Frequently Asked Questions

The acceptance process can be started any time. The application should be submitted electronically. Call the BVS office at (800) 323-8039 or email us at with any questions. If you have not heard from BVS staff within a few days, please follow up your application with a call or email.

Part 1: The application form, completed essay questions, résumé, current photo, and school transcripts should be sent first. Upon receipt of the application, we will contact your references. Once we have received responses from at least three references (including one from each of the three categories), your application will be reviewed for acceptance into BVS. We recommend you call our office to check on the status of your references. This process needs to be completed by the deadline date of the orientation unit you wish to attend.

Part 2: BVS staff will conduct a phone or virtual interview with each applicant prior to acceptance.

Part 3: Once you are accepted, we will mail you the following to fill out and return: covenant, hold harmless waiver, health screen form, insurance form, death benefit form, and a criminal record check release form. We also ask you to submit a copy of your driver’s license and the volunteer fee.

Important: Logistical considerations may limit the number of volunteers we can place into each orientation. We will place volunteers into orientation units in the order of file completion. The deadline for completing the application is six weeks prior to that unit’s beginning date. When a unit is filled prior to this deadline, a waiting list is established.

The acceptance process takes time. We suggest you send your application two to three months before the orientation unit you want to attend begins.

Contact us frequently to check the status of your file. Checking that your file is complete is your responsibility!

No. BVS is open to all who are willing to serve. BVS seeks to follow Jesus’ teachings through acts of service. We ask that you are open to a spiritual pilgrimage.

To serve internationally, generally you need to be at least 21 years old and have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent life experience. Placements are approved by staff representatives responsible for international projects who receive your materials after your application is accepted.

Applicants interested in international assignments should be in contact with the BVS staff. If serving abroad, you may have additional conversations with staff regarding these positions. International assignments are based on skills, project needs, and availability.

Applicants interested in international assignments should be in contact with the BVS staff. If serving abroad, you may have additional conversations with staff regarding these positions. International assignments are based on skills, project needs, and availability.

Be open to considering domestic projects, as placements outside the United States are not guaranteed. BVSers can also take an international assignment after a year of domestic service.

A special note for volunteers looking at projects in Latin America and Africa:

Due to the ever-changing needs of BVS’s partner organizations in Latin America and Africa, BVS lists project placements where the current volunteers are serving plus a few other projects that are flexible to receive volunteers at any time. Potential volunteers can look at the project placements listed in this book as a guide but should keep in mind that interest in service in Latin America and Africa is more important than a particular project.

The placement of a volunteer is a process that will involve the volunteer, BVS and Global Mission staff, and the host organization, where everyone involved will look for the right match between the volunteer’s skills and interests and the host organization’s needs and educational opportunities. Some projects sites may be developed and placements arranged during the application and orientation process.

General requirements for volunteers in Latin America and Africa include the ability to work in an unstructured environment, to have local adaptability, and to be process- and people-oriented rather than goal-oriented. The most important requirement for a BVSer in Latin America and Africa is their ability to actively support the processes that the host organization has begun and to accompany them in their work. This philosophy, to accompany people with a commitment to live in solidarity with the local community that you are serving, is at the core of the volunteer experience in Latin America and Africa.

Global Mission is open to exploring additional possibilities and partnerships based on an applicant’s interest, skills, and established relationship with other organizations.

Volunteers serving domestically pay $500 toward travel and administration costs. Those serving outside the United States pay a $1,000 fee to help with travel costs. Additionally, BVSers accepted at international assignments in countries requiring a visa or pre-clearance process will need to provide the funds for the initial set of fees. Ask staff for details, as fees vary by region.

Subsequent visa fees after the BVSer has been on project will be covered by BVS, the project, or other sources. Volunteers coming to the U.S. through the EIRENE program in Germany will be covered by the EIRENE program. Any non-EIRENE volunteer coming from outside the U.S. will be charged the $500 fee to serve in the U.S.

International volunteers serving in the United States please note: when arriving in the U.S., you will be issued an I-94 form. You may be issued only a three- to twelve-month stay. BVS will apply for an extension so that you may complete your term of service. Additionally, you are responsible for the cost of your visa. International volunteers serving in the United States have to pay their transportation to orientation and the return fare home from the port of entry.

