I'll be visiting friends in the UK for 2 weeks (and then going back home to the US). They've invited me to volunteer with a childrens' summer camp for a week as I'm an educator in the States.

I'd be happy to volunteer at their camp, but I'm not sure if I need to apply for a visa. As a US citizen with a passport I know I can stay in the UK for up to 6 months, but I'm only visiting for 2 weeks and hoping to volunteer for 5 days. Do I need to apply for a visa, and could anyone give me a clue as to which one?


  • 1
    gov.uk/tier-5-temporary-worker-charity-worker-visa. No you need a visa – Augustine of Hippo May 19 '19 at 21:48
  • 2
    If you're working with children you'll almost certainly need a CRB check or a police certificate confirming that you've not been found guilty of various child-related crimes. – user90371 May 19 '19 at 22:27
  • 1
    Could you clarify if "They've invited me to volunteer" means that they invited you to come to the UK for the purpose of volunteering (which is how I read it) or that they said "since you'll be here anyway, you could volunteer". That could affect whether the volunteering is "incidental" and therefore allowed. – David Richerby May 19 '19 at 23:25

Appendix V to the immigration rules says:

Visitors Appendix 3. Permitted activities for all visitors


4 A visitor may undertake incidental volunteering (i.e. the main purpose of the visit is not to volunteer), provided it lasts no more than 30 days in total and is for a charity that is registered with either the Charity Commission for England and Wales; the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland; or the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

This applies to anybody on a Standard Visitor Visa and anybody from a visa-exempt country, such as the USA, who is visiting the UK without a visa. It sounds like volunteering is the main purpose of your visit, so I think you need a Tier 5 Temporary Worker – Charity Worker visa.

  • 4
    Why do you conclude volunteering is the main purpose of the OP's visit? The trip was described as "visiting friends," and the volunteering looks like it was offered only after the trip was in place, and for less time than the whole duration of the trip. This sounds more like "incidental" as described in Appendix V. – DavidSupportsMonica May 19 '19 at 23:16
  • 1
    @David I understood the asker's second sentence as meaning "They invited me to the UK for the purpose of volunteering." I suppose you interpreted it as "Since I'm visiting, they invited me to volunteer, too", which I hadn't thought of, but which seems possible. In that case, I'm not sure if it would be "incidental" or not. Five days out of two weeks seems like quite a significant fraction. I've asked for a clarification. – David Richerby May 19 '19 at 23:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.