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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.5 Cross-border mobility programmes

Last update: 14 March 2024
On this page
  1. EU programmes
  2. Other Programmes
  3. Legal framework applying to foreign volunteers


Increasing and diversifying young people’s European and international mobility is a reccurent youth policy stake. Mobility policies aim to enable all young people to gain experience abroad, whether for training, study or engaging in solidarity projects, especially as the French mobility offer is one of the broadest in the world but still lacks visibility for young people.

varied range of programmes exists, including International Solidarity Volunteering, bilateral programmes, individual grants from local authorities and European schemes.

The ministry in charge of Youth has introduced several instruments in order to achieve this objective: 

  • at national level, a Standing Committee on European and International Youth Mobility (CPMEI), which brings together all mobility stakeholders, the State and its operators, local authorities, youth and popular education associations, youth organisations and the beneficiaries of mobility programmes. This committee
  • at regional level, Comités Régionaux de la Mobilité Européenne et Internationale (COREMOBs - Regional Committees for European and International Mobility), which are strategic and policy-making bodies involving all local stakeholders in youth mobility: decentralised State services, local authorities, non-profit organisations and young people. These regional committees are overseen and chaired jointly by representatives of the State within local authorities (Prefects and Chief Education Officers) and Presidents of Regional Councils. They base their decisions on prior territorial diagnoses.
  • regional platforms for European and international mobility which are strategic tools at the service of the Regional Mobility Committees (COREMOBs), which coordinate all local mobility stakeholders. Specifically, these platforms are based on territorial analysis developed by COREMOBs and implement awareness-raising, information and training schemes for young people and youth workers.
  • the Internet portal "Découvrir le Monde" (Discover the World), which targets young people and aims to "provide ideas, guide choices and help finalise projects to live abroad, including through volunteering".


EU programmes


European Solidarity Corps

The European Solidarity Corps (ESC) is a European Union initiative that aims to give young people aged 18 to 30 years old the option to volunteer or work on projects organised in their country or in an EU country or partner states.

The Agency for Civic Service is responsible for implementing the programme.

The agency is responsible for providing pedagogical support to Erasmus+ projects. It is built on the decentralised services of the Ministry of National Education and Youth and on the Information Jeunesse network – Eurodesk.

The topics of ESC projects are of general interest: inclusion, reception and integration of refugees and migrants, citizenship and democratic participation, environment and nature protection, health and well-being, education and training, employment and entrepreneurship, creativity and culture, sport.

The European Solidarity Corps funds the following categories of projects

- individual volunteering abroad for 2 to 12 months, which can also be carried out in groups of 10 to 40 participants from at least two countries;

- solidarity projects for groups of at least 5 young people, focusing on the values of the European Union in local communities, for 2 to 12 months

- humanitarian volunteering.

The European Solidarity Corps also supports out-of-school internships (3 to 12 months) and full-time jobs of 3 to 6 months.

In 2020 (latest figures available), 3,146 young people were involved in the European Solidarity Corps.

In 2022, 150 French projects were submitted to the last call for funding of the European Solidarity Corps.

In France, the Agency for Civic Service is responsible for implementing ESC projects and thus their follow-up. In addition, the National institute for youth and popular education (INJEP) carries out studies on the mobility of young people, especially in Europe.


Other Programmes


Volunteering as part of non-formal education

Other volunteer programmes are offered to young people:

Civic service, which can be carried out in France but also abroad. In 2021, 1,006 young people carried out a Civic Service mission in 82 countries, on all continents. Germany is the leading destination with 221 French volunteers.

 The main themes covered by international missions are: education for all (36%), solidarity (18%), international development and humanitarian actions (17%), culture and leisure (14%), the environment (12%), memory and citizenship (2%), health (1%) and sport (1%).

VSI – International Solidarity Volunteering

Volontariat de solidarité internationale (VSI – International Solidarity Volunteering) is a scheme governed by the Law of 23 February 2005. 29 organisations have received French government approval to deliver VSI.

It aims to carry out full-time public interest missions overseas in the fields of cooperation, development and humanitarian action. The contract constitutes a civic service performed abroad (Law of 10 March 2010 on Civic Service). VSI is a contractual commitment mutually binding to sending organisation and volunteer alike. Any adult with no professional activity can sign up for VSI. Missions must be organised with international organisations approved by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, which helps coordinates this scheme.