Yes. Historically, placements have occurred at orientation, but recently, BVS has implemented a pre-placement process for all volunteers. Specific details about the placement process are given to each volunteer following their acceptance.

BVS projects may already have volunteers from BVS or other volunteer agencies. With shrinking budgets, projects cannot always afford volunteers. Projects sometimes specify an availability date. The project book is compiled annually. During the placement process, you will receive a placing list of projects seeking volunteers from your orientation. Flexibility is essential!

People who decide to volunteer often think that they “must” use their degree or prior experience at a BVS project. Or sometimes it is the last thing they want to do. BVS is often an opportunity to serve in a field in which you are inexperienced but have an interest. We encourage people to look for projects of interest and calling. Many projects seek generalists or persons willing to learn a new skill.

If you want to specifically use your degree and experience, the BVS office will work with you as best we can. We remind all volunteers to be flexible in their placement choices. Projects are not always available at your time of placement.

BVS encourages recent high school graduates to consider volunteering, and there are a broad number of possibilities for volunteers of all ages. However, there may be limitations in project placement depending on age. Some projects are restricted for legal reasons, such as licensing and insurance, while others require extensive life knowledge. Even so, BVS is supportive of young people entering the program. Please talk with the BVS staff about which projects best suit your interests, needs, and life experience.

BVS provides special options for older adults (ages 50 and older). Older adults are welcome at all orientations. For more information, visit the Older Adult Program information page.

Yes. BVS suggests that a couple be married for at least one year before they volunteer. The application process is the same as it is for everyone applying to BVS. Not all projects can accommodate more than one person, but many can.

BVS will not place an unmarried couple together at the same site. As stated above, BVS suggests that couples are married at least one year before they volunteer. Also, BVS assumes the volunteer will remain single during his/her term of service.

We know that upon coming into BVS, volunteers may be entering into long-distance relationships with significant people in their lives.

To help incoming volunteers prepare for the potential challenges of this situation, we ask the following questions in the pre-acceptance interview: “What significant relationships will you be working to maintain during your time in BVS—family, friends, romantic? How do you plan to balance those relationships with the new relationships you will be building while in BVS (as well as doing your work at your new project)?” We ask that volunteers are conscious and mindful about building community in their new location while maintaining existing relationships.

Travel light. You will need to be able to carry everything with you. We suggest packing only for orientation and the first month on project. Orientations are located in different regions, so pack accordingly. Bring one set of dress clothes, work clothes, and comfortable clothes, and include something for both warm and cold weather. After you’re placed, someone at home can ship the rest of what you need.

BVS is often a time to realize what you can do without. We encourage you to leave luxury items behind. This is especially important for international placements.

It is important to read the pre-orientation material that you will receive for specific information related to the orientation you will attend.

Living situations are arranged by the projects and vary according to their needs and resources. Living situations include community living with other volunteers, in an apartment (sometimes shared), with a family, or on site at the project.

Possibly. Qualifying student loans may be deferred for up to three years of service. Contact your lending agency for the deferment forms and to see if your loan qualifies. Volunteers should bring their deferment forms to orientation.

BVS provides transportation to and from the project, room, board, a monthly stipend, health insurance coverage, and an annual retreat. BVS will maintain regular contact with you while you are on project.

More than you can imagine! Returning volunteers tell us that they received more than they gave. The unexpected gifts from the lives you touch when you serve are the rewards that Christ beckons us to understand.

Most of the projects have websites included in the project listings. Information about a potential project may be helpful as you consider BVS. However, please remember that BVS makes all the initial arrangements for placement. You may not make arrangements with projects on behalf of BVS. The website information is intended for informational use only.

Yes. BVS has a health insurance plan available if you are not covered by a family or personal plan. Please see the covenant for details.

Please note that BVS does not provide insurance for personal items such as cell phones, computers, cameras, bicycles, and cars.

Yes! Though stated earlier, this needs to be stated again. Many things can change suddenly, especially when we work with projects with limited budgets. Projects listed on our website and in the project booklet may not be available when you arrive at orientation. You may need to wait for an overseas assignment longer than you expected.

Please call the BVS office at (800) 323-8039 if you have additional questions.