Volunteer Visa

*Please Note: As and from the 30 April 2018, those foreign nationals from non-EEA countries wishing to visit Ireland as a Volunteer must apply for immigration preclearance called the Permission to Volunteer. Also, those foreign nationals from Non-EEA countries who are required to have a visa before entering Ireland must apply for a Volunteer Visa after being awarded the Permission to Volunteer preclearance.

To check if you need a Visa please Click Here

To Apply for a Volunteer Visa please Click Here

**Please Note: Those foreign nationals resident in countries where biometrics are recorded as part of the visa application process must make their visa application at the same time that they make their Permission to Volunteer application, and have their biometric details recorded . The countries where biometrics are currently recorded are China, India, Pakistan and Nigeria.

When you have completed the online visa application process, you must follow the instructions on the summary application form that is created by the online system. The summary form will contain information on where you are to submit your passport. If you have already submitted all the required supporting documentation with your Preclearance application, you will not need to submit the documentation again for the visa application. You will just need to submit your visa application form and your passport.

***Please Note: Do not apply for this if your stay in Ireland is for less than 3 months.

About the Permission to Volunteer

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 Ireland or break the period into two separate lots of 12 months each, separated by time. If you are currently in the State on this permission, transitional arrangements will apply. Please see the policy document for further details.

****Please Note: You must apply for your Permission to Volunteer and Volunteer Visa (if required) before you travel to Ireland. Applicants must be resident outside of Ireland when making an application for permission to come to work as a Volunteer for a period longer than 90 days. Proof of residence may be requested, and the applicant must remain outside Ireland while their application is being processed. You will not be permitted entry by an Immigration Officer at the Border, for the purpose of working as a long stay Volunteer, unless you can produce a Preclearance Approval Letter which is awarded if your application to the Permission to Volunteer is successful.

Permission to be a volunteer in Ireland allows you to:

  • Work in a volunteering role with an eligible organisation
    1. Your role must match the criteria for volunteering described below
    2. The organisation must match the criteria for eligibility described below
  • Stay in Ireland for 1 year initially, up to of 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

Eligibility and conditions

You are eligible for permission to be a Volunteer 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
  • Are 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

Volunteering work you can do:

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 you 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 on 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.

Clearance to work with children /vulnerable adults:

You must be in possession of a clean police record (documentary evidence, including a current (not more than 3 months old) criminal records check and police clearance certificate from your home country or certified English language translation of a criminal records check and police clearance certificate.

You must be, where the work demands it, cleared to work with children and vulnerable adults (verification will be required). This has to be sourced locally in Ireland through An Garda Síochána and you will not be permitted to work with children and vulnerable adults until such clearance is received.

Medical Insurance:

You must be covered by private medical insurance, from a company authorised by the Health Insurance Authority for the duration of your time in the State. Your sponsor may include you in their group insurance scheme. Travel insurance may suffice but only during the first year of your stay provided it covers you:

  • For the full period before you arrange private medical insurance
  • At a minimum of €25,000 for accident and €25,000 for illness and disease and
  • For any period of hospitalisation
  • In addition, it is advisable that applicants have insurance to cover repatriation in the event of serious illness or unforeseen events.

Documents Required

Your Permission to Volunteer preclearance application will not be processed if you do not attach all the supporting documentation required (listed below). If you submit false or misleading information or false supporting documentation as part of your application, it will result in the refusal of your application. It may also result in you being prevented from making any further applications for a period of up to 5 years. The Preclearance Section reserve the right to request the originals at any time. The Preclearance Officer may also request further information outside of the list below, where it is deemed necessary.

Letters from companies, universities, schools, colleges, banks, must be on official letter heading paper and show the organisation’s: Full name, Full postal address, Telephone number, Website address, Email address (Yahoo and Hotmail email addresses are not accepted), A contact person’s name and title/position, Written signature of an authorised representative (electronic signature are not accepted)

  1. A full colour copy of current passport (all pages)
  2. Letter of sponsorship from your sponsoring organisation
    • This should be on headed paper from your sponsor and must include full contact details, including for example website, email, phone number. (Yahoo and Hotmail email addresses are not accepted; electronic signatures are not accepted)
    • It must detail your intended role in the State and it must demonstrate why you are needed for the role.
    • It must show how they intend to support you in the State
  3. Full six months bank statement
    • Bank statements must be on headed bank paper (You may use a printed internet statement but it must be officially certified by your bank. We will not accept uncertified internet statements),
    • They must show your name and address
    • They must show the bank account number and account type, for example checking/current account, savings/deposit account
    • They must show money paid in and out of the account over the last 6 months
  4. Full six months bank statement from the sponsor.
    • Audited accounts of the sponsor should be available if required by the immigration authorities
  5. Evidence of your qualifications and/or work/volunteer experience
    • Copies of qualifications
    • Letters from previous employers on headed paper (following rules for documents above) with details of job title, duties, and dates of employment/volunteering should be submitted.
    • Please note that a CV/resume is not considered evidence of work/volunteer experience.
  6. Police Clearance Certificate (not more than three months old, to also include a criminal records check) from your country of current residence and any country you have resided in, in the 3 years prior to your application. This must be issued by the police force of that country and must include a full check of that country’s national and local records. Criminal record checks conducted by private companies will not be accepted.
  7. Confirmation from your sponsor they have obtained Garda Síochána vetting for you if you will be working in a role involving children and/or vulnerable adults. A Garda Vetting certificate will need to be submitted as part of your application.
    • If Garda Vetting is not submitted, then there must be a clear written undertaking from the sponsoring organisation, in the sponsorship letter accompanying the application, that you will have no involvement with children or vulnerable adults during the course of your work in Ireland.
  8. You must be in a position to show evidence of medical/travel insurance for you, which covers the required amounts, when arriving in the state.
  9. If you have previously been refused a visa, or deported from, or otherwise were required to leave any country, you will need to submit the associated documentation from the authorities of that country.

