The Peace Corps promotes world peace and friendship by making available trained volunteers from the U.S. to help people of interested countries under conditions of hardship as necessary. The work is generally related to social and economic development. Volunteers work with governments, non-government organizations, non-profit organizations, schools, and entrepreneurs in education, business, information technology, agriculture, and the environment.
Although the Peace Corps is an independent government agency, Peace Corps volunteers are not Federal employees. Each Peace Corps Volunteer program participant is an American citizen, typically with a college degree, who works abroad for a period of two years after three months of training.
AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) was founded in 1965 as a domestic version of the Peace Corps. VISTA members make a 1 year full-time commitment to serve at nonprofit, faith-based and other community organizations, or public agencies to create and expand programs that ultimately bring low-income individuals and communities out of poverty. VISTA members serve only in the United States. Volunteers must be U.S. citizens, nationals, or lawful permanent resident aliens.
Agriculture-related volunteer activities for either organization can include:
Peace Corps and VISTA volunteers may be hired without posting a vacancy announcement on www.usajobs.gov. They can be hired through a streamlined process called Noncompetitive eligibility (NCE) which is a special hiring authority to appoint RPCVs and Peace Corps staff and VISTA volunteers to certain federal positions. Federal agencies may hire NCE’s without going through the traditional competitive hiring process. Hiring agencies must clear federal placement assistance programs prior to hiring through the noncompetitive process. The hiring agency must have an open, classified position and the candidate must meet minimum qualifications and eligibility requirements.
Peace Corps Volunteers
Returned Peace Corps volunteer (RPCV) who have successfully completed their service (12 months) are granted 1 year of NCE which can be extended up to 3 years for military service. RPCVs must present a Description of Peace Corps Service letter (DOS) signed by country director of the RPCV’s country of service.
Peace Corps Staff Members
Peace Corps staff members who have successfully completed 36 months of continuous service (without a break in service of three days or more) also receive noncompetitive eligibility when applying for federal positions. They retain this sta¬tus for three years (no extension) from date they separate from the Peace Corps. Staff members must present a certification letter docu¬menting their status from Peace Corps’ Director of Hu¬man Resources Management.
AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service (VISTA)
VISTA volunteers who have successfully completed their service (12 months) are granted 1 year of NCE which can be extended up to 3 years for military service. VISTA volunteers must present a Certification of Service Letter (COS).