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Volunteering in Ireland

Volunteering in Ireland

The information below is intended as a guide only, the policy document Volunteering in Ireland outlines all of the relevant criteria for eligibility for this programme.

This Scheme applies to both Visa Required and Non-Visa Required nationals. You must apply before you travel to Ireland. Do not apply under this Scheme if your intended stay in Ireland is for less than 3 months.

What does this Scheme allow me to do?

Permission to remain in Ireland as a volunteer allows you to work in Ireland in a volunteering role with an eligible organisation for up to 2 years (with an option to extend for a third year), subject to the conditions below.

The initial permitted period of residence under this Scheme is 1 year (12 months) and the maximum is 2 years (24 months). You may, for example, spend 24 consecutive months in the State or break the period into two separate lots of 12 months each, separated by time.

Permission to be a volunteer in Ireland allows you to:

  • Work in a volunteering role with an eligible organisation
  • Your role must match the criteria for volunteering described below
  • The organisation must match the criteria for eligibility described below
  • Stay in Ireland for 1 year initially, up to 2 years (with an option to apply for an extension for a third year)
  • Apply to change the organisation you volunteer for once in any 12 month period
  • Travel abroad for short periods (e.g. holidays and attending conferences) and return to Ireland.

With this permission you cannot:

  • Do paid work of any kind
  • Bring any family members with you to Ireland
  • Apply to change your immigration status while in the State
  • Change sponsors more than once in any 12-month permission period while in the State under this Scheme
  • Rely on public services or claim any state benefits e.g. health services, education
  • Spend more than two years on aggregate volunteering in the State

You are eligible to apply under this Scheme if you:

  • Are aged 18 or older
  • Are a non-EU/EEA and non-Swiss citizen
  • Have been offered volunteering work by an eligible organisation
  • Can be fully supported financially for the entire duration of your stay by the organisation that is inviting you to Ireland
  • Our qualified and able to do the activities expected of you
  • Are of good character and good standing, e.g. you can provide a police clearance certificate or equivalent not more than 3 months old
  • Are cleared to work with children and vulnerable adults (if necessary for your role), e.g. you can provide a child clearance certificate from An Garda Síochána (this can be obtained by your sponsor prior to your arrival in Ireland)
  • Have medical insurance from a company authorised by the Health Insurance Authority of Ireland to cover you for the duration of your stay

The work you do as a volunteer must be a structured activity that is undertaken in an approved sector, including (but not limited to):

  • Arts, heritage, culture
  • Out of school education and youth services
  • Religious and faith-based support activities
  • 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, while also bringing benefits to you as a volunteer

Who can I work for?

You must be invited to Ireland by an eligible organisation. An eligible organisation may be either:

  • A non-governmental, not-for-profit, voluntary or charitable body that is already established and active in the State and listed on the Charities Regulator’s Public Register of Charities or
  • A sports organisation that is already established and active in the State and whose national governing body is recognised by Sport Ireland

The eligible organisation that invites you to Ireland is your ‘sponsor’. Your sponsor has important obligations and is responsible for you in several ways. Sponsorship also means that the eligible organisation undertakes

  • to cooperate with the immigration authorities to ensure that the volunteer leaves the State on the expiry of his or her permission, or
  • if directed to do so by immigration authorities, by withdrawing the sponsorship.

Failure to cooperate with immigration authorities in this regard will impact future sponsorship by that eligible organisation.

Before you apply, your sponsor must send you a sponsorship letter and supporting documents. You must submit these documents as part of your application. You will not be granted permission if you do not have sponsorship from an eligible organisation, or if you are sponsored by an organisation that does not match the criteria above.

How to apply?

You can check if you are visa required or not, using the nationality checker.

To apply under this Scheme, you must before you travel to Ireland, apply for a visa or preclearance.

You can apply for a Long Stay (D) visa or Preclearance up to 3 months before your date of travel to Ireland.

You must apply for a visa or preclearance from your home country or a country where you are a legal resident. Proof of residence outside the State may be requested, and the applicant must remain outside the State while their application is being processed.

You will not be permitted entry to the State for the purpose of being a Volunteer by an Immigration Officer at the Border, nor will you be registered in the State

  • Unless you can produce the appropriate preclearance approval letter or a long stay ‘D’ Volunteer Visa.
  • A Preclearance letter and visa allows you to travel to Ireland only for a specific purpose. They do not give you permission to enter the country or to stay here.

An Immigration Officer at border control can refuse you entry even if you have a preclearance letter /long-stay visa.

  • Non-Visa Required nationals will apply for a preclearance letter of approval.
  • Visa Required nationals will apply for a long stay ‘D’ visa. Some visa required nationals will be required to provide biometrics as part of their application.
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