- Volunteering in Ireland
- Who is eligible for the Irish Volunteer Visa?
- What type of work can I do on a volunteer visa?
- How to apply for the volunteer visa
- Required documents
- Travelling to Ireland with a volunteer visa
- Registering with the immigration authorities
- How can Total Law help?
- Frequently asked questions
Volunteering in Ireland
The Volunteer Visa is a visa that permits you to travel to Ireland to do voluntary work. This visa comes under the Long Stay ‘D’ Visa category, if you wish to volunteer on a short-term basis then you should apply for a Short Stay ‘C’ Visa instead.
The visa is valid for an initial permitted period of 1 year with the possibility to be able to extend your stay up to two years. There is also an option to apply to stay in Ireland for a third year that you could be eligible for if you meet certain conditions.
The volunteer visa grants you preclearance to Ireland, this means that you must apply for the visa prior to travelling. Whilst in the country you will be able to work in a volunteering role for an eligible organisation, you can change the organisation you volunteer with once every 12 months and you can also travel in and out of the country on small trips.
Who is eligible for the Irish Volunteer Visa?
To be eligible for the Irish Volunteer Visa that are certain conditions that you must meet, you must:
- Be over the age of 18
- Be a non-EU/EEA and non-Swiss citizen or have prior approval from the INIS.
- Have been offered a role to volunteer by one of the eligible organisations
- Be financially supported during your stay
- Be qualified to undertake the duties of your volunteer role
- Demonstrate that you are of good character
- Have clearance to work with children and vulnerable adults if this is relevant to your volunteer role
- Have a clean police record
- Arrange private medical insurance with a company that is authorised by the Health Insurance Authority of Ireland and is valid for the entirety of your stay in Ireland
What type of work can I do on a volunteer visa?
The Volunteer Visa allows you to volunteer in Ireland in an approved sector. There are many sectors that you can volunteer in, they include youth services, religious and faith-based support activities, arts, heritage, culture, out of school education, health support services, sport and physical recreation, welfare and work for the community good for no financial gain by you and for the benefit of society.
It’s important to note, however, that the volunteer role must be for an eligible organisation. An eligible organisation could be either a non-governmental, not-for-profit, voluntary or charitable body that is already established and active in Ireland and that is listed on the Charities Regulator’s Public Register of Charities or it could also be a sports organisation that is already established and active in Ireland and whose national governing body is recognised by Sport Ireland.
How to apply for the volunteer visa
To apply to come to Ireland under the volunteer scheme then you must apply for preclearance or preclearance and a visa before you travel which you will need to apply for depends on whether you are a visa-required national or a non-visa required national.
Non-visa required nationals, this includes EEA/EU nationals, will only need to apply for preclearance. Visa required nationals, this includes non-EU/EEA nationals, must also apply for a long stay “D” visa.
Residents from China, Nigeria, India or Pakistan must submit their preclearance and visa applications at the same time whilst all other applicants must wait until they have had their preclearance accepted to apply for the visa.
If you are a visa-required national then you may also be required to have your biometric information taken as part of your application.
You can apply for the Irish Volunteer Visa using the online application form. On the application form, visa required nationals should select the visa/preclearance type as ‘Long Stay (D)’, the journey type as multiple and your reason to travel as ‘Visa –Volunteer’. Non-visa required nationals should also select the visa/preclearance type as ‘Long Stay (D)’ and the journey type as multiple but should instead select the reason for travel as ‘Preclearance –Volunteer’.
As part of your Volunteer Visa application, you will also need to submit a number of supporting documents
- 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, criminal record checks conducted by private companies are not accepted
- 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 Irish sponsor is also required to submit certain documents, these include:
- A sponsorship letter explaining the volunteering role, this must also include full contact details of the organisation 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, this includes 6 months of bank statements.
Travelling to Ireland with a volunteer visa
If your application is successful then you will receive a visa or preclearance approval letter that will tell you the dates between which you can travel to Ireland.
When you travel to Ireland you will need to show your visa or preclearance approval letter and present it to an immigration officer at your port of entry. Your preclearance letter of visa only allows you to travel to Ireland for a specific purpose, they do not give you permission to enter the country or stay there. An immigration officer will decide whether to grant or deny you permission to enter and they will not grant you entry unless you have an appropriate preclearance approval letter or a long stay Volunteer Visa.
As well as your visa or preclearance letter you will also need to provide the immigration officer with other documents such as your letter of invitation, accommodation booking, school letter of acceptance, medical insurance documents and any other relevant documents.
Registering with the immigration authorities
Following your arrival in Ireland, you must register for immigration permission if you intend to stay in the country for more than 90 days.
You can register for immigration permission at your local immigration office. You must visit a registration office before your landing stamp expires and have your immigration permission extended. You will only be able to stay in Ireland for the initial period of 12 months as a volunteer if you register for immigration permission.
When registering for immigration permission you will be issued an Irish Resident Permit (IRP) to stay as a volunteer for an initial 12 month period and you will also be issued with Stamp 3, this indicates permission to stay in Ireland for a specified period, subject to conditions.
How can Total Law help?
If you want to volunteer in Ireland it’s important that you have a visa that permits you to do so. Applying for the Ireland Volunteer Visa can be a complex process, but our lawyers are here to help.
We can provide you with detailed guidance throughout the entire application process. This includes assessing your eligibility for the visa, helping you to complete the application form, gathering your supporting documents and assisting you with registering for immigration permission once you have arrived in Ireland.
Our lawyers will give you the best chance of a successful visa application. We also offer assistance with many other types of Irish visas.
For more information about our Irish immigration services get in touch with our team today on (+353) 061 518 025.
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No, whilst in Ireland, on the Volunteer Visa, you will not be able to apply to change your immigration status.
If you plan to volunteer in Ireland for over 90 days then you are required to hold a Volunteer Visa that allows you to do this. To be granted permission to volunteer in Ireland you must meet the relevant criteria which include being offered a volunteering role by an eligible organisation in an approved sector, having private medical insurance and being fully supported financially by your sponsor.
You can get a visa for volunteering in Ireland by applying online. You will need to fill in the visa application form and you may also be required to have your biometrics taken. As part of your application, you will need to provide relevant documentation to prove that you meet the requirements.
If your visa application is successful then you can travel to Ireland where you will need to finalise your permitted entry with immigration registration.