Yosemite welcomes volunteers from all over the world. Part of the National Park Service's mission is to share conservation practices with other nations. However, if volunteers are not US citizens, we may not provide them with park housing or reimbursement unless they have a work visa or J-1 Visa. Non-US citizens may volunteer with only a tourist visa if they provide their own accommodations and do not receive anything of value (such as meals, free entrance, etc.) from the National Park Service.
Yosemite receives a constant stream of inquiries from international applicants, but typically hires only one to four international volunteers each year. We focus on applicants who are working or studying in related fields, such as a wildlife biologist who works in an African protected area working on bear protection at Yosemite, or a student in historical architecture working in the park's historic resources program. We ask for volunteers to commit to a minimum of two months, though most volunteer for three to six months. The J-1 visa process can take at least 6 weeks, so volunteers must allow time between when they apply and when they start their position. The park may provide housing and a small meal reimbursement.
Potential volunteers from other nations may learn more about visa requirements at the International Volunteer Office.
Applying for International Positions
To help us in placing you into a position, please be specific on your application about the type of work you are looking for (i.e. camp host, trail work, wildlife biology, clerical work, visitor center assistant, group work, etc.) and what type of lodging you may need (none, campsite, apartment (rarely available), campsite for RV, with or without hookups). You can apply online or by downloading the application [52 kb PDF] and mailing it to us at: Volunteer Office, PO BOX 700, El Portal, CA 95318.
Once we have selected you for a position, we will sponsor you for a J-1 visa. This process can take six or more weeks, and should be done from your home country.
Foreign Nationals Attending US Colleges and Universities
If you are attending a college or university in the United States on a student visa, that does not necessarily allow to volunteering in the national parks and receive housing and meal reimbursement. However, colleges may sponsor curriculum-based internships in the parks under some circumstances. Contact the International Volunteer Office for information.
Volunteer positions by definition are unpaid, though they may provide housing a up to $100/week for meals (not all positions have housing or meal allowances). The National Park Service will not pay for transportation to and from the park. The National Park Service may only hire US citizens into paid government positions. However, park partners and concessioners may hire international employees if they can obtain the appropriate visas. The park's concessioner runs all of the park's hotels and most retails outlets.