UK Charity Worker Visa for Irish Citizens
Visa-required nationals who wish to travel to the UK to work for a charity on a temporary basis must receive immigration permission. You may be able to receive a charity worker visa for up to twelve months. The charity worker visa is intended for those temporary workers who are participating in unpaid voluntary work in the UK.
If you are planning to travel to the UK to work for a charity, contact Total Law for advice from qualified immigration experts. Call (+353) 061 518 025 or use the online contact form to get assistance with the application process for temporary charity workers.
What is a Charity Worker Visa?
The charity worker visa provides entry clearance to visa-required nationals who are participating in unpaid voluntary work for a company authorised to issue a certificate of sponsorship in the UK. An eligible organisation must hold a valid sponsor license in the UK. A COS is a digital record that shows the details of sponsorship between the applicant and the UK sponsor/ employer including your immigration status, the nature of your volunteering work, and the time length of your immigration permission. The charity worker volunteer visa is valid for up to twelve months, or the time listed on the visa holder’s certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is the shorter time.
While in the UK, charity worker visa holders are permitted to:
- Work for the job listed on their certificate of sponsorship
- Take on a second job if the second job is in the same level or sector as the main job or the job is listed on the UK shortage occupation list.
Charity worker visa holders are not permitted to:
- Access state benefits including public services such as health services.
- Remain in the UK after the valid term of their visa.
- Accept a permanent job
- Perform paid work or work for an organization other than the job listed on their visa without additional permission, including a sports organisation.
- Perform work pertaining to the maintenance of the charity organisation’s offices, including work that is fundraising, administrative, or retail in nature.
- Vote in UK elections.
Charity work may include organisations such as youth services, religious activities, programs supporting disadvantaged children and vulnerable adults, physical recreation, welfare and supplementary school education programs in an approved sector.
The charity worker visa is not a direct path to settlement or citizenship in the UK. If you intend on staying in the UK for a longer amount of time or participating in paid work opportunities, you may require an employment visa. However, if you are a legal resident of Ireland, you may not require a visa to work in the UK. Immigration registration is necessary for visa-required nationals. Contact a qualified immigration advisor on the visa or immigration permissions that are right for you.
Applicants for the charity worker visa must meet a number of requirements to be granted permission to enter the UK. These include:
- Applicants must plan to participate in voluntary not-for-profit work. The activities expected must be those that would not typically be undertaken for financial gain, and that directly support the charitable pillar of the sponsoring organization.
- Applicants must be at least 18 years of age or older at the time they apply
- Applicants must obtain an offer from a licensed sponsor prior to application.
- Applicants must have a valid certificate of sponsorship issued by a licensed sponsor in the UK.
- Applicants must have a minimum of £1,270 of personal savings for the 28 days prior to their application. If an eligible organisation undertakes your financial maintenance, you may be exempt from the financial maintenance requirement. This agreement must be stated on your certificate of sponsorship.
Eligibility for Dependent Family Members
Dependent family members may be eligible to join the primary volunteer visa holder in the UK in certain cases. Qualifying family members are:
- Dependent children under the age of 18
- Certain dependent children over the age of 18
- Dependent spouses or civil partners
- Dependent unmarried partners who have been in a cohabiting relationship with the primary visa holder for at least 2 years
Each dependent family member must apply separately. Dependent family members will need to provide proof of additional funds to support themselves for the entire duration of the visa, including:
- £285 for a spouse or partner
- £315 for one child
- £200 for each additional child
In addition, dependent family members will need to pay additional application fees and healthcare surcharges. You should arrange private medical insurance for each dependent family member for the duration of your visa.
How to Apply
- Check that you meet the charity worker eligibility requirements.
- Gather your supporting documentation and certificate of sponsorship. Volunteer visa applications can be submitted up to three months before the date you plan to start work in the UK.
- Apply online by filling out the charity worker visa online application form available at the UK government website in the temporary worker section. Fill out the application truthfully. Submitting false or misleading information can lead to this and future visas being denied and impede future sponsorship.
- Upload your required supporting documents online.
- Pay the charity worker volunteer visa application fee.
- Keep a confirmation of your application for later use.
- Verify your identity using your biometric information. You may be able to do this by scanning your passport on the UK Immigration: ID Check app. If you are unable to scan your passport using the app, you must attend a biometric information appointment at a visa application service centre.
