Volunteering and Unpaid Internships

International students may have options to participate in limited volunteer and/or unpaid opportunities such as volunteering for a non-profit organization who is holding a charity race or food donation drive, participating in a religious service, or volunteering at a local animal shelter.

It is important to be aware of both the Code of Federal Regulations for F-1 and J-1 students as well as U.S. labor laws so that you do not participate in unauthorized employment. Before volunteering or accepting any unpaid internship or volunteer opportunity, please consult the ISSO to find out if employment authorization is required.

Volunteer Guidelines

Department of Labor defines an individual as a volunteer when they meet the following criteria:

There are several guidelines provided by the Department of Labor FLSA Fact Sheet (pdf) (DOL) to help determine if the service or volunteer experience you wish to perform is considered volunteering. Here are a few questions to consider in order to help determine if the service you wish to perform is an appropriate volunteer opportunity:

If you have any questions about these guidelines, please contact your ISSO advisor.