How to Become an International Volunteer

Wondering how to become an international volunteer in US national parks? The National Park Service manages more than 400 national parks within the US and its territories. If you are not a US permanent resident, you may be able to volunteer with National Park Service’s International Volunteers in Parks (IVIP) program, which is managed by the agency’s Office of International Affairs.

Getting Started

Getting ready for an international volunteer position requires advanced planning and time. Allow at least two to three months for the entire process, including finding a volunteer position, filling out the proper forms, and applying for a visa (usually a J1 visa). It is also important to coordinate with the National Park Service’s International Volunteer Coordinator who will help you throughout this enter process.

It is important to read the entire step-by-step process below, which the International Volunteer Coordinator will also help guide you through. We can only accept applicants who meet Department of State Requirements for a J-1 or F-1 visa.

Who Can Be an International Volunteer?

To become an IVIP with the National Park Service, you must:

  • be either a university student majoring in natural or cultural resources or another park related subject (i.e., teaching, communications), or...

  • a professional working at a national park, protected area or cultural site

  • speak English.

  • have resources to support yourself financially, which may include your travel, housing, food, and other personal needs. (Some parks may have housing available.)

  • agree to return home after your volunteer program to share your new skills.

Steps to Apply, Find an International Volunteer Position, and Obtain a Visa

To become a volunteer through the IVIP program, follow the steps listed below in order. Please note that foreign nationals currently in the US may have a different process.

The National Park Service’s International Volunteer Coordinator will navigate you through the process of becoming a volunteer, including finding opportunities, going over required documents and insurance, and coordinating with the national park hosting you.

Last updated: June 13, 2023