it is intended to bring good to the community. The volunteer work you plan to do in Ireland cannot bring you financial benefits.
If your visa application is rejected, you will receive a letter outlining the reasons for the decision. If you believe that the refusal is unjustified, you can appeal it. To make sure your appeal case is as strong as possible, you should consult an immigration lawyer before doing so.
Keep in mind that in some circumstances, such as when your visa has been refused because you lied in your application, you might not have the right to appeal the decision.
If you obtain the Short Stay ‘C’ Volunteer Visa, you can stay in Ireland for up to 90 days. The Long Stay ‘D’ Volunteer Visa allows you to remain in Ireland for more than 3 months.
Your visa will be valid for one year with an option to extend it for another year provided that you apply for an extension while your immigration status is still valid.
Generally, during your time in Ireland, you are expected to keep working for the sponsoring organization that wrote you the sponsorship letter. While in Ireland, you might be able to change organizations but the new one has to write you another sponsorship letter explaining why they need your help as a volunteer. You also have to pay a fee of €50 by Electronic Funds Transfer.
Keep in mind that even if you successfully change organizations, you will not be able to spend more time in Ireland than if you stayed with just one sponsor.
If you are currently in Ireland on the Volunteer Visa and you want to change the organizations you work for, get in touch with our lawyers. They will tell you in detail how you can do it.