volunteer work in liverpool
June 8, 2013 11:24 AM   Subscribe

What are my options for volunteer work as a US citizen who will be staying in the UK for three months this summer (i.e. what are the legal restrictions of doing volunteer work abroad?)

I am an American who will be staying in Liverpool with my (British) boyfriend this summer (on a tourist visa). As one of the most important aspects of my life in the States is the volunteer work I do, I'd really enjoy being able to do some kind of volunteering in the three months I'm abroad. I've looked at some of the positions on volunteeringliverpool.org--and it's a great site, but some positions require CRB checks and I'm assuming as someone who isn't a resident, that may disqualify me from certain positions. Is it even feasible as a traveler to volunteer locally? If so, what kind of work could I do? Obviously, long-term commitments are not possible, but I am willing to commit for the 3 months I am there. My main areas of interest here in the States are working with incarcerated youth and the homeless population (i.e. socially excluded groups), so I'd appreciate something similar to that, but I can also understand if my residency status and lack of long-term commitment options means that's not possible.
posted by apophenia to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total)
Unfortunately, I don't think this is possible.

Volunteering on Tourist visa

Can I volunteer?

You would need to get a Tier 5 visa

(FWIW, it's the same situation for those coming to the US. I think the rationale is even though you are not paid, you are still receiving a 'benefit' which is 'taken away' from someone with the right to work.)
posted by atlantica at 11:57 AM on June 8, 2013

CSV say you can email them to ask about being an International Volunteer (I expect it's complicated).
posted by wilko at 12:07 PM on June 8, 2013

And for what it's worth, regarding non-Europeans, the info page for a large UK organization that uses volunteers says:
The person must make sure that they are allowed to volunteer in addition to their main purpose for entering the UK. On official documents, this will probably be described as ‘unpaid work’, rather than as ‘volunteering’. It is important that individual volunteers take responsibility for this, because, as a worst case scenario, a person could jeopardise their visa status by working or volunteering when they are not allowed to.
.. and you are right to consider that CRB checks will be a major problem for many volunteer positions.
posted by wilko at 12:31 PM on June 8, 2013

(Last comment, honest) Here's a Volunteering England factsheet: Accepting volunteers from outside the UK, which backs up the above, i.e. "someone who is in the UK on a visitor or student visitor visa is not allowed to volunteer".

The risk is more to yourself than to the agency. If you wanted to volunteer somewhere despite the risk, I would guess that the more small/local/informal agencies will be less likely to require their own verification that volunteering is compatible with your visa status. E.g. (and based on my entirely anecdotal and outdated experience), this sort of thing might not involve you needing to show your visa.
posted by wilko at 1:25 PM on June 8, 2013

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