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International Student Services


What is Volunteering?

Volunteering is donating time with an organization, and:

  • The organization’s primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian
  • You don’t receive remuneration or any other type of compensation
  • The activity is unrelated to your field of study or intended profession

F-1 status allows this kind of volunteer activity without special permission.

Just because a position is unpaid (like an unpaid internship), it might not be volunteering according to the immigration rules.

If the activity relates to your studies or intended profession, it is likely considered training, and requires advance authorization from ISS or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Check the previous section about internships and training.