visas and immigration

*** INFORMATION FOR VISITORS FROM OUTSIDE EUROPE ***

Entering the UK as a 'general visitor' (tourist)

Recently, changes were made to the UK Immigration Rules which clarify the type of activities visitors to the UK are permitted to undertake, and for how long. These changes took effect on 6th April 2015  and are updated regularly - it will take a long time for everyone to learn the new rules (including Immigration Officers), so we recommended you print out the relevant text and carry it with you.

The UK Home Office ‘Immigration Rules’ state:

'Volunteering

A visitor may undertake incidental volunteering (i.e. the main purpose of the visit is not to volunteer), provided it lasts no more than 30 days in total and is for a charity that is registered with either the Charity Commission for England and Wales; the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland; or the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.'

This text is from:

  • Immigration Rules Appendix V: visitor rules. Immigration Rules for visitors’

in the section called

  • VISITORS APPENDIX 3. PERMITTED ACTIVITIES FOR ALL VISITORS (EXCEPT TRANSIT VISITORS)’

WWOOF UK is a charity registered in England and Wales 1126220 and in Scotland SC045524.

We have applied to become a charity in Northern Ireland, however the Charities Commission Northern Ireland can take a long time to complete the process.

All WWOOF hosts are members of the charity - when a WWOOFer volunteers with a host, they are volunteering for the charity.

IMPORTANT!

WWOOFing is not work, it is volunteering

However, you must ensure the main reason for your trip to the UK is as a visitor, not as a volunteer.

Be prepared to emphasise this if questioned by Immigration Officers.
 

It is your responsibility to understand the rules and how they relate to your visit to the UK.

The section of the Immigration Rules which applies especially to visitors is here Appendix V, and the full set of rules is here Immigration Rules.

It might be useful to make sure you have a way of pointing Immigration Officers to these UK Government websites, so they can see where you got the wording from.  Don't assume that everyone working at the UK border knows all the details of all the rules.

April 2016 - WWOOF UK observations of immigration:

Immigration issues are rare, but the most common problem we have seen recently is when non-EU WWOOFers try to enter the UK from another EU country, not necessarily from their own country (e.g. a USA citizen entering the UK on a flight from Croatia, or on the Eurostar train from France). Most of the time there’s no problem, but in these rare cases the WWOOFer can get turned away and sent back to the country they have travelled from.

The Immigration Rules are the same, regardless of which country you travel from, but we have heard of Immigration Officers being extra cautious about allowing non-EU citizens to come into the UK via another EU country.

 

We cannot offer any advice on individual circumstances – our website tells you all we know!

However we are always trying to make it easier for our members to understand the immigration rules, so please get in touch with us if  if you or anyone you know has had any problems when coming to WWOOF in the UK - info@wwoof.org.uk

Tier 5 (Charity Workers) visa

We are frequently asked about the Tier 5 (Charity Workers) visa. We believe that this visa cannot be obtained for WWOOFing. Neither WWOOF UK nor its host farms can act as sponsor for Tier 5 visa applications.

Youth Mobility Scheme

If you are from Australia, Japan, Canada or New Zealand and aged between 18-30 years old, you might be eligible for the Youth Mobility Scheme. You can only get this kind of visa once in a lifetime, and if you have previously visited the UK on a working holidaymaker visa you will not be eligible for this scheme.

Visiting the UK on the Youth Mobility Scheme entitles you to stay in the UK for up to 2 years, and undertake whatever work you like, including voluntary placements – such as WWOOFing. To be eligible you must satisfy the following criteria:

  •  Aged between 18-30
  •  Have no dependents
  •  Be from a participating country
  •  Demonstrate that they have at least £1800 in available funds
  •  Obtain entry clearance

For more details, read:

http://www.lawfirmuk.net/immigration_e.html

To download an application form, visit the UK Border Agency website:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/workingintheuk/tier5/youthmobilityscheme

Other visas for volunteering in the UK from outside the European Union or EEA*

If you are coming to the UK principally for an activity other than volunteering (such as employment, studying, or as a spouse), it is possible that you will be able to volunteer with WWOOF as an additional activity. Please make sure to check your visa or entry clearance requirements, and make sure that you are allowed to volunteer on your visa.  

You can also check the UK border Agency website for the details of your specific visa or entry clearance:

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/

* The European Economic Area (EEA) comprises the countries of the European Union, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.