The Au Pair category of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program allows young people between 18 and 26 to live with a host family and care for their children in return for room, board, and wages. The key to successfully participating is having all of the necessary documents prepared.
Certificate of Criminal Records
As au pairs enter the country on a visa, they are expected to complete specific Go Au Pair visa requirements, which help ensure their safety and that of their host families. In addition to completing the required language course, au pairs must provide police and medical background checks. These checks are typically more in-depth than those needed by babysitters or nannies and are used to safeguard au pair and family well-being.
The host family and the au pair must detail the daily work schedule, including how many hours per week the au pair is to work and which days they will have off. The au pair also receives a reasonable amount of pocket money each month. The au pair should not have any relatives up to the third degree and must be prepared to live in a different household for at least one year.
The Au Pair category of the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program allows a young person between 18 and 26 to work for and live with an American host family in exchange for room, board, and pay. Applicants must complete their first year of participation in the program while adhering to U.S. government and agency regulations. Upon completion, participants may extend their time in the United States for 6, 9, or 12 months. However, the visa will remain at the same end date printed on Form DS-2019, and participants cannot work during their grace period.
Once matched with a host family, the au pair must submit an online application and two fully biometric passport photos. The photos must have a white background and be 35×45 mm in size. They must also be recent and have not been digitally retouched. Additionally, the photographs must not have any coatings that lessen adhesiveness. Once an applicant is accepted into the Au Pair program, they must have a valid passport to enter and stay in the United States for at least one year. During the visa process, it’s important that applicants understand what is and is not permissible in terms of work, travel, and educational opportunities.
Invitation Letter From the Host Family
The Host Family must write a letter expressing their desire to host an Au Pair, including why they would like to invite them into their home. This letter needs to be notarized.
The letter must state that the family understands that the Au Pair will be responsible for childcare responsibilities and is aware of federal regulations prohibiting Au pairs from working more than 45 hours per week and 10 hours per day on childcare tasks (a babysitter works much less and nannies work full time). Applicants must bring this letter to their U.S. Embassy or Consulate interview. They will also need to bring Form DS-2019, passport, photo, and proof of binding ties to their country of origin (evidence of a strong tie may include investments, property ownership, or a job).
The interview with the consular officer lasts only a few minutes, and the consular officers confirm that (1) the applicant is a good fit for the Au Pair program based on goals, experience, and education and (2) that they have the financial means to participate in the program. The interview also includes confirmation that the applicant understands the benefits and responsibilities of participating in the program and agrees to return home after their exchange. This is important because participants who do not return home after their exchange program violate visa rules and hurt future candidates.
Au Pair Contract
As an au pair, you must sign a contract with the host family that outlines your obligation. It is a good idea to send the contract to the au pair early so they can sign it and take a copy with them when they go to the embassy to apply for their visa.
The Au Pair contract must clearly state that the Au Pair will provide childcare services and undertake housework only related to childcare. It should also state that the host family may only ask them to do tasks within their scope or ability. This is an important part of the agreement as it protects the host family and au pair.
Once you have the above documents, it is time to start finding a suitable host family for your Au Pair experience in America. An au pair agency will help you find a host family that suits your needs and wants, and you can then meet with them for an interview to get to know each other better. During the interview, the host family will describe their lifestyle and discuss what you can expect from each other during your au pair year. Once matched with a host family, you must attend the au pair training school and program orientation that an agency provides.