Different countries have different visa requirements for volunteers. We know the visa process can be quite complicated and confusing, so we’ve jotted down some general information about obtaining a visa for Ghana, India, or South Africa as a U.K. citizen. We’re also including links to the visa application site if you wish to begin your application. Additionally, there are a number of resources available that handle the booking of an international visa for you, but it’s up to you if you would like to spend the money on those services.
Please note that this is not definitive guide to the visa process for each country. Requirements can vary on a personal basis and we strongly recommend you complete your own research and reach out to the nearest consulate to ensure you have your application adequately prepared.
U.K. citizens are required to obtain visas whenever they travel to Ghana. Visas are valid for up to three months and must be used within three months of the date of issue.
Requirements for Visa Application
- Completed Visa Application Forms
- Original passport
- Flight itinerary
- Hotel reservations
- Proof of Yellow Fever Vaccination
- 2 colour passport size photos
- Business/Residential addresses and phone numbers
- Financial means
- Proposed date of travel
- Names and addresses of references and accommodations in Ghana
- Letter of Invitation – a letter of invitation from a sponsor (host company or individual) explaining your purpose in Ghana and their relationship to you, as well as who is financially responsible for you during the trip
- Letter of consent from parent or guardian if under 18
- Yellow Fever Vaccine
Visa fees vary with length of stay, but generally range between 20 and 100 pounds for volunteer projects. Standard processing time is 7-10 working days. This can be expedited to a 72-hour process for an additional fee. However, it is better to get the visa ahead of time to ensure timeliness.
British passport holders should contact the Ghanaian High Commission in London to make proper arrangements for a travel visa. This is also where visa applications will be sent.
If you want to extend your stay, you must contact the Director of the Ghana Immigration Service. You can be granted a three-month extension if you have proof of funds to support your stay.
Link to Visa Application: https://www.ghanahighcommissionuk.com/passports/visaapplication.aspx
South Africa has a specific visa for volunteers. All applicants must apply for their visa in person. You can only apply for a volunteer visa if the stay is less than three months. While in South Africa, you can apply for an additional three-month extension for a fee, making your stay a total of six months. Conversely, you can apply for a Volunteer Permit, which is a temporary residence permit and covers a longer period of time. Visas are not issued upon arrival, so visitors must have a visa with them before they depart for South Africa, otherwise they will not be able to enter.
Requirements for a Holiday Visa (6 months or less)
- Bank statement under the applicants name proving sufficient funds for the trip. The requirement is 600 pounds per month
- Must be stamped by bank or have a letter verifying it
- A completed application form
- Birth certificate
- Two passport size photos
- Valid passport and copy of main page
- UK Visa or Residence Permit valid for at least 30 days past return date from South Africa, as well as a copy of this document
- Statement regarding the purpose and duration of the trip
- Proof of yellow fever vaccination
- Proof of non-remunerative voluntary or charitable work
- Medical report about general state of health from a GP
- Radiological report proving no signs of active pulmonary tuberculosis
- Police clearance certificate from the applicant’s host country detailing any criminal history
- Invitation letter from South African host with proof of accommodation
- Provisional flight information for a stay less than 12 months
- Visa fees are currently 35 pounds but subject to change, along with a 40 pound service charge
- Marriage certificate and divorce decree where applicable
Processing time is at least 32-34 working days, but may take longer so it is best to get it done ahead of time. However, you cannot apply more than 9 weeks before the intended date of travel and it is recommended to not set an appointment date later than 5 weeks before your intended travel date. The validity of visa is based on the date of entry.
Requirements for a Volunteer Permit (more than 6 months)
- Pay a fee that varies country to country
- A completed BI-84 application form
- Two passport sized photographs
- 4 medical clearance forms
- A routine physical examination
- A vaccination/immunization form
- A chest x-ray for tuberculosis
- An HIV test
- A police report proving no convictions
- A letter from the organization you’ll be working for stating the duration and nature of your work
- A bank statement proving sufficient funds – since “sufficient funds” depends on your personal situation, it is recommended to ask the South African embassy/consulate nearest you
- A valid passport
Payment can be made with credit card, debit card, or cash. There are South Africa Visa Application Centres in London, Manchester, and Edinburgh. Appointments must be made online and are not taken on a walk-in basis.
Link to website: http://www.vfsglobal.com/southafrica/uk/volunteer_visa.html
An Intern Visa is granted to applicants travelling to India to pursue internship in Indian Companies, Educational Institutes or NGOs/Charities. Applicants will be requested to provide documentations from the concerned institutions. Please see the ‘Documents Required’ section for more details
- Passport valid for a minimum of 180 days with at least two blank pages.
- Correct visa fee.
- Two recent 50 mm * 50 mm size photographs. Please check the Photo Specification
- Filled application form and declaration (all the columns of the form are mandatory and must be filled). (Printed and duly signed)
- Invitation letter from concerned authorities/organisations in India offering the paid/unpaid internships along with the letter from the college/university in the UK. Invitation letter should be addressed to the High Commission of India, London or its respective Consulates in Edinburgh or Birmingham & should have the below information:
- Duly filled Entry Visa Undertaking.
- Only GRADUATES are eligible to apply for this visa category
Application processing takes a minimum of 3 to 5 working days. It is important to not that validity of visa starts from date of issue by the High Commission of India rather than date of travel, so try not to apply too early. Applicants that wish to mail their applications in must select UK-London as their mission, otherwise applicants can make an appointment and deliver their application in person to the consulate nearest them (more information on this can be found here: http://www.vfsglobal.com/India/UK/how_to_apply.html)
Link to website: https://www.vfsglobal.co.uk/india/how_to_apply.html