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Hi I have been accepted to do 4 weeks volunteer work at Kew Gardens. I've been informed that I need a Standard Visitor Visa but I have also read that this visa does not allow unpaid work.

I'm heading over from Australia and just need some clarification on what type of visa I need.

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    Who has informed you that you can do this on a standard visa? – DJClayworth Apr 29 at 15:36
  • @DJClayworth Does it matter? – J... Apr 29 at 17:04
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    It's helpful to know where this inforamtion came from. If it was Kew themselves, who take in many volunteers and have a national reputation, then they probably know what they are talking about and maybe have some special status that allows volunteer working. If it was a friend in a pub then maybe not. – DJClayworth Apr 29 at 17:20
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    @DavidRicherby they (Kew) may be under some misapprehension because volunteering is allowed for all visitors under any visa, so long as the period of volunteer work does not exceed 30 days AND the actual intention of the visit is not to do the volunteer work. gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/… – Moo Apr 29 at 21:54
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    @Moo That sounds quite likely, yes. I've added the relvant quote to my answer. – David Richerby Apr 29 at 22:01
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You need a "Temporary Worker - Charity Worker visa (Tier 5)" to work as a volunteer for a charity, which Kew Gardens basically is.

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    OK, but don't we need to know what Kew actually is? – David Richerby Apr 29 at 15:24
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    @DavidRicherby not really, because if you want to know the details of the series of foundations and charities, I'm sure you could google it. Or ask elsewhere. All the op needs to know for their question is that it fits the definition of charity for the purposes of that visa. – Moo Apr 29 at 19:09
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The UK government website for Standard Visitor Visas explicitly says

You cannot:

  • do paid or unpaid work
  • [some other things]

so that definitely isn't the right visa.

The more detailed guidance says (on page 22):

Volunteering

Appendix 3 allows visitors to undertake volunteering (not voluntary work) provided volunteering is not the main purpose of the visit, it is for a registered charity and will be for no longer than 30 days in total. Where an individual is looking to come to the UK as a visitor specifically to volunteer they must be refused. Volunteering and voluntary workers are provided for in the Tier 5 Charity worker route of the points-based system.

The volunteering is the purpose of your visit (though it is less than 30 days), so you need a Tier 5 visa.

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