The Charity Worker visa allows you to volunteer for a year in the UK. As well as being a volunteer, you can also study and take up a second job of the same nature as your volunteer work.
The temporary worker visa for charitable works
The Charity Worker Visa is a sub-category of the UK Temporary Worker Visa. This visa is for those intending to carry out voluntary unpaid work in the UK and has recently replaced the Tier 5 Charity Worker visa.
The Charity Worker Visa route allows you to stay in the UK for up to 12 months, or the time shown on your Certificate of Sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter. If you wish to work in the UK for a longer period or if you wish to carry out paid work whilst in the UK, you should consider one of the other work visas.
Charity Worker Visa Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for the Charity Worker visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be over 18 years old.
- You must have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) reference number from your sponsor in the UK. The certificate of sponsorship is valid for three months, so you must use it to apply for the visa within this period.
- You must have at least £1,270 in your bank account to support yourself financially. This sum of money must be available for 28 consecutive days. You do not need to meet this eligibility requirement if:
- You have been in the UK on a valid visa for at least a year.
- Your sponsor will cover you during the first month with at least £1,270.
- You cannot get this visa if you have been granted a religious worker or charity worker visa in the last year.
The documents required for the charity worker visa
To apply for a charity worker visa you need to collect the following documents:
- The reference number of your sponsorship certificate.
- A valid passport with a blank visa page.
- Proof of your relationship with your partner and your children if you bring them.
- Bank statements or other documents as evidence of sufficient personal funds.
- You may also need to submit other documents, depending on your situation.
- You must provide a certified translation of documents that are not in English or Welsh.
Application fees may vary depending on your specific situation and circumstances. Generally, fees associated with the Charity Worker Visa include:
- £259 visa application fee
- Around £19 for biometric information
- At least at least £1,270 in personal savings
- £624 per year Immigration Health Supplement
If your dependents join you, each family member will need to pay the visa application fee and immigration health care fee
Processing times for applying for a charity worker visa usually take up to 3 weeks after applying from outside the UK.
Since processing times are not guaranteed, we recommend that you wait to plan your trip until your visa application is approved.
In some cases, the processing of your application may be delayed due to incomplete information.
Having a qualified immigration consultant review your application before submission can ensure it is complete and minimize the chances of delay or rejection.
How to apply for a charity worker visa?
To apply for the Charity Worker visa you need:
- Fill out the online application form. You must provide the data in English. To apply successfully you need your employer’s CoS reference number.
- Submit the requested documents. Uploaded documents must be scanned files or photos. They must be PDF, JPG, PNG or JPEG.
- Pay the required fees. You must pay the health surcharge (£624) and registration fee (£259) online.
- Book an appointment at a visa application center. You can find a VAC by checking the ‘Find a Visa Application Centre’ section on GOV.UK. When you apply online you must make an appointment at a visa application center to provide your biometric information.
- Provide supporting documents. You may be asked to provide additional documents when you attend your appointment. You can submit them when you show up for your appointment or when you apply online.
Obtaining a biometric residence permit
You will be granted a biometric residence permit (BRP) after submitting your biometric information to a visa application centre. You must collect the BRP upon arrival in the UK. The BRP proves your identity and right to stay and study in the UK.
What is the processing time for the charity worker visa?
Once you have applied online and provided the required documents for the Charity Worker Visa, it will take approximately three weeks for your application to be processed if you are applying from outside the UK. If you apply from the UK, you must wait eight weeks to get a decision on your visa.
Can I bring dependents with the Charity Worker Visa?
The Charity Worker visa allows you to bring dependents to the UK. You must prove your kinship to the family members you bring. Eligible dependents are:
- Your husband, your wife, your civil partner or your unmarried partner.
- Your child under 18 who is already in the UK as your dependent child.
- Your child under the age of 18.
To bring dependents, you must demonstrate your relationship with them. You must demonstrate that:
- You have a civil partnership or marriage recognized in the UK.
- At the time of application you have been living with your partner for at least two years.
- Your child must live with you.
- Your child must not have children, be in a civil partnership or married.
- Your child has to rely on you financially.
If your child lives with you, you must submit proof of his or her address:
- Credit card bills
- Driver’s license
- Registration document for the National Health Service
- A bank statement
- An official letter from their university or college
What happens if my charity worker visa is denied?
In the event that your charity worker visa is denied, you may be able to request an administrative review to take a second look at the decision. However, submitting a new application may be a quicker solution.
An immigration lawyer can advise you on the best steps to take if your visa has been denied. Typically, denial is caused by the applicant not meeting eligibility requirements, such as showing proof of minimum wage or working for a properly licensed employer.
Applications may also be delayed or rejected if they contain incomplete or incorrect information.
What type of work can I do while on a charity worker visa?
The work you are allowed to participate in while on a Temporary Worker Charity Worker Visa is unpaid volunteer work that directly supports your sponsor’s charitable purpose. Holders of charity worker visas cannot receive payment for their work in the UK.
If you plan to receive payment for work while in the UK, there are other UK visas that will allow you to take paid temporary work. You will need additional documents and will be required to meet eligibility requirements for the visa you are applying for. An immigration lawyer can help you navigate this process and select the correct visa for your situation.
What are the requirements for the certificate of sponsorship?
To be eligible for a charity worker visa, you will need to be issued a certificate of sponsorship by a Home Office class A sponsor.
- A certificate of sponsorship is not a physical certificate or paper document. Rather, it is a digital document.
- In addition to having an A rating, your sponsor must have permission to sponsor workers under the specific Charity Worker route.
- The certificate of sponsorship should confirm some details of your work, such as working hours, the nature of the work and whether it complies with the eligibility criteria set by the visa requirements.
- Your certificate of sponsorship will be valid for three months from the date of issue. You must ensure that you apply for your visa within this period, otherwise your visa application may not be approved.