UK Charity Worker Visa
The Charity Worker visa is a legal way to enter the United Kingdom as an unpaid employee to stay in the country for up to a year. In this article, we’re going to explain how the UK volunteer visa works and what you might need to apply for it.
What is a Charity Worker visa?
The Charity Worker visa is a subtype of the UK Temporary Worker visa. Known as the Tier 5 Charity Worker visa until recently, this document allows foreign citizens who plan to do voluntary work in the country to enter the UK and stay for up to 12 months. This kind of visa applies only to temporary work: you can’t accept any permanent position while staying in the country, and you will be required to leave the UK before it expires.
To be eligible for a Charity Worker visa, you must have a work offer from a UK-based business of a suitable position that matches certain requirements. It must be a vacancy that wouldn’t normally be offered for a wage, and it must contribute directly to the sponsor’s charitable purpose. This work can’t include positions in administration, retail, or fundraising. There are also numerous other requirements for a person planning to apply for the UK Charity Worker visa:
- you are at least 18 years old;
- you have an official Certificate of Sponsorship issued by a UK-based charity entity with a valid Sponsorship Licence;
- you are actually planning to do charity work in the UK as stated in your application;
- you can support yourself financially for the period of your stay — you might be asked to prove it by showing at least £1,270 on your bank account.
The requirements may vary depending on your role and other circumstances. You may want to consult with immigration lawyers to learn more about your eligibility.
How to apply for a visa?
You can apply for a visa up to three months before the date of your expected arrival. You can apply for it online by using the form on the official gov.uk website. Prepare to verify your identity by providing your passport: you can do this online by scanning the document and sending it to the authorities if you are an EEA national, or otherwise by visiting a visa centre to have your biometric details taken. Once you’ve applied for a visa, you will usually receive a decision in three weeks. If you’re already in the country, the time period can be increased up to eight weeks or more.
While your application is the most important step to receive your visa, the Home Office may ask you to provide a variety of additional documents to prove that you comply with the requirements. Such documents may include:
- a passport or another official document that proves your identity;
- a bank statement to prove you have enough money to live in the UK;
- fresh results of your tuberculosis test (for people arriving from certain countries).
However, this list is not exhaustive: the officials may ask for any other documents as well if they find it necessary. The actual list of documents depends on your situation.
Conditions of stay
A valid Charity Worker visa allows you to stay in the UK for the time period defined by your Certificate of Sponsorship plus two weeks, but no more than 12 months. If you want to stay for longer or work for a salary, you should choose other options instead. You can enter the UK up to 14 days before the first day of your work. While in the country, you can perform your charity work, apply for a second job, and even study. However, you cannot receive any money for your work, and you can’t take a permanent job. You won’t have access to public funds either.
When you are applying for your Charity Worker UK visa, you and each of your family members (including children) will have to pay the application fee of £298. This amount stays the same even if you are applying from inside the country. If your visa will last for more than 6 months, you will also be charged with a healthcare surcharge of normally £624 per year of the visa.
Keep in mind that you will often also need to have some money in your bank account to show that you will be able to support yourself and your family during your stay. However, there is no requirement to spend this amount of money on living in the UK and you do not need to keep the amount constant throughout your stay, meaning that it’s not actually a fee.
How to bring your family?
Your partner and children can also apply for a visa and live in the country as your dependants. If their visa application is successful, you’ll share the same end date. However, your family members must be eligible for a visa and comply with certain requirements. You must prove that you are married to or in a civil partnership with your partner or otherwise have lived with them for at least two years prior to your application. If you want to bring your children over 16 with you, they must live with you and rely on your financial support. To prove this, you might be asked to provide any kind of document, including proof of address or a letter from their school.
If you want to bring your family with you, you and your partner are required to have some additional funds for each of your family members which is sufficient for their financial support:
- £285 for your partner;
- £312 for one child;
- £200 for each additional child.
These amounts add up: for example, if you want to bring your partner and a child, you’ll have to prove that your family has at least £1,867 on your account.
There are circumstances where you and your family do not need to meet financial requirements, including where you have all been living in the UK for 12 months before the application to remain in the UK, or where your sponsoring company commits to supporting you financially.
How can we help?
When you’re thinking about working for a UK charity project, we’re always happy to help. Our experts are knowledgeable and experienced regarding the UK immigration rules and can help you apply for a Charity Worker visa with ease. You’ll always get the best results if you bring your case to Sterling Law, an innovative law firm in London.