Please consult with an ISSS advisor before engaging in any type of volunteer or unpaid positions. Most so-called volunteer/unpaid positions are not true volunteer work and require employment authorization.
Unauthorized employment is the most serious violation of immigration status and will lead to the termination of your F-1 or J-1 status. Reinstatement is not an option in this case.
What is a volunteer?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) defines a volunteer as follows: “an individual who performs hours of service for a public agency for civic, charitable, or humanitarian reasons, without promise, expectation or receipt of compensation for services rendered, is considered to be a volunteer during such hours.”
What is compensation?
A salary, hourly wage, tips, bonuses, or if the employer covers your tuition, fees, books, supplies, transportation, accommodation expenses or any other benefit in exchange for work performed.