working as volunteer on F1 visa

Discussion in 'General F Visa and Related Issues' started by techy2468, Jan 5, 2008.

  1. techy2468

    techy2468 Registered Users (C)

    Is working as volunteer(off-campus) on F1 visa considered as legal ?

    or I need to take approval from my school i.e. ISSS?
  2. elcupacabras

    elcupacabras Registered Users (C)

    I could be wrong, but Im sure that you can volunteer as long as what you are volunteering as isnt something that an American could be paid for EG, volunteering serving in a soup kitchen = acceptable
    volunteering in an office sorting out files/internship activities = not acceptable (it can reasonably be assumed that an American could be paid to sort files, whereas an American would not be paid to serve food to the homeless) Hope that makes sense.
  3. nscagony

    nscagony Registered Users (C)

    No, its not acceptable in either case, unfortunately. Anything an American COULD be paid for you cannot do. Even in a soup kitchen an American COULD be paid for it.
  4. techy2468

    techy2468 Registered Users (C)

    just want to make myself 100% clear, volunteer work is considered illegal on F 1 visa?
  5. greencardmaze

    greencardmaze Registered Users (C)

    what about volunteering in a hopital???? they need volunteers, and there is a waiting list pf people who want to volunteer there.... can an F1 student do that?? advice would be appretiated... thanks!!
  6. nscagony

    nscagony Registered Users (C)

    No. Any job an american _MIGHT_ be paid for is illegal, even if for that particular position no salary is offered. Also, jobs that in any way qualify you further (i.e. work experience in a hospital) are illegal. In other words for F1 student no work is legal except specifically authorized (i.e. on campus or OPT/CPT).
  7. Concerned4us

    Concerned4us Banned

    You need to speak with the International Students office.

    I know many university programs require volunteer work as part of the program; many of the student organizations also volunteer in the community. The problem comes where volunteering can be interpreted as working for free. I think some of the replys may be interpreting the rules too strictly but do not know where the dividing line is. Obviously, if the university requires the volunteering component of the program, it must be possible in accordance with the limitations of the F1 visa.

    By the way, thanks for the thought! Volunteeers are always needed.
  8. nscagony

    nscagony Registered Users (C)

    If your degree requires a work component, the University will explicitly authorize you to do it. So concerned4us is right, talk to the international center.
  9. Feb08Filer

    Feb08Filer Registered Users (C)

    nope. I worked in an Investment bank as an Intern on voluntary basis. The only criteria my School's international office said was that the internship should be stipulated as a non-paid position - which investment banks are famous for. using unpaid labor for all their gruntwork :)

    Scores of Americans were working there unpaid also. so as far as I understand you can do anything, as long as you're not being compensated for it (be that monetary or in-kind compensation)
  10. Feb08Filer

    Feb08Filer Registered Users (C)

    Volunteering is almost the only thing on F-1 visa that you CAN do without complications. You don't need permission from anybody to do volunteering anything. Nobody can tell you at the end of the day what you can / cannot do with your free time. if you want to use it to do volunteer work, then go for it.
    I've been on F-1 visa since 2002. I've pretty much done it all by now. Worked on-campus, worked as an UNPAID intern at the investment bank for almost a year. and then didn't work at all sometimes (which was worst of all - the boredom was the big killer) so I see why you would want to keep busy.

    it's easy to interpret the rules far too strictly, or even far too loosely, but volunteering is a way to spend your free time. You could spend it jogging, flying kites, or hanging around helping out in some office. what's the difference ... it's how you like to spend your free time.

    If I had the stomach for it, I would have walked dogs for the SPCA for the past few years, but my heart cannot handle seeing the dogs in cages
  11. GotPR?

    GotPR? Registered Users (C)

    Volunteering you are allowed to is only real volunteer work. Any productive work without pay is not considered volunteer and is illegal unless you have work permit.
    I heard it on one of the conf calls with Mr. Khanna last year.
  12. Feb08Filer

    Feb08Filer Registered Users (C)

    Then in that case I apologise for not only my own, but also the ignorance of those who allowed me to do my Unpaid Internship in 2006.
  13. Concerned4us

    Concerned4us Banned

    An unpaid internship may be considered a component of your educational program.

    I believe that there may be a misunderstanding about all "unpaid" being "volunteer".

    I would think that working on a Habitat for Humanity house or at a house of worship would be acceptable as "volunteer" work.

    Working unpaid for a company outside of an authorized school program in order to get a position or bridge the cap gap is not acceptable. This is not an intership.

    When in doubt, the international student office is your best source of information . They can contact the university's attorneys if they need clarification on a specific situation.

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