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Special Volunteer Program

Special Volunteers (SV) are individuals who volunteer his or her time to conduct research services, direct patient care, technical assistance, or any other necessary services for NIH. SVs are not financially compensated by NIH for their services nor does NIMH provide health insurance. All special volunteers on a visa must have valid work authorization. Visa assistance  is provided to those who qualify.

Special Volunteers may receive support from outside sources with approval. Volunteer services may be accepted from any individuals who are:

  • Donating their services as members of volunteer or charitable organizations
  • Offering their services on their own time, for example students
  • Receiving fellowship or stipend support from outside organizations with whom they have non-employment relationships
  • Employees of outside organizations on sabbaticals or leaves of absence
  • Federal employees volunteering services unrelated to their official duties and responsibilities, outside of their normal work hours

NIH Manual 

There are no deadlines for applications as they are accepted on a “rolling admission” basis. Special Volunteers who have found a match with a Principal Investigator will be asked to sign a volunteer agreement and, if enrolled, submit paperwork from their school to ensure that proper credit is given.

To submit an online Special Volunteer application, visit the NIMH Student IRTA/Special Volunteer application at

Stipend and health insurance is not offered by the NIMH for Special Volunteers. Those who volunteer for more than a four-month appointment may receive either a parking pass or Transhare.
For additional information on Special Volunteer program and those requiring visa assistance please contact Aneka Reid in the Office of Fellowship Training.