Can you Volunteer?

Volunteering is a great way to meet Kiwis and to develop new skills and a good understanding of workplaces in New Zealand. However, you need to be fully aware of the relevant visa regulations!

Do you need a work visa?

If you want to earn money or receive any other gain or reward for your work, you are not considered to be a volunteer and need to apply for a work visa. On a visitor visa, you can do volunteer work while in New Zealand, provided you receive no gain or reward.

Gain or reward:

Gain or reward is any payment or benefit that can be valued in terms of money:

  • accommodation, such as board or lodging
  • goods, such as food or clothing
  • services, such as transport
  • training.

Please note: WWOOFing (Willing Workers on Organic Farms in New Zealand) is considered to be work, as WWOOFers receive food and accommodation. WWOOFers must hold a work visa.

However, payment does not include:

  • reimbursing the volunteer for the expenses they incurred when performing the volunteer work
  • a koha or honoraria
  • any personal satisfaction a volunteer may get from the work.

Some employers have roles available that are specifically classified as volunteering roles: DOC website.

The bottom line is: If you want to volunteer, it is important to make it clear that you do not expect payment and do not receive payment. Otherwise, you may be judged to be an employee and will need a work visa.  

Our advice:  

Don't take any risks by taking up work while you are in New Zealand on a visitor visa. Doing so will negatively affect any further visa applications you might want to lodge and endanger your long term plans for New Zealand.

If you are in doubt whether a specific job can be qualified as volunteering or whether you will need a work visa to start working, ask our Licensed Immigration Advisers.

Read more Job Search FAQ's:

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