Volunteer Jobs on the H4 Visa

I have written about volunteering on the H4 visa before, and on how networking can get you there. And I know that on paper or online, it sounds simpler than it really is.

First, getting a volunteer job you like is not easy. Second, you will have to work hard, or at least work, without pay. Third, many of us dont have two cars when on the H4 so commute is a hassle. Commute is ofcourse worse if you cant drive – who wants to negotiate with the husband every morning. So many of us just stay at home and or want ‘volunteer’ jobs to do from home.

But inspite of all that I think it is important. First, because it gets you out of the house. Second, it makes you join the American workforce in some way. Why I think this is important is that it gives you a voice. A voice in the workforce that has a greater chance of being heard even in immigration negotiations. Third, it gives you your own friend circle in the multicultural environment that we live in – a circle of friends beyond our comfort zone of friends and relatives. And just what you can find out about this country by working is amazing and interesting. Fourth, hopefully you get to do something worthwhile and something that you like. Fifth, your resume is not blank for the time – and much more than in India, volunteer work is appreciated here. College grads actually take a year off to volunteer before joining back. You can really get valuable experience which makes a transition back to the paid workforce easier. And who knows, maybe you discover new passions.

So what kind of jobs? I think there are three kinds – and you probably know more, so do add.

  • Local volunteer jobs at community instituitions such as the YMCA or the library or temple or church or at an animal shelter.
  • Charity related volunteer jobs such as at a Childrens hospital or other charities
  • Industry related volunteer jobs at associations, laboratories, universities and even some enlightened companies.

Working for pay is no fun unless your passion is stirred, so go with your interests and not the first available. This I know from experience.

Finding Volunteer Jobs:

  •  For the local ones, just ask at the volunteer desks at the instituitions like the library or YMCA. Some of these jobs can be a lot of fun and before and after office hours (makes the car sharing question easier) or even whole day for a couple of days a week, if you are up for it.
  • For charities, I found this website called www.volunteermatch.org. I have not used the site but it seems to match jobs to interests. Yahoo jobs, monster etc also has sections for non profit or volunteer jobs. You can at least peruse them to see the kind of jobs available and then look in your local area
  • Networking: This is very important for the industry volunteer jobs. Use contacts you have – ask actively. Ask professors, or get referals to universities. More on networking here.
  • Join associations and attend their meetings. Some of the association jobs are around fund raising – if you believe in the cause, say raising money for a women in IT event, you may find these jobs are work-at-home, do on the phone projects which allow you interaction with outside while staying at home. Even beyond fundraising, some of these jobs include writing, building readership, sending newsletters etc – all volunteer jobs you can do from home on your H4 visa.
  • Check out your husbands office or office or others you know. You may find that the office is already involved in a lot of charities or people in the office are.  Trying to join those may give you an easy way in, and let you network both inside and outside the office. Also, its much easier through a contact
  • if you have kids – schools, kids activities offer active opportunities for volunteering. Go with the flow.
  • Internet searches use volunteer jobs and not volunteer jobs on H4 visa as the first will  give you better results and opportunities. 

Must do’s: I am sure there are a lot of others, but I think you must check with your lawyer and you must be honest when talking to any agency. In the US the premium for honesty is very high, and for an H4 visa there is nothing to be ashamed of!

The next part of my series on volunteering on the H4 visa is here.

Some more posts to look at: Five places to find a job when on an H4 visa. A serialized story on H4 life.. share yours. Also, Five ways to boost your career and job prospects when on the H4 visa.

 Now I am no expert on this, so please add and correct me! All the best.

Last 5 posts by Amrita Bakshi



29 Comments

  1. sjain

    Amrita,
    Hi. I read two of your articles; very true and encouraging. It feels nice to read articles like these, one starts to think in a new direction.
    Good job!
    Thanks
    S Jain

  2. Amrita

    Thank you very much for your comment. It makes all the difference to hear from readers.
    Amrita

  3. Simran

    Hi Amrita
    Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts on this topic. I read some of your post and found them very helpful. I must mention that you gave very practical ideas. I am H4 visa and I applied some of them and they really work!!  Now I am a fan of this website :-)
    Keep it up!!!!!!
    Best wishes,Simran

  4. Amrita Bakshi

    Simran, I logged in this morning and was delighted to see your comment. Thank you! As a writer, it feels fulfilling to get comments. May I ask which ones worked for you? It will just help me highlight that in future articles. I try to make it practical because when I came here and was on H4 there was just so much I did not know about the country, and now in hindsight I feel if I had known I could have done more. So I try to share that information. You can comment here or email me at amritabakshi33@gmail.com

  5. Simran

    Amrita, although I found all of your post very informative in some way, specifically, your ideas for women on H4 visa and finding volunteer jobs on H4 are quite helpful for people like me since we do not have any organisation where we can share our ideas and problems with each other. So, I think sharing your ideas in this way is very useful and I would like to thank you for making an effort.  I read your posts few weeks ago and though why not do volunteer job meanwhile and guess what !!! now I am going to start working in JHU, although as a volunteer. Like you said, I believe its a good start.

