An Au Pair is an individual who travels to the United States to live with a host family and help them with tasks such as child care and light housework. As an Au pair, you will not pay rent but will have a chance to tour and explore the country. The government and participants have designated Au pairs in the US to come from different countries worldwide. However, for entry and stay in America, one needs a Visa.
The government has an exchange visitor program that enables the Au pair program participants to use the J1 non-immigrant visