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Calthorpe Project volunteers

Volunteering and International students

Volunteering is a good way to get to know London,  meet new people, and learn new skills. It can also improve your chances of getting paid work. It’s a very popular student activity here at UCL – over 2100 students took part last year, and almost half of these (43%) were international students! Find out more about who participates, and what they thought, here.

The Volunteering Service is here to make volunteering as easy as possible – whether you’re new to volunteering, or have volunteered a lot if the past, we’re confident that we have an activity for you.

Visit our ‘Get Involved’ pages to find out what is on offer.

Volunteering and Visas

If you have the right to work in the UK without restriction – for example, if you have an EU passport – then you will be able to volunteer.

If you have the right to work with restrictions - for example, if you hold a Tier 4 Visa - then you will be able to volunteer. However, if you have a limit on the number of hours you can work, you need to be aware of the UK Border Agency’s definition of ‘voluntary work’ (see below). Any time spent on ‘voluntary work’ will count towards your hours total, whilst any time spent ‘volunteering’ will not.

Virtually all opportunities we have on offer meet the definition of volunteering rather than ‘voluntary work’, so would not count towards you hours total. If you’re in any doubt, please contact us or speak to UCL’s International Student Support before starting.

If you do not have the right to work (for example, if you have a student visitor visa) then you will be able to volunteer, but not undertake ‘voluntary work’ (see the UK Border Agency’s definitions below).

Virtually all opportunities we have on offer meet the definition of volunteering rather than ‘voluntary work’, and so you’d be able to take part. However, it’s vital you contact us or speak to UCL’s International Student Support before starting.

UK Border Agency’s definition of ‘Voluntary Work’ and ‘Volunteering’

Voluntary workers:

  • often have a contract with their employer (this means the employer must provide the work and the voluntary worker must attend at particular times and carry out specific tasks)
  • voluntary workers are also usually remunerated in kind

Volunteers:

  • do not have a contract of employment
  • must not take the place of an employee
  • must not receive payment in kind but reimbursement for reasonable travel and subsistence expenses is allowed
  • usually help a charity or voluntary or public sector organisation

Source - Home Office Documents ‘Short Term Students’ (April 2017) and ‘Tier 4 of the Points Based System – Policy Guidance’ (June 2017)