Work permits and volunteering abroad

Visa's and work permit for volunteering abroad

 Few people consider before searching for their volunteer experience that they might be needing a work permit or special entry visa and in some cases get deported out of the country not being able to return this country for a very long time (if ever).
It is still widely believed by many that volunteering in most countries can be done without a work permit. This is especially the case for volunteers who are from the United States of America, Canada, the European Union countries, Australia and New Zealand as they are used to be able to enter most countries for travelling without needing a special entry visa.

For example for a person from the United Kingdom it is very easy to enter Canada as a tourist and receive a 6 months visitor stamp in your passport. Some think that after entering Canada they are then allowed to start volunteering as a visitor up to six.

Canadian Immigration is however very clear on this in almost all cases volunteering requires a work permit even if you are unpaid and volunteering at a charity. One of the few exceptions is for example if you volunteer for religious purposes but even then a work permit might be required.

Any volunteer work with wildlife, people, ranches, farms, charities in Canada does require a work permit.  As part of our service and program fees we assist our volunteers with the work permit application and we have had a 100% success rate.
Even when volunteering in Guyana a work permit is required. However as Guyana has very few embassies abroad all volunteer work permits are applied for after arrival in Guyana. We make this very simple for our volunteers and they are not involved in the process (most likely the work permit will not be received until the volunteer is already back home).

Of course there are other countries who do not require a work permit to volunteer abroad which in some cases can be purely because there is no alternative for volunteers in place like in Canada. Some other countries will allow volunteering without a work permit only for a few specific countries for a certain maximum duration (the length of your visitor visa in most cases).
It is therefore highly recommend that you do some research before you volunteer abroad as being rejected at the border is not only costly but also a very unpleasant experience.

If you would like to go abroad and join a volunteer opportunity feel free to contact us regarding any visa related questions.

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