    Thanks for sharing :-)
    Simran

  6. Riya

    I was there once. So I wish these articles had been there.

  7. Riya

    As I was saying, I have been there. The gap did not help me but it is not something you cant get over. Hold on,, the green card will come!

  8. Hannah

    I’m on an H-4 visa and attempted to do volunteer work at a non-profit university. I was told this was not permitted. Now I’m confused about what is and isn’t permitted with regards to unpaid work. Can anyone shed any light?

  9. Amrita Bakshi

    Hi Simran. So good to get your comment. Thank you for the compliment. As I have mentioned elsewhere it was a hard time for me and I was amazed that there is no organization to help so I was sharing ideas.

  10. Amrita Bakshi

    Riya, I am with you. Green card will come or something else will work out which may be even better

  11. Amrita Bakshi

    Hi Hanna, thanks for your comment. I think the best approach would be to ask your husbands office lawyer. Its just a question, so he can just email the lawyer. Or if you know any friends who are immigration lawyers you can ask them. But who told you? Was it the university, in which case there is not much you can do.

  12. Khushi

    Hi. I would kind of agree here as its best to ask a lawyer in these situations.

  13. tanurima

    Hello Amrita
    It fely just GREAT ! reading your article and definitely the other comments too. I am an H4 wife , sitting at home after having worked for the last 6 yrs as a consultant and holding an MBA degree in my kitty . Had i have not read this article i would still continue to believe that its only me who got stuck in a weird scenario . I am trying to find out so many ways possible to earn some money with some constructive work. Nothing seems to work . But i heard that some H4 people do work in lieu of cash . Dont know if that is true , or even if it is, how to find such openings no idea do i have . It is a terrible sense of of pain to see time passing by and the most constructive years of life passing by too doing nothing ! i am trying to connect with as many h4 people and get to know more on the status. Feel free to connect with me on tanurima21@gmail.com.My internet research is on .

  14. Sowmya

    Hi Amrita,
    I must say this article is very encouraging.. thank u for posting such good article. i completely agree with tanurima. Searching for soo many options sometime gets scary as it goes on. i was disappointed  too. But then i read this article ,especially the line “  and for an H4 visa there is nothing to be ashamed of!” and now i8am charged up again to continue my search. thank u Amrita.

  15. Ruhcita

    HI Amrita,

    Your articel is very encouraging.. Thank you so much for posting it!! A per all above post i agree with all gals wit watever they have said, even m on H4 visa n it’s realy very disappointing to sit at home and do nuthing. Iwould love to know if i can do anythin, any kind of work. If any one can help wit getting any job or volunteering job. I just dnt wana waste years of life by just sitting at home and doing nuthin creative. i am open for all kind of work to do. If any one have any offer please contact me on khonda1986@gmail.com. I live in San Antonio, Texas and m looking somethin to do around my area. Thank you all !!!! Please feel free to contact.

  16. Poorna

    Currently I am on H4 and I got a job offer through my consultant. My joining date is October 11.
    My consultant is applying for H1 B through premium processing this week. Can I work on H4 for my future employer without being paid till my H1B is approved?

    My new employer cannot wait for any longer than October 11. Please help me with what can be done in this scenario.

    Thanks,
    Poorna

  17. prab

    Poorna, Im on H4 tryin to find a consultant who could sponsor my H1…Could u help me with consultant details.

  18. sahana

    HEY hi!!

    Absolutely and very true ..volunteering is not just about money – but the career!! thanks for all tips that you have provided on the blog..i am sure just writing /posting on the blog would not only enhances creative writing skills but also helps to inspire and reach out to people ..yes work will add up experience and refine skills provided its apt to the career…. i appreciate your spirits that u have put down to guide in better ways !

    Thanks Amritha..
    Have splendid time :)

  19. priya

    Volunteer for a job on H4 visa(Teaching/assisting in your kid’s school):

    Very good way to monitor your kid’s progress, stay with your kid through easy american course and prepare them for a difficult future in India, and you can have a good social life also.you are on H4 visa not breaking any rules,helping your kid and helping yourself,perfect way to follow the law on H4 visa and help community and your family….

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