A Guide to Volunteering for International Students

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Why Volunteer?

Volunteering is an integral part of life at Brunel, it’s a great way to meet new people, develop new skills and experience British culture outside of the University. Brunel University London strives to offer volunteering opportunities suitable for all students, however, there are certain exceptions where your choices may be restricted because of the limitations within the study visa you hold.

Am I Allowed to Volunteer?

If you are studying at Brunel and have come from outside the EU you will need to check your visa or entry clearance conditions to make sure that you are allowed to volunteer whilst studying. Sometimes volunteering is described as ‘unpaid work’ in this documentation. It’s very important that you check this as you could jeopardise your visa status by volunteering if you are not allowed to.

Tier 4 Visa

UKBA guidance on international students volunteering is ambiguous and offers a very open definition of unpaid employment (voluntary work) and volunteering. In order to protect your best interests we are offer the following advice to students who hold a Tier 4 Visa:

If you hold a Tier 4 Visa it should be ok for you to volunteer, but during term time there is a limit of the number of hours per week that you can work or volunteering during term time as specified on your visa. This is normally 20 hours per week but make sure you check your visa requirements. The 20 work restrictions include both work and voluntary, For example, you could take part in a combination of 5 hours volunteering and 15 hours paid work = 20 hours.

Term-Time only

All Tier 4 students do have a restriction to how many hours they can work during term time. The number of hours is determined their course and is specified on their visa.

Term time is defined by the University and is based on the course and level students are studying. Students and staff should always be referred to the Rights to Work guidance on the Intranet

It’s your responsibility to ensure that you do not go over your weekly visa restrictions. Your passport visa stamp should identify any work restrictions you may have – if you are in any doubt don’t hesitate to contact us.

Student Visitor Visa 

If you hold a student visitor visa, you are not permitted to volunteer or work whilst you are studying at Brunel.

Please note that this is not a complete account of the UK Immigration Rules, for more information please visit the UKCISA website or Gov.uk website. If you would like further advice please visit the Student Centre to speak to an advisor.

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