Volunteer with AFS FAQ

Who can volunteer with AFS?

Almost anyone dedicated to making a difference in the world by promoting peace through international and intercultural learning experiences can volunteer for AFS. We accept volunteers from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. You do not need to have a background working with youth to volunteer with AFS.

What do AFS Volunteers do?

Our volunteers are critical to the AFS mission and support our work in a number of different ways! They help with everything from hosting local events to supporting students and families during their exchange experience to community outreach. Visit our Volunteer Opportunities Page to read about all of the ways to volunteer in detail.

How do I know if there are volunteer opportunities in my part of the country?

Fill out the Volunteer Inquiry Form and a local volunteer or staff member will be in touch with you. They’ll go over what volunteer opportunities are currently available in your area and let you know what your next steps will be.

How big is AFS’s Volunteer Network?

AFS is one of the largest volunteer-based networks of its kind, with more than 40,000 AFS Volunteers worldwide. AFS-USA is supported by more than 4,000 volunteers nationally.

How old do you have to be to volunteer with AFS?

There is no minimum age limit for our volunteers. Many high schoolers like to volunteer after they come home from studying abroad or simply as a way to learn more about the world. There are a few restrictions on what duties a volunteer can perform until they are over 21. 

How do I get started?

There are two options: you can either fill out the Volunteer Inquiry Form, which will put you in contact with a local volunteer or staff member to learn more, or if you’re ready to volunteer now, you can begin the Volunteer Application.

I have a pretty busy schedule. Is there a time commitment for volunteering?

Nope! We want to find ways to involve as many people as possible in our mission, so we try to offer volunteer opportunities that range from as little as one hour to a full year’s involvement.

Will I get any training before I start?

All volunteers complete an online orientation as part of their registration. It includes general information about AFS, its mission, history, structure, and programs. AFS also provides additional training to help volunteers perform certain roles and to encourage personal and professional growth through the volunteer experience.

Is hosting an exchange student with AFS a volunteer position?

The application process to become a volunteer is very different than the process for becoming a host family. Learn more about becoming a host family.

Are there opportunities to do volunteer work in other countries?

Yes! Check out AFSNext, where you can find volunteer, internship, and college credit programs for adults 18 and older.

What are the general requirements to become a volunteer?

To keep our students safe and supported, all volunteers with AFS are required to be registered. New volunteers must complete an application, provide references, pass a background check, participate in an interview, and complete an online volunteer orientation. Additional training may be required for certain volunteer positions after completing the registration process.

Does AFS require a background check to volunteer?

The safety and welfare of our participants is our highest priority. For that reason, the criminal background check is an integral part of the screening process that AFS-USA staff, volunteers and host family members must undergo before becoming affiliated with our organization. AFS requires background checks for everyone age 14 years and older. Your Social Security number is required in order to perform the background check. This information is not saved in any database and is not shared with anyone. For more information on AFS Safety Standards, visit our section on Health and Safety.

State Specific Requirements: Pennsylvania Residents are required to submit up to three additional screening requirements which include the Pennsylvania State Police Search, Child Abuse History Clearance and FBI Fingerprint Background Checks. The FBI Fingerprint Background Check is only required if you have not been a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the previous 10 years consecutively. These requirements apply to all volunteers 18 years and older. For more information about the Pennsylvania screening requirements, please see our Pennsylvania Clearances FAQ page.

Who should I list as references?

You may list teachers, friends, neighbors, and members of church or social groups you belong to, or anyone else who can provide a character reference. You may not list relatives, roommates or significant others as references.

How long is my volunteer registration valid?

Registration must be renewed annually, though the process is much shorter after the initial sign-up. Your registration expires 365 days from the time you complete the Criminal Background Check. You will start receiving re-registration email reminders 30 days before it expires.

Feel free to contact the Volunteer Resources Team with any further questions, at volunteerresources@afsusa.org or 800-AFS-INFO, Option 4.