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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.5 Cross-border mobility programmes

Last update: 28 November 2023
On this page
  1. EU programmes
  2. Other Programmes
  3. Legal framework applying to foreign volunteers

EU programmes

European Solidarity Corps

The European Solidarity Corps funds and supports young people between 18 and 30 to volunteer or work in projects that benefit communities. Young people can volunteer or work, in their own country or abroad, through the Volunteering, Traineeships, Jobs, and Solidarity Projects strands. Its objective is to allow more young people to take part in a wide range of solidarity activities, either by volunteering or through work experience. The European Solidarity Corps is an initiative of the European Union, managed nationally by Léargas


Other Programmes

Voluntary Service International  

Voluntary Service International (VSI) is a volunteer-based peace and social justice organisation. It is the Irish branch of Service Civil International, a worldwide peace movement that was founded after the First World War. VSI is a registered charity funded by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the European Union under the Erasmus+ programme. 

VSI work with young people aged 18+ and their youth workers to:

  • promote the social inclusion of young people
  • raise young people’s awareness of their rights, peace and social justice, sustainable development, the environment and intercultural understanding
  • foster young people’s active citizenship
  • promote young people’s civic engagement
  • develop young people’s skills and competencies and enhance their employability.


VSI arranges both individual and group volunteer projects, year-round, ranging from 1 week to 12 months in Ireland, Europe and in the Global South. Areas of work include social care, community work, human rights, anti-racism, environmental protection, animal welfare, arts and culture. VSI provides extra support and funding for many EU-funded projects to enable young people with fewer opportunities to participate.


Voluntary Service Overseas Ireland 

Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) Ireland is an international development organisation that ‘fights poverty and inequality through volunteers in some of the world's poorest communities.’ VSO works with over 500 local organisations in 23 developing countries.

VSO Ireland volunteer placements are aimed at professionals, requiring a qualification and at least three years professional experience.

VSO Ireland core volunteer programmes are:

  • Education
  • Health
  • Livelihoods

VSO has supported more than 70,000 volunteers.



Comhlámh is the Irish association of development workers and volunteers. It is an organisation that encourages, promotes and assists volunteering in overseas projects. It is a member organisation that works to mobilise for an equitable and sustainable world. 


Legal framework applying to foreign volunteers

Foreign volunteers are eligible to volunteer in Ireland without a visa if they are over 18 years of age and are an EU/EEA citizen or due to the Common Travel Area, a British citizen. Foreign volunteers from certain other countries may be eligible to volunteer in Ireland without a visa but will require preclearance to volunteer in Ireland before they arrive in the country.

The Immigration policy for Volunteering in Ireland was published in 30 April, 2018 under the Department of Justice. This scheme applies to both Visa required and Non Visa Required nationals and anyone who wishes to avail of the scheme should apply before they travel to Ireland and if they intend on staying longer than 3 months. 

This scheme gives people permission to remain in Ireland as a volunteer with an eligible organisation for up to two years. This visa allows foreign volunteers to volunteer in Ireland for between 12 and 24 months. Volunteers can also choose to split their time into two periods of 12 months.


Permission to be a volunteer in Ireland allows you to:

  • Work in a volunteering role with an eligible organisation
  • Your role must match the criteria for volunteering described below
  • The organisation must match the criteria for eligibility described below
  • Stay in Ireland for 1 year initially, up to of 2 years (with an option to apply for an extension for a third year)
  • Apply to change the organisation you volunteer for once in any 12 month period
  • Travel abroad for short periods (e.g. holidays and attending conferences) and return to Ireland.


With this permission you cannot:

  • Do paid work of any kind
  • Bring any family members with you to Ireland
  • Apply to change your immigration status while in the State
  • Change sponsors more than once in any 12-month permission period while in the State under this Scheme
  • Rely on public services or claim any state benefits e.g. health services, education
  • Spend more than two years on aggregate volunteering in the State. 


You are eligible to apply under this Scheme if you:

  • Are aged 18 or older
  • Are a non EU/EEA and non-Swiss citizen
  • Have been offered volunteering work by an eligible organisation
  • Can be fully supported financially for the entire duration of your stay by the organisation that is inviting you to Ireland
  • Are qualified and able to do the activities expected of you
  • Are of good character and good standing, e.g. you can provide a police clearance certificate or equivalent not more than 3 months old
  • Are cleared to work with children and vulnerable adults (if necessary for your role), e.g. you can provide a child clearance certificate from An Garda Síochána (this can be obtained by your sponsor prior to your arrival in Ireland)
  • Have medical insurance from a company authorised by the Health Insurance Authority of Ireland to cover you for the duration of your stay. 


Please note that the above information is only some of the information about visas, and that this information may change. For the most complete and up to date information please visit the Irish Immigration Service's website.