A year as an Au Pair in the United States brings adventure, cultural exchange with a family connection, and a perfect introduction to living and working in the USA. Find out the requirements for Au Pairs in America and learn what applicants need to be aware of.
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Au Pair programs in the USA are a win-win situation for all parties involved: young people with childcare experience can live and work in the USA for 12 months or longer without much effort. In return, their American host families get the support they need in family life.
Benefits for Au Pairs in the USA include professional childcare training and preparation courses, appropriate compensation for working within the host family in the USA, and free room and board.
Au Pairs are placed through official agencies designated "Au Pair Sponsors" by the U.S. Department of State. Anyone who is not a US citizen and is not in the USA on a student visa (F-1 visa) can, in principle, apply to work as an Au Pair. However, there are additional requirements.
For an application to an Au Pair agency, the interested person should fulfill the following requirements:
An Au Pair travels to the US to live with a host family and care for their children for up to 45 hours per week. In addition to care, light household duties related to the host children may also fall under the Au Pair's responsibilities.
Where the duties of an Au Pair begin and end is often a matter of personal agreement between the Au Pair and the host family. Rough guidelines can be found on the websites of Au Pair agencies and the U.S. Department of State. Generally, all of the Au Pair's activities should revolve around childcare. Examples:
|Task||Is an Au Pair responsible for this?|
|Cleaning up the children's room||yes|
|Washing/sorting children's laundry||yes|
|Setting and clearing the table at family dinners||yes|
|Washing the car||no|
|Driving children to school||yes|
|Daily scheduling for the children||yes|
The U.S. Department of State plans to publish an official set of Au Pair rules that will simplify arrangements between Au Pairs and their host families and protect foreign caregivers from disadvantage.
The duties of an Au Pair host family in the USA include, above all, the provision of appropriate accommodation (private bedroom), including meals, the payment of the Au Pair's pocket money, and the correct familiarization and support in case of questions.
In addition, some paperwork is involved even before an Au Pair is hired in the United States, as the host family acts as the employer here. The host family must initiate employment eligibility verification via Form I-9 with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Furthermore, Au Pair host families in the USA must:
In addition, the Au Pair's host parents must provide home orientation for the first three days after the foreign caregiver's arrival. If any children are younger than three months in an Au Pair household, a parent or other adult must be present at all times in addition to the Au Pair.
When searching for Au Pair programs, you will come across the term EduCare, among others. This is an alternative to the classic Au Pair program, where fewer hours are spent working on childcare, leaving more time for further education at universities or other educational institutions.
Au Pairs participating in the EduCare program under 22 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations), § 62.31, provide only up to 30 hours of child care instead of the estimated 45 hours per week. However, slots for the EduCare program hosted by the U.S. Department of State are limited and only available in some US states.
As with all exchange programs, the year abroad in the USA stands and falls with the appropriate residence permit. If you do not have a Green Card and therefore don't possess an unrestricted residence and work permit for the USA, you must apply for a J-1 visa as an Au Pair.
The stay in the USA with a J-1 visa is strictly limited in time: the Au Pair year can be extended for another 12 months. However, for most program participants, the year of care is only supposed to be the beginning of their life in the USA. Most Au Pairs already apply for a Green Card before the beginning of their year abroad.
The planning, preparation, and the start of an Au Pair year in the USA can vary from agency to agency. However, every Au Pair program includes the following steps:
Many Au Pair agencies agree to let candidates for an Au Pair year look for a suitable host family before consulting the organization. Also, many potential host families do their research to find candidates who would be a good fit for them rather than relying solely on the matching of an agency.
Thus, it is common for families and their Au Pairs to "fall in love" with each other long before an agency gets involved. Then, the rest of the Au Pair process is just a bit of paperwork.
Key to know: There is an agency requirement for the Au Pair year in the United States. So once families and caregivers have found each other, they must consult an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of State to start the process.
When searching for a suitable Au Pair organization for the USA, you must limit your search to authorized agencies that comply with the U.S. Department of State regulations (22 CFR § 62.31). Current State Department-approved agencies (as of October 2022) include:
Once a suitable agency has been found, the next step is to fill out extensive application forms. To determine the suitability of an Au Pair applicant, the agencies will conduct surveys, interviews, and psychometric tests.
If the Au Pair and the host family have not found each other beforehand, contact between the parties can be established after the aptitude tests. This matching process also takes into account personality traits such as language skills and hobbies, and there are get-to-know-you meetings by phone or video chat.
Once the suitability of an Au Pair candidate has been determined, and the host family and nanny have found each other, the Au Pair agency, host family, and Au Pair will take care of the necessary preparations. These include:
After the approval of the J-1 visa, which can take a few weeks, nothing is standing in the way of your entry into the USA and your American Au Pair dream.
Do you have further questions about being an Au Pair in the USA? Then you will certainly find what you are looking for in our FAQ.
An Au Pair in the USA receives an allowance of at least $ 195.75 per week, depending on the agreement with the host family. Special skills and a lot of experience can be used for salary negotiations to adjust this Au Pair's minimum wage upwards.
As an Au Pair in the USA, health insurance is usually arranged by the Au Pair agency. Discuss the details with your agency supervisor.
An Au Pair in the USA usually works up to 45 hours per week. When participating in the new EduCare program, these working hours are reduced to 30 hours per week to allow room for further education.
Within a 12-month Au Pair program, you will generally receive ten working days of paid vacation. Days off on public holidays must be discussed individually with the host family.
The more flexible you are in choosing your place of residence in the USA, the faster you will find a suitable host family for your Au Pair stay. As a rule, however, you are free to choose the place to live and work yourself.