- What is the Irish volunteer visa?
- Who is eligible for the Irish Volunteer Visa?
- What volunteering work is allowed with this visa?
- Who can sponsor me to volunteer in Ireland?
- What is the visa application process for Ireland’s Volunteer Visa?
- What documents must I submit for my application?
- How Can Total Law Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Irish volunteer visa?
Successful applicants for the Volunteer Visa can enter Ireland in order to volunteer in Ireland. The volunteer visa allows holders to come to Ireland and stay in Ireland for more than 90 days. This visa falls under the long-stay D Irish visa and is not an employment visa.
Canadians are only eligible to make a visa application for the volunteer visa if they have a suitable role from an eligible organization in Ireland.
The initial permitted period one can stay to volunteer in Ireland is one year, and one may not stay in Ireland for more than 2 years. Under this visa, it is not possible to change your immigration status and immigration permission.
The visa allows you to travel out of Ireland for short periods, and it permits you furthermore, you can change your sponsoring organization while in Ireland.
If the volunteering role you’re filling is for less than 90 days, you can’t apply for a volunteer visa. Instead, you’ll apply for a short-stay visa. The Irish volunteer visa also has its limits. You cannot work in any paid position, no matter the kind of work.
Anyone who wants to do volunteering in Ireland has to prove they’re fully supported financially, as you won’t have access to any state benefits or public services.
Who is eligible for the Irish Volunteer Visa?
To be eligible for the Irish Volunteer Visa that is certain conditions must be met.
- You must be over the age of 18
- Have been offered a role to volunteer by an eligible organization
- Be fully supported financially during the stay
- Be qualified to undertake the duties of your volunteer role
- Demonstrate that you are of good character
- Have a child clearance certificate or preclearance approval letter to work with children and vulnerable adults if this is relevant to your volunteer role
- Have a clean police clearance certificate
- Arrange private medical insurance with a company that is authorized by the Health Insurance Authority of Ireland and is valid for the entirety of your stay in Ireland
What volunteering work is allowed with this visa?
The following is permitted as volunteering in Ireland through this visa:
- Arts, heritage, cultural activities
- Religious and faith-based support activities, including youth services, religious groups
- Support for health services
- School education and youth services (outside of school education hours)
- Sports organization and physical recreation
- Welfare and work for the community’s good
There are around 3,000 volunteering opportunities in Ireland.
Who can sponsor me for volunteering in Ireland?
The organization sponsoring must meet some requirements to be eligible to sponsor.
- The organization must be a not-for-profit, non-government body, charitable body, or voluntary body.
- The organization must have an active presence in Ireland
- For charitable organizations, they must feature on the Charities Regulator’s Public Register of Charities
- For a sports organization, they must have a national governing body recognized by Sport Ireland
- Be willing to write a sponsorship letter explaining they’ll support you in Ireland
The sponsor will be responsible for you while you live and volunteer in Ireland. They’ll work with the immigration authorities to ensure that you don’t stay in Ireland longer than you should and hold the right to withdraw your sponsorship at any time if directed by Irish immigration authorities or an Irish immigration officer.
What is the visa application process for Ireland's Volunteer Visa?
Note that Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirements and so do not need to apply for an Irish visa to enter the country, including this one. However, they must obtain pre-clearance before coming to Ireland.
For Canadian residents who are non-visa-required nationals, they must apply for this visa. To submit your application, you can do so using the online AVATS application form. Here, you must select the visa/preclearance type as ‘Long Stay (D)’, the journey type as multiple, and your reason to travel as ‘Visa –Volunteer’. After filling out the application form, you must print the summary application form as this will be used as confirmation of the application. You will need to pay the application fee payment as part of your visa application.
We always suggest applying for your volunteer visa at least three months prior to your intended travel and start date.
If you get your visa successfully, however, the visa alone doesn’t grant you permitted entry into Ireland. At border control, you will have to give your supporting documents and relevant documentation to the immigration officer.
You may only enter Ireland if the immigration officer approves of your visa, then they will stamp a landing stamp in your passport.
What documents must I submit for my application?
The supporting documents are:
- Your current passport and copies of your previous passports
- Two passport-sized photographs
- The summary application form from your online application
- A letter of application with details about yourself and the details of your stay in Ireland
- Evidence that you have medical insurance
- 6 months of your bank statements
- Evidence of your accommodation in Ireland
- Evidence of your qualifications and work experience
- A Police Clearance Certificate
- Evidence that you have paid the relevant preclearance and visa fees
- Documentation on any visa refusals you have had
- Documentation of any criminal convictions or pending criminal charged
- Information about your family if you are married or in a civil partnership
Your future sponsorship in Ireland must submit the following as well:
- A sponsorship letter explaining the volunteering role must also include full contact details of the organization as well as details about the visa applicant.
- Confirmation that they have obtained Garda Síochána vetting for the applicant if they will be working in a role involving children and/or vulnerable adults.
- Evidence that they can financially support you whilst in Ireland includes 6 months of bank statements.
Volunteering in Ireland with an eligible organization is a fantastic way to gain new skills and experience new opportunities! The team at Total Law can make your dream of volunteering abroad a reality. Total Law is a group of accomplished immigration lawyers with professional qualifications dedicated to helping people immigrate and visit the countries they wish to.
Like any immigration permission, the volunteer visa can be a complicated process, full of plenty of paperwork and steps. To avoid any disappointment, delays, and added stress, you can reach out to our Total Law team for our catered support and advice. We are available to answer any of your questions seven days a week, either via a phone call (+1 844 290 6312) or by using our website’s chat form.
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No, it is not possible to apply to change your immigration status while on the volunteer visa.
It is possible to apply for a one-year extension following the granted two-year period. However, there are conditions that must be met. These conditions include that it must be for the current sponsor, not a new one, and they must show proof of the genuine need for your continued service.
Your sponsor has to write a new sponsorship letter which you’ll submit to the local immigration authorities along with supporting documents.
You are allowed to volunteer for a new, eligible organization so long the new sponsor writes a letter of sponsorship and the €50 processing fee is paid. Please note that changing sponsors does not extend your stay in Ireland.
Anyone whose application is denied will get a detailed refusal letter, which will outline the reasons why it was denied. The refusal letter will also inform you whether or not you are permitted to appeal the decision made. In some cases, you may not be permitted to appeal.
If you receive a refusal letter, it will state clearly in your letter if you have a right of appeal or not. The appeal process is free of charge. If you wish to appeal, the appeal must be sent off within 8 weeks of the date of the refusal letter. An appeal must be submitted in writing, fully addressing all of the reasons for the refusal.