Got an unpaid internship and wondering if you can do it? Want to volunteer at a local charity you care about? Find out if you need authorization, and make sure you have the authorization you need.
To protect US and international workers from abuse, the US government says that if a person provides a service for which a person would normally be employed, the activity is considered work or employment. This means that the employer must then pay the person.
Some training programs where the trainee is under close supervision and provides no significant measurable work for the employer are exceptions to this rule. The exceptions are detailed on these documents from New York State and the US Department of Labor:
You can also review University policy on unpaid internships and volunteering. For further help in determining whether someone would be classified as a volunteer, see this NYU Unpaid Volunteer Questionnaire.
Here are the basic criteria of an unpaid internship
Any unpaid charitable work at a non-profit charity is fine and will NOT need any form of employment authorization.