Note that a visa is not an absolute guarantee of entry. Immigration authorities at border control maintain the final say over who is permitted entry into the country.
When you apply for a Charity Worker Visa in the UK, you must submit a portfolio of documentary evidence of your identity along with details of the organization you will be working with. Your document package will be assessed for eligibility for the charity worker category.
Make sure that your documents match the information given on your visa application. Inaccurate documentation is a common reason for visas to be delayed or denied. Relevant documentation for a UK Charity Worker Visa may include the following:
- Your birth certificate
- Your passport with a valid expiration date through the terms of your visa
- Your contact details
- Details about the UK charity organization you will be working with
- Your certificate of the sponsorship reference number
- Receipt of your application fee payment
- Details about your accommodations in the UK
- Evidence that you intend to return to your country of origin upon the expiration of your visa in the UK
- Details of any previous visa refusals
- Biometric Information (fingerprints and a photograph)
- Proof of private medical insurance
- Police clearance certificate
Charity worker volunteer visa applicants may be required to provide additional documentation in some cases. If additional documents are requested during the processing of your visa application, you must provide them by the date given or risk your visa being denied.
In addition, applicants must submit translated copies of documents that are not originally in English or Welsh languages.
You must provide official documents and statements as the UK home office will not accept uncertified internet statements. When you are required to provide original documents with your application, they will be returned to you by post once your application is processed. Note that copies will not be returned.
Costs and Fees
The fees associated with applying for a charity worker visa in the UK include:
- £244 visa application fee per applicant
- Approximately £19 for biometric information
- £624 per year for the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge.
Each dependent family member will need to pay all fees.
In addition to application fees, you will need to maintain a minimum balance of £1,270 in your personal savings account for the 28 days prior to application to meet the financial maintenance requirement. If dependent family members will be joining you, you will need an additional £285 for a spouse or partner, £315 for the first child, and £200 for each additional child. You may also incur additional charges for the translation of documents, expedited service, or other visa-related services.
Once you submit your charity worker visa application, it generally takes about 3 weeks for the UK home office to complete processing. Processing times are not guaranteed. It is recommended that you wait until you receive your visa decision to make travel plans. Processing times may be delayed in some cases due to workload by the processing office or due to applicant error.
In some cases, if documents are missing or additional information is needed, an immigration officer may send you a request for information. Respond to this request by the date given to avoid having your application delayed or rejected. A qualified immigration advisor can review your application prior to submission to ensure that it is complete and has the best chance of approval.
How Can Total Law Help?
At Total Law, our team of qualified immigration experts will ensure that your Charity Worker Visa application has the highest chance of approval by carefully guiding you through the application process.
Your Total Law advisor will provide you with the current immigration law updates and visa guidelines that matter to you and review your documentation prior to submission.
For further information, contact us today at (+353) 061 518 025 or use our online contact form to get in touch with our team of expert immigration lawyers.
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Frequently Asked Questions
If your application is rejected, you should receive a refusal letter from the immigration officer detailing the reason for the decision. In most cases, denial of a charity worker visa is caused by the applicant not meeting the requirements for eligibility, such as the financial maintenance requirement. You may be exempt from the financial requirement if you will be fully supported financially by your sponsor.
Visa applications can also be delayed or rejected if they have incomplete or incorrect information, if the applicant fails any criminal record checks conducted, or if they plan to undertake work that is not in an approved sector. Submitting a new application is just one of the options you have when your visa application is rejected. An immigration lawyer can advise you on whether it may be beneficial to apply for an appeal or administrative review.
Yes, in some situations it is possible to have the charity worker visa extended. Generally, this is when the maximum 12-month period of the visa has not been used. You can then apply to extend your visa up to 12 months if you are doing volunteering work for the same sponsor.
If you would like to switch visas, consult an immigration lawyer who can recommend the best course of action according to your circumstances. You will be required to meet the requirements for eligibility for the visa you wish to switch to. You will need to apply and be accepted for the visa.
Non-visa-required nationals may not need a visa in order to work in the UK. An immigration lawyer can determine what guidelines and regulations you must follow in order to accept paid work in the UK. While on the charity worker visa, activities expected must include only those which are not performed for financial gain.
You do not need to attach an additional preclearance letter or sponsorship letter explaining the details of your job as your certificate of sponsorship should have all of the details the UK home office needs. For detailed guidance on documents, you should provide, consult a qualified immigration advisor.