Worldwide Company Volunteering: A Paid Work Overseas Program

Going to work abroad for a break, a change of scenery or improving your skills, your language level… This is possible thanks to international volunteering in companies. There is no need to have student status, for a few months you will be paid to carry out the missions entrusted to you.

Supported by Pôle emploi and managed by the public agency Business France, land VIE (International Business Volunteering) is a statewide program which allows all young French people from 18 to 28 years old to carry out professional assignments in companies abroadfor a fee.

LIFE in a nutshell

Founded in 2000, VIE serves around 10,000 youth each year. By becoming an international volunteer, you will discover a job, another country and another language… According to Business France, 92% of young people are recruited at the end of their mission.

Volunteering lasts between six and 24 monthsrenewable once for a maximum period of two years, with a minimum of 183 days abroad if assignment requires working days in France.

In total, 118 countries are open to VIE (and VIA – international volunteering in administration). Bonus: During their mission, volunteers are under the protection of the French Embassy.

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What are the conditions to benefit from the VIE?

You must be between 18 and 28 years old (departing no later than the 29th birthday)… but that’s pretty much the only criterion. If you have a bachelor’s degree or a bac+5, scientific, technical, commercial, cultural or humanitarian missions are available to you.

The program works for French citizens, but also for citizens of a country in the European Economic Area. Another criterion to be met: having completed the JDC (defense and citizenship day) and having a clean criminal record.

Certain conditions may be required by the host company (language level, etc.). Knowing employers’ expectations the website “My international volunteering”, managed by Business France, allows you to search for job offers.

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VIE, a paid program

A VIE is not a volunteer. The volunteer works for a fee, more precisely a “fixed-amount maintenance allowance”. It is not a salary, as there is no incidence of social contributions and the amount collected is not taxable. This amount varies from one company to another, depending on the destination country.

The common subsidy, which is the same for all volunteers, is 723.99 euros in 2022. Added to this is the variable part that depends on the country and “currently varies from 746 to 4,223 euros”, according to Business France, that is, a total of 1,500 to 5,000 euros in compensation.

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Is it possible to work side by side?

Please note: no, it is not possible to combine the VIE with another paid activity, it is the full-time equivalent. If you are an employee, you have to leave your job to go to LIFE.

But the latter entitles you to 2.5 days of vacation per month, and work is taken into account when calculating pension entitlements. In addition, some schools “accept that the VIE counts as a final internship abroad”, emphasizes Business France. Interesting for those who are afraid of straying from their field of study.

annotate: there is also international volunteering in administration, with the same principle, but within a French administration. In total, 135 countries are open to the VIA, and you should know that the opportunities are lower than for the VIE, as Pôle emploi reminds us, because the State recruits employees through competitive examinations.

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