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UK Charity Worker Visa Requirements and Application

What is a Charity Worker visa?

The UK Charity Worker sometimes referred to as a volunteer visa UK, which replaced the Tier 5 Charity Worker visa (T5 Charity Worker UK), is a short-term temporary work visa that allows overseas nationals to work in the UK’s charitable sector. Anyone who is considering volunteer work or carrying out voluntary activities in the UK must apply for a UK charity Worker visa before traveling here.

If granted a UK Charity Worker visa, you will be able to stay in the UK for up to 12 months or on time granted on your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) plus 14 days. The rules also state that you can enter the UK up to 14 days before you start your charitable role.

As a Charity Worker visa holder, in addition to doing the charitable work stated on your CoS, you will be able to study, do a second job in the same sector as your main role, and bring your partner and children with you to the UK. However, you will not be able to receive payment for the work you do, claim public funds such as universal credit or other benefits, or take up a permanent job.

For overseas nationals who wish to work in paid employment in the UK, there is a wide range of long and short-work visas available. Long-term paid work visas include the Skilled Worker visa, Health and Care Worker visa, High Potential Individual visa (HPI), and the Global Talent visa. Short-term temporary paid work visa options include the Seasonal Worker visa, Government Authorised Exchange visa, Creative Worker visa, Religious Worker visa, and the International Agreement visa.

Tier 5 / Charity Worker visa extension

The Tier 5 Charity Worker visa and UK Charity Worker visa can be extended from within the UK as long as you do not exceed the maximum length of stay of 12 months.

UK Charity Worker Visa Requirements

To make a successful UK Charity Worker visa application, you must:

  • be 18 years or over
  • have a Certificate of Sponsorship (Cos) from a charitable organisation in the UK (please note, your sponsor must be an approved Home Office sponsor licence holder), and
  • have at least £1,270 to support yourself while in the UK – these funds must have been held by you for at least 28 days. Alternatively, you can ask your employer to support you and to prove this, your CoS will need to include the words “‘sponsor certifies maintenance”.

How to Apply for Charity Worker Visa UK

To apply for a UK Charity Worker Visa UK, you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Complete and submit the online UK Charity Worker visa application form1 - this can be submitted up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work here, but no earlier
  2. Pay the application fee of £259 and the healthcare surcharge of £624 per year – the immigration healthcare surcharge gives you access to the National Health Service (NHS) if you require any form of medical care or treatment during your time in the UK
  3. Use the UK Immigration: ID Check mobile phone app to prove your identity, or book and attend an appointment at your nearest visa application centre (VAC) – you will be advised what to do when you submit your online application
  4. Provide any documents requested by the Home Office – these may include:
    1. your CoS reference number provided by your employer
    2. your passport or another document that proves shows your identity and nationality
    3. evidence that you have at least £1,270 in savings to support yourself in the UK – or a CoS that states your employer will support you
    4. proof of your relationship with your dependants (i.e. your partner and/or children), and
    5. your tuberculosis (TB) test results (this is only required for nationals of certain countries)

Once you have completed the above steps, you can expect to receive a final decision on your case from the Home Office within just 3 weeks. You may also be offered the option to pay to use the priority processing services for a faster decision.

Bringing your Family Members on a Charity Worker Visa

As a Charity Worker visa holder, you can bring your family (your partner and/or children) with you on a UK family visa.

To bring your partner to the UK, they must be your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner. To qualify for the unmarried partner visa, you must have been together for at least 2 years before the date of application.

To bring your children to the UK, they must be under 18 (unless they are currently in the UK as your dependant) and be financially reliant on you. If your child is 16 or over, the Home Office will ask to see proof that they live with you (the exception being if they live elsewhere for university or boarding school), are not married or in a civil partnership, and you will financially support them while in the UK. Your dependants will also need to provide evidence of sufficient funds when applying for a visa – £285 for your partner, £315 for one child, and £200 for each additional child.

When applying for a dependant visa, each family member who will join you in the UK will need to submit their own application to the Home Office and pay the visa and healthcare fees. They will also need to include your Global Web Form (GWF) or a Unique Application Number (UAN) on their application to make sure that all of your applications are linked together correctly.

As dependant visa holders, your family members will be able to stay in the UK for the same length of time granted on your Charity visa UK. This means that when your visa expires, their visas will also expire. As such, if you wish to extend your Charity Worker visa, you will all need to do so at the same time.


1 GOV.UK: Application from outside the UK

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