In this article:
- Steps to Register for New Volunteer
- Implications of Registering
- Volunteer Registration Checklist
- I’ve Registered, Now What?
AFS-USA has a responsibility to provide an organizational structure for volunteers who contribute to the efforts of AFS-USA. Orientation, training, support, guidance, and development are all provided as required by the US Department of State. As an organization, we believe that we need to hold in highest regard our quality standards and maintain a good reputation.
Conscious that we operate in an environment where we are required to manage risks, AFS-USA believes that it is critical that we demonstrate that we take reasonable actions:
- To see to the protection, safety, and well-being of our program participants (primarily young people)
- To provide our volunteers with the necessary support and guidance as the role demands
In so doing, this provides you, as a volunteer, as well as AFS-USA, an organizational safety net.
Steps to Register for New Volunteer
To begin your volunteer online application, (OA), go to the volunteer application and create a username and password.
- Go to volunteer application
- Under the "Sign Up" section, click "Create Account" (or you can log into an existing account)
- Create an account and follow the prompts to complete your volunteer online application.
The Volunteer Online Application consists of several different sections. As you move through the sections, please click the ‘Submit’ button to ensure you do not lose your information. When a section is completed, it will show a checkmark next to the section on the list.
Photo: This is an optional section that allows applicants to upload a personal photo.
Tell Us About You: Here the applicant will enter their contact and volunteer information.
Take New Volunteer Orientation: The New Volunteer Orientation (NVO) is required for all volunteers when registering for the first time. The NVO online learning module introduces new volunteers to AFS-USA's history, mission, values, volunteer opportunities, exchange programs, and organizational structure in an online training.
Volunteer Interview: A volunteer from your team will be notified that an applicant is at the interview stage. The Volunteer Registration Interviewer will contact the applicant to schedule the interview, which typically takes 15 minutes to conduct. They will ask a series of questions that will help the team get to know the applicant and their interests, as well as help integrate the applicant into the team.
Confidential Form: A series of nine ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ questions are asked as a Department of State requirement.
Reference Form: We ask for contact information from at least three people who can provide a reference. The email address and phone number are required pieces of information, as we send online reference forms to these individuals. AFS may use phone numbers to reach references if they have not responded to email requests. Relatives may not provide references.
Please notify your references that they will be receiving reference requests via email. This helps to expedite the registration process.
References should be people who know the applicant well and are able to comment on their personal qualities, motivation, reliability, skills, etc. References should know the candidate for a minimum of one year. References cannot be related to the applicant due to the potential for a conflict of interest.
Individuals with any of the following relationships to prospective volunteers may not provide references:
- Current or former spouses or domestic partners, or persons with whom the applicants are in a relationship where they share responsibility for a significant measure of each other's well-being, happiness, welfare and/or financial obligations
- Parents, step parents, parents-in-law, current or former legal guardians
- Siblings or step siblings of individuals listed under (1 and 2) and their spouses and children
- Siblings, step siblings, or their spouses
- Children, stepchildren, or foster children
- Grandparents, grandchildren, or their spouses
Common Scenarios to assist with understanding the above:
- Can roommates be a reference? No, based on #1 above. The roommate shares a financial responsibility with the applicant.
- Can a business partner be a reference? No, based on #1 above. A business partner shares a financial responsibility with the applicant.
- Can former host families be a reference? Yes
- Can a fiance or ex-fiance be a reference? No, based on #1 above.
- Can a current or ex-partner be a reference? No, based on #1 above.
Volunteer Agreement: This is an outline of the rules and regulations by which each AFS staff member and volunteer follow. An ‘E-signature’ located at the bottom of the form indicates that the applicant agrees to do so.
Reference Contact: Once we review the application we will send each of the references online reference forms to complete and submit to AFS. The applicant’s references will receive the reference request 10 times, once every three days. If references do not respond, staff may contact references to ask questions over the phone.
Criminal Background Check: Applicants will receive an email with a link to the First Advantage website, an FID number, and instructions on how to submit the background check.
Volunteers without a Social Security number: Require an international search form, which can be found on the confidential tab of the Online Application. Background checks will take longer, up to six weeks to complete.
*Please Note* Even if you have submitted a Criminal Background Check to host a student for the previous or current year you will need to submit another for your Volunteer file. State Department regulations require that the registration processes for Volunteers and Host Families be separate and distinct. Background checks cannot be transferred to other files.
Compliance Requirements: For some applicants, additional review may be necessary.
Once you have completed the forms in these tabs, you are ready to click the ‘Submit’ button located at the top and bottom of each tab of the application.
Hosting Operations staff will review the application. If the application is incomplete the applicant will receive an email with a request for new information. If the application is complete the applicant will move to the next stage of the registration process.
Completing an application for volunteer registration does not mean that you have been registered. Applicants will receive a confirmation email indicating the completion of the registration process. AFS-USA has the right to determine the suitability of each applicant.
Implications of Registering
AFS-USA respects your privacy and only staff employed to manage your volunteer registration will have access to your information. Some information may be disclosed to relevant third parties in order to process your application. Once you have been approved to volunteer, some information that will be relevant for you to perform your role will be shared with AFS-USA staff and volunteers.
As a registered AFS-USA volunteer, this means that you:
- Are covered by AFS insurance policies when performing your voluntary role
- Meet state and federal laws regarding work with international youth
- Will be supported in your AFS-USA volunteer role
- Will have access to Global Link/MyAFS
Volunteer Registration Checklist
Volunteer Resources developed a 'Registration Checklist' to assist staff and volunteers in tracking the registration and re-registration process of new or returning volunteers. The checklist can be found in the Service Case Detail of the volunteer. Please click here to view detailed instructions on how to access and use the Volunteer Registration checklist.
I’ve Registered, Now What?
- Look through the Help & Learning Center and start here (Understanding the Basics) to learn more about AFS-USA, its programs, and volunteering.
- A volunteer from your team will contact you and talk about your interests and how best you can become engaged as a volunteer in the team or chapter.
- Request an assignment that suits your interests, but expect that the area volunteers will probably like for you to start with some roles with a smaller scope while they get to know you.
- Remember to follow the Volunteer Agreement.