Canadian criticised for volunteering on 'wrong UK visa'

02 Apr 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A Canadian visiting the UK claims she has been "treated like a criminal" because she undertook volunteering activities without the correct UK visa.

Julie Lavergne spent several hours a week helping causes in the Sheffield area, such as Under the Stars and the Cupola Gallery. However, she was in the country on a tourist visa after coming to Britain to visit her partner. This has led to problems because technically the Canadian is unable to take unpaid or paid employment on this type of visa.

Speaking to The Star, Ms Lavergne explained: "I proved I could fund my stay, proved I was leaving the country and thought I’d help my case by providing references from the organisations on how I’m occupying my time helping the community.

"I was ready for extra questioning, but was shocked at the criminal treatment. I was detained for four hours, locked up, photographed and had my fingerprints taken. I kept saying if I knew this was illegal, do you think I would give you the proof?"

People looking to volunteer whilst in the country are required to obtain a special volunteer UK visa, even if they have no intention of claiming payment for offering their services.

Ms Lavergne's case was eventually set straight and her visa has been extended on the basis that she ends all 'illegal activities'.

However, she has also been advised to stay in the country until her flight back to Canada this summer, or to not return to England following a planned trip to Italy in May, suggesting that the UK Border Agency taking its decision to attach aw warning to the Candian's passport seriously.