Volunteering as an International Student

International students on F-1 status are allowed to volunteer while maintaining F-1 status, as long as the position is purely volunteer work. 

What is Volunteering?

Volunteering is donating your time with an organization without payment of any kind. In addition, this volunteer work must follow the below guidelines:

  • The organization's primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian (such as a non-profit organization)
  • You don't receive any kind of compensation
  • The activity is unrelated to your field of study or intended profession

If your desired position fits all of these points above, then you likely do not need CPT authorization and it is considered volunteer work. However, if your role is directly related to your major and integrates your academic learning with practical experience, this will likely require CPT authorization. If you need help understanding whether your desired position is volunteer work or CPT, please contact your immigration advisor or email isc@seattleu.edu.