Volunteering in Ireland
Ireland’s Volunteer Visa is specifically for those who wish to work as a volunteer in the State for a period of over 90 days – it is not for those who wish to volunteer on a short-term basis (less 90 days).
If you would like to volunteer in Ireland for under 90 days, you should instead consider applying for a Short Stay ‘C’ Visa – one of our experienced, dedicated immigration lawyers can provide detailed guidance on this.
For those who do, however, intend to stay in the State for over a 90-day period in a volunteering role, it is essential to acquire immigration permission to volunteer prior to travelling to Ireland.
This permission can allow you to reside and volunteer in the State for an initial period of 12 months or a maximum period of 24 months (with the potential to extend this for a third year subject to conditions).
How can IAS help me?
Here at IAS, our team of qualified immigration lawyers in Ireland can help with every aspect of your immigration matter – from offering tailored legal advice to preparing and submitting your visa application.
For help with your volunteer visa, contact us today on (+353) 061 518 025 or complete our online enquiry form.
What is the Volunteer Visa?
The Volunteer Visa is ideal for those who wish to work in a voluntary role in the Republic of Ireland for over 90 days.
This visa acts as a form of preclearance in order to enter the State, therefore it is essential to apply for this prior to travelling to Ireland.
You will not be granted entry to the State to work as a long stay volunteer unless you can provide a Preclearance Approval Letter to an Immigration Border Official upon arrival to the State.
With this visa, you will be permitted to:
- Undertake a volunteering role with an eligible organisation
- Stay in Ireland for 1 year initially with the possibility of extending to 2 years
- Change the organisation you are volunteering for once in any 12-month period
- Travel abroad for short periods
You are, however, not permitted to undertake paid work of any kind, bring family members with you to Ireland, change your immigration status while in Ireland, change your sponsor more than once in any 12-month period, rely on any public services or state benefits, or spend over two years in Ireland on aggregate volunteering.
What are the conditions of the Volunteer Visa?
There are some specific conditions and requirements with regard to those who are eligible to apply for a Volunteer visa and what you can/cannot do with this immigration permission.
The eligibility criteria for the Volunteer Visa is as follows:
- You must be aged 18 or above
- You must be a non-EU/EEA and non-Swiss national
- You must have medical insurance with a company authorised by the Health Insurance Authority of Ireland for the entirety of your stay in Ireland
- You must have been offered a volunteering role by an eligible organisation
- You must demonstrate that you will be financially supported by the organisation that you are volunteering for during your entire stay
- You must be qualified to undertake the activities expected of you in your volunteering role
- You must be of good character and good standing
- You must be cleared to work with children and vulnerable adults if this is relevant to your role
For more information on your personal eligibility, get in touch with one of our outstanding immigration lawyers who can provide unique, tailored legal advice and assistance: (+353) 061 518 025.
What type of volunteering work can I take part in?
To be accepted for a Volunteer visa in Ireland, you must volunteer for an approved sector.
This can include:
- Arts, heritage & culture activities
- Religious and faith-based support activities
- Health support services
- Education and youth services (outside of school)
- Sport and physical recreation
- Welfare and work for the community good
You can also be given permission to participate in volunteering where there is no financial gain by you and where this benefits society, while also bringing benefits to you as a volunteer.
Who can I volunteer for?
You must be invited to volunteer in Ireland by an eligible organisation which will be your ‘sponsor’. This must be either:
- A non-government, not-for-profit, voluntary or charitable body that is active in Ireland & features on the Charities Regulator’s Public Register of Charities
- A sports organisation whose national governing body is recognised by Sport Ireland
Which documents must I provide in my application for a Volunteer visa?
It is essential that you provide all required supporting documentation when making an application for a Volunteer visa.
Some key documents which you must provide (not an exhaustive list) are:
- A copy of your current passport and all previous passports
- A letter of sponsorship from the organisation sponsoring you
- Full six months bank statement from yourself & your sponsor
- Evidence of your qualifications and any work/volunteer experience
- Police Clearance Certificate which is no more than 3 months old from your country of residence & any country you have resided in within the 3 years prior to your application
- Confirmation from your sponsor that they have obtained Garda Síochána vetting for you if your volunteering role involves children and/or vulnerable adults
- Evidence of medical/travel insurance for you
It is also crucial to note that if you have previously been refused a visa or if you have been deported from/instructed to leave any country, you must provide the relevant documentation from the authorities of that country.
One of our immigration lawyers will ensure that you have provided sufficient supporting documentation to give you the best chance of success.
Do I need to apply for an entry visa as well as preclearance?
Since the ‘Volunteer visa’ is actually only a form of preclearance, it is still necessary for non-EU/EEA nationals from visa required countries to apply for an entry visa in addition to preclearance.
If you live in China, Nigeria, India or Pakistan, you must submit your entry visa application at the same time as submitting your preclearance application.
If you do not live in any of the above countries, you must submit your preclearance application prior to your entry visa application and must wait until your preclearance has been accepted before applying for an entry visa.
How do I register my immigration permission?
Those who have been granted preclearance (and, if necessary, have acquired an entry visa) must still register for immigration permission once they have entered the Republic of Ireland.
After you have entered the country, you must visit a registration office before your landing stamp expires in order to extend your immigration permission to stay in the State for longer than 90 days as a volunteer.
You will also register your details here.
It is only after you have registered for immigration permission that you will receive permission to stay in Ireland as a Volunteer for an initial 12 month period under Stamp 3 conditions.
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If your volunteering role will involve working with children and vulnerable adults, you must have a clean police record that is no more than 3 months old and must also be cleared to work with both children and vulnerable adults through An Garda Síochána.
Until this clearance is received, you will not receive permission to volunteer with children and vulnerable adults.
If you would like to volunteer for a different organisation, you must apply to Residence Division to enquire about the possibility of changing sponsors.
Our team of immigration experts at the Immigration Advice Service in Ireland can provide assistance with this.
If you would like further information about how to change to another volunteer position at a different organisation in Ireland, contact us on (+353) 061 518 025.
If your application to volunteer on a long-term basis in Ireland has been declined, IAS is here to help.
Our immigration lawyers have extensive experience when it comes to appealing decisions, often succeeding in achieving desired results.
It may be that your initial application did not provide sufficient supporting documentation or that there were minor inconsistencies – whatever the issue, we can assess the decision and advise you on how to proceed from there.
To find out the ways in which we can help you, call us on (+353) 061 518 025.