Volunteers receive a monthly allowance, the minimum amount of which cannot be lower than €100, excluding paying for transport, accommodation and meals. The maximum amount for the allowance depends on the country where the project is taking place (living costs, type of project carried out, security conditions, distance, etc.). For example, it is €1,353.34 in Benin and €2,567.40 in Lebanon. This allowance is not the same as a salary or remuneration.

In 2020, there were 1,591 VSI volunteer assignments compared to 1,955 in 2018. People under 30 years old represent 62.3% of the workforce.

 A survey on the dynamics of VSI from 2010 to 2020 highlights the following destinations: 57% of missions over ten years are in Africa, 28% in Asia and 15% on other continents.

International solidarity volunteers are characterised by a high level of qualification: 85% of VSIs in 2020 have a level of education of at least 5 years.

During their mission, 51% of them hold administrative and management positions and 23% participate in educational cooperation programmes.

In addition, solidarity programs are specifically dedicated to groups of young people :

Jeunesse Solidarité Internationale (International Youth Solidarity) is a international solidarity programme supporting short collective projects (maximum 3 weeks) for young people aged 16 to 25 and Ville Vie Vacances Solidarités Internationale   is a program for young people  who are residents in disadvantaged urban territories. These programs depend on the Ministry in charge of international affairs. 



Vocationally oriented volunteering

International Administrative Volunteering (IAV) and International Business Volunteering (IBV) are other forms of international volunteering; they have a professional vocation rather than a citizenship or solidarity aspect. They fall within the scope of international volunteering (IV) as defined by Articles L122-1 to L122-9 of the National Service Code, which cover "international volunteers involved in the action of France worldwide in culture and environment, technical, scientific and economic and humanitarian action". Every year, the operators and ministries that implement this voluntary work compile data on the number, profile and destinations of volunteers.

International Administrative Volunteering (IAV)

International Administrative Volunteering (VIA) allows young people between the ages of 18 and 28 to work abroad for the French government. It can be carried out in embassies, French alliances, research institutes, etc. The young person on a VIA receives a fixed allowance of €749.33 and may receive an additional allowance, depending on the country of assignment, ranging from €954.45 to €4,729.56 per month. Assignments last between 6 and 24 months. As at 31 December 2019 (latest figures available), 1,150 VIAs were in post compared to 1,165 as at 31 December 2018.

International Business Volunteering (IBA) 

International Business Volunteering (VIE) allows a young person aged 18 to 28 to carry out a professional mission abroad for a period of 6 to 24 months. The young person on a VIE receives a fixed allowance of €749.33 and may receive an additional allowance, depending on the country of assignment, ranging from €791.67 to €4,729.56 per month.

All professional sectors are concerned by this scheme: finance, marketing, IT, construction, agronomy, tourism, law and human resources.

As of 31 December 2019 (latest data available), 16,806 VIEs were working in 133 countries around the world, compared to 10,524 as of 31 December 2018.

Legal framework applying to foreign volunteers


Volunteers who are EU third-countries nationals, who want to carry out a volunteering project in France through a foundation or a recognised public interest association, can request a temporary residence permit (APS) at the prefecture or sub-prefecture where they reside if they have a long-stay visa.The project has to meet certain criteria (social or humanitarian goal, general interest, etc.). The APS is issued for the same duration as the project.


Volunteer work in civic service

The civic service framework (Article L.120-4 of the National Service Code (code du service national)) has set parameters for hosting overseas volunteers.

A residence permit is not required for young people from within the European Economic Area (28 EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland.

To be eligible, foreign candidates (excluding the EEA and Switzerland) must stay in France, in certain cases for more than one year, under a residence permit which can be, for example (indicative list):

  • A temporary residence permit that gives allows the holder to work (Article L. 313-10 of the Code on Foreign Entry and Stay and Rights to Asylum (code de l’entrée et du séjour des étrangers et du droit d’asile))
  • A temporary residence permit that refers to “private and family life” (para 1 to 9 of Article L.313-11 of the aforementioned code)
  • A multi-year residence permit that refers to “passeport talent” (Article L.313-20 of the aforementioned code)
  • A multi-year residence permit that refers to “having stateless status” or refers to “family member of a person having stateless status” (article L.313-26 of the aforementioned code)


The Agency for Civic Service has also published a document for associations that outlines how youth volunteer exchange hosting should work: