If I am an international student and am holding a F1 visa, can I volunteer in a hospital without having a work authorization?

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If I am an international student and am holding a F1 visa, can I volunteer in a hospital without having a work authorization?

I was planning to work in a hospital as a volunteer during the summer because I had heard that international students are allowed to volunteer. However, about a month ago, a lawyer came to our school and he told me that I can not volunteer because I will be providing benefit to the hospital by volunteering. This does not make any sense to me because the whole purpose of volunteering is to do some productive job. What is your opinion?

Asked on May 5, 2013 under Immigration Law, Maryland

Answers:

SB, Member, California / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You are permitted to volunteer when the work you are doing as a volunteer is truly volunteering type work.  In other words, you cannot simply work for no pay and call it volunteering if it is the type of work for which one would normally expect to get paid.  If you are going to do volunteer work in the hospital, I think that would be fine since this is the type of volunteering work that is contemplated by the word volunteer. 


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