Thursday, June 9, 2011
Volunteer Visa in Ghana
Going abroad to another country to do volunteer work is a humble undertaking for the individual. Your volunteer work in another country needs to be legal in order to avoid any complications that may lead to your stay during your volunteer experience getting cut short by the government. There are incidents of volunteers being caught without the proper paper work; being deported and even prosecuted to face jail time. These incidents are becoming more and more prominent. You therefore need to ensure that all your documents while in a foreign country are in order while you volunteer there. Let us look at getting the volunteer visa in Ghana.
Where as in some African countries it is possible to purchase a tourist visa upon your arrival at the airport, this is not the case in Ghana. Ghanaian officials require volunteers to have applied for a visa in their home countries, before they depart, this can be done at any Ghanaian embassy or consular office in your country of origin, but, where Ghana has no consular office, then you may apply for a visa at the nearest consular office to your country, that has been authorized by the government of Ghana.
For your volunteer work to be totally legal then you should have a volunteer visa, but most Ghana officials will advice you that you only need a tourist visa, to be a foreign volunteer in Ghana. There is an exception here for the reason that technically, you are not permitted to work on tourist visas, but because you are not undertaking paid work, it is tolerated.
Other than purchasing your visa before arrival in Ghana, you also need to make sure that your passport is valid for more than six months, before you depart to Ghana. Also remember that your tourist visa is only valid for three months in Ghana, once applied for. You should therefore try and make your application at an appropriate time, that being at least one month before your date of departure to Ghana. Of course this will mean that you will only have two months left on your visa, upon your arrival at the airport, but this should not worry or frustrate you; because your visa can be extended every 2 months for as long as you like for a cost of about $5 US per month.
When applying for your volunteer visa to Ghana, then under the section Purpose of Journey, tick the box that states voluntary work. If the visa application form you download does not have volunteering as an option under the Purpose of Journey section, then you should select holiday/tourism and make a note where possible that you are volunteering. When you have formally applied to the organization you are planning to volunteer with, then you will get a letter of invitation from the organization, which will form part of your visa application. It is also a requirement of the visa application that you have a return ticket, so you need to have all this in mind before departure to Ghana.
In conclusion therefore, when applying for a visa to volunteer in Ghana you need to have downloaded and completely filled a visa application form with two or four passport size photographs (UK requires two and US requires four), have a valid passport with more than six months too expiry before departure, have a letter of invitation from the organization you are planning to work for or with, and a yellow fever vaccination, which must be shown at the Ghanaian airport upon arrival. However you need to remember that the yellow fever vaccine takes effect ten days after vaccination has taken place, but it may last for up to ten years after vaccination. Your tourism visa fee which starts from 50$.