Different countries have different visa requirements for volunteers. We know the visa process can be quite complicated and confusing, so we’ve jotted down some general information about obtaining a visa for Ghana, India, or South Africa as a U.K. citizen. We’re also including links to the visa application site if you wish to begin your application. Additionally, there are a number of resources available that handle the booking of an international visa for you, but it’s up to you if you would like to spend the money on those services.
Please note that this is not definitive guide to the visa process for each country. Requirements can vary on a personal basis and we strongly recommend you complete your own research and reach out to the nearest consulate to ensure you have your application adequately prepared.
U.K. citizens are required to obtain visas whenever they travel to Ghana. Visas are valid for up to three months and must be used within three months of the date of issue.
Requirements for Visa Application
Visa fees vary with length of stay, but generally range between 20 and 100 pounds for volunteer projects. Standard processing time is 7-10 working days. This can be expedited to a 72-hour process for an additional fee. However, it is better to get the visa ahead of time to ensure timeliness.
British passport holders should contact the Ghanaian High Commission in London to make proper arrangements for a travel visa. This is also where visa applications will be sent.
If you want to extend your stay, you must contact the Director of the Ghana Immigration Service. You can be granted a three-month extension if you have proof of funds to support your stay.
Link to Visa Application: https://www.ghanahighcommissionuk.com/passports/visaapplication.aspx
South Africa has a specific visa for volunteers. All applicants must apply for their visa in person. You can only apply for a volunteer visa if the stay is less than three months. While in South Africa, you can apply for an additional three-month extension for a fee, making your stay a total of six months. Conversely, you can apply for a Volunteer Permit, which is a temporary residence permit and covers a longer period of time. Visas are not issued upon arrival, so visitors must have a visa with them before they depart for South Africa, otherwise they will not be able to enter.
Requirements for a Holiday Visa (6 months or less)
Processing time is at least 32-34 working days, but may take longer so it is best to get it done ahead of time. However, you cannot apply more than 9 weeks before the intended date of travel and it is recommended to not set an appointment date later than 5 weeks before your intended travel date. The validity of visa is based on the date of entry.
Requirements for a Volunteer Permit (more than 6 months)
Payment can be made with credit card, debit card, or cash. There are South Africa Visa Application Centres in London, Manchester, and Edinburgh. Appointments must be made online and are not taken on a walk-in basis.
Link to website: http://www.vfsglobal.com/southafrica/uk/volunteer_visa.html
An Intern Visa is granted to applicants travelling to India to pursue internship in Indian Companies, Educational Institutes or NGOs/Charities. Applicants will be requested to provide documentations from the concerned institutions. Please see the ‘Documents Required’ section for more details
Application processing takes a minimum of 3 to 5 working days. It is important to not that validity of visa starts from date of issue by the High Commission of India rather than date of travel, so try not to apply too early. Applicants that wish to mail their applications in must select UK-London as their mission, otherwise applicants can make an appointment and deliver their application in person to the consulate nearest them (more information on this can be found here: http://www.vfsglobal.com/India/UK/how_to_apply.html)
Link to website: https://www.vfsglobal.co.uk/india/how_to_apply.html