Visa Guidance for International Students

Volunteering and International students

Volunteering is a good way to get to know Aberdeen, 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 RGU – with over 28,000 hours volunteered in 2017/18 alone.

RGU: Unions Student Development and Volunteering Coordinator is here to make volunteering as easy as possible, whether you’re new to volunteering, or have volunteered a lot in the past, we’re confident that we have an activity for you.

Log into our website using your RGU student log in 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 or participate in voluntary work.

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. Any time spent on ‘voluntary work’ will count towards the total number of hours you are permitted to work during term-time, whilst any time spent ‘volunteering’ will not. (Please see the “Short Term Student and Tier 4 Guide below for more detail)

Virtually all opportunities we have on offer meet the definition of volunteering rather than ‘voluntary work’, so would not count towards the total number of hours you are permitted to work during term-time. If you’re in any doubt, please contact us before starting.

If you are on a Short term study visa then you are allowed to volunteer but you are not permitted to undertake any voluntary work.

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 before starting.

 

Volunteering Vs. Voluntary Work

Volunteering does not count towards your maximum 10 or 20 hours if it meets the definition of volunteering in the Tier 4 policy guidance (paragraph 328):

Students who are volunteering do not have a contract, they must not be a substitute for an employee and they must not be doing unpaid work – i.e. receiving payment in kind (although they are sometimes reimbursed for reasonable travel and subsistence expenses). Volunteers usually help a charity or voluntary or public sector organisation.

Any other kind of unpaid or voluntary work that does not meet this definition will count towards your weekly 10 or 20 hours maximum.

 

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)
  • • 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

 

The most recent Tier 4 Policy Guidance (July 2018) states: 

Can I volunteer while I am studying?

326. Tier 4 (General) students and Tier 4 (Child) students can volunteer while they are studying. Voluntary work is distinct from volunteering.

327. If you are a Tier 4 (General) student you can do voluntary work if you are permitted to work, but this work and any other (e.g. paid) work that you do must not exceed the number of hours you are permitted to work during term time. For example, if you can work for 20 hours during term time and have paid work of 15 hours a week during term time, you cannot do more than 5 hours’ voluntary work per week. If you are not permitted to work, you cannot do voluntary work. Tier 4 (Child) students aged 16 and over can undertake voluntary work.

328. Factors that may be taken into account when considering whether it is voluntary work or volunteering are:

Voluntary workers will usually have contractual obligations to perform the work (e.g. to attend at particular times and carry out specific tasks) with the employer being contractually required to provide the work – the contract does not have to be written. The worker is usually remunerated in kind.

• Students who are volunteering do not have a contract, they must not be a substitute for an employee and they must not be doing unpaid work – i.e. receiving payment in kind (although they are sometimes reimbursed for reasonable travel and subsistence expenses). Volunteers usually help a charity or voluntary or public-sector organisation.

 

Source - Home Office Documents ‘Short Term Students’ (July 2018) and ‘Tier 4 of the Points Based System – Policy Guidance’ (July 2018)

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