*****Please Note: If you submit a document that is not in Irish or English, it must be accompanied by a full translation into one of these languages. Each translated document must contain:

  • Confirmation from the translator that it is accurate translation of the original document
  • Date of the translation
  • The translator’s full name and signature
  • The translator’s contact details

If your application is approved

You will be notified if your application is approved, and will be sent your Permission to Volunteer preclearance letter. Your Preclearance letter is an important document and you will need it to cross border control into Ireland and to finalise your permission to enter the State as a Volunteer and with immigration registration after you arrive here.

The Preclearance letter is valid for 6 months. If you do not use it within that time you must submit a new application.

If your application is refused

You will be notified by letter if your application is refused outlining the reasons why your application was refused. You can request an appeal of this decision by responding to the refusal reasons with extra supporting documents if required. This appeal must be received within six weeks of the date of the refusal letter. The appeal process is free of charge.

Appeal of the decision

If your appeal is approved, you will be sent your Permission to Volunteer preclearance letter as described above. If your appeal is refused, you will be sent a letter outlining the reasons. You cannot request another appeal. Do not attempt to come to Ireland without preclearance approval (and a visa if relevant) as you will not be allowed enter the country.

Border Control

When you arrive in Ireland, you must show your original preclearance letter (and visa, if applicable) to the Immigration Officer at border control. If you cannot satisfy the Immigration Officer, you will not be allowed to enter the State. Both the letter and the visa must be valid on the date you arrive here. If you are given permission to enter, the officer will place a ‘landing stamp’ in your passport. The landing stamp gives you permission to stay up to the date indicated by the stamp (typically 90 days).

Registering When Arriving

After you enter the country, you must visit a INIS registration office before your ‘landing stamp’ expires to get your Irish Residence Permit (IRP) and to

  1. Extend your permission to stay as a volunteer for longer than 90 days, and to
  2. Register your details with Immigration

To book your INIS appointment with an immigration officer if you live in Dublin please Click Here

If you live outside Dublin you will need to register at your nearest local immigration office. To locate your nearest local immigration office please Click Here

Here you will be issued an IRP to stay as a Volunteer for an initial 12 month period and issued with a Stamp 3.

Stamp 3

Stamp 3 indicates permission to stay in Ireland for a specified period, subject to conditions. Stamp 3 is reckonable as residence when applying for citizenship by naturalisation.

Summary of conditions

  • You cannot work or engage in any business, trade or profession.
  • If you wish to stay in Ireland past the expiry date of your immigration permission, you must apply to renew your permission and registration before they expire.

Examples when used:

You may be given Stamp 3 if you have permission to:

  • Volunteer, eg with a charity or non-profit
  • Be a minister of religion
  • Join your non-EEA/EU/Swiss spouse/civil partner or family member who is here based on a work permit
  • Other

Prepare the documents you need:

You must bring the following when you go to register:

  • Your passport
  • Proof that you have private medical insurance
  • Proof that you have access to enough money to support yourself
  • An original letter of sponsorship (see notes below)

If any of these are missing, your permission cannot be extended and you will not be registered.

Cost & payment:

You must pay a fee of €300 per person to register. You can pay by:

  • Bank giro: A giro is a pre-printed form and can be collected from any registration office
  • Credit/debit card: These can be used at Burgh Quay Registration Office and some others

Lost or stolen Irish Residence Permit (IRP)

You must contact your local immigration office if your IRP is lost or stolen who will then investigate and (if necessary) prepare a replacement for you for free.

Update or modify your registration details

You must contact your local INIS to update your registration if your personal details or circumstances change, for example:

  • You change your home/postal address
  • Your activity in Ireland changes, eg your volunteer position ends
  • We made an error, eg we misspelled your name
  • Other details change, eg you change your name/gender

In some cases, you may issued with a new IRP.

Extend your Permission to Volunteer

You may be eligible for one extension of the standard 2 year period of a further 1 year. Such a request can only be made with your current sponsor and will be considered only if your sponsor can demonstrate a genuine need of your service.

Ask your sponsor to write you a new sponsorship letter explaining why they want you to stay and include the proof of application fee payment. This can only be paid by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). Please see details of how to make this payment in the document EFT details on how to renew your Permission to Volunteer

Send the new sponsorship letter plus the documents to renew your permission/registration by post to:

Unit 2

Domestic Residence and Permissions Division

13/14 Burgh Quay

Dublin 2

DO2XK70

Change your sponsoring organisation

To change to another Volunteer position in a different organisation, you must apply to your local INIS and pay a fee of €50. Please check with your local INIS regarding method of payment when making the application.

You will not gain extra time to stay in Ireland if you re-apply. You can only work as a Volunteer in Ireland for a normal maximum of 2 years total, no matter how many times you apply. If you choose you can break the normal 2 year period of permission/registration into separate periods e.g. 2 separate periods of 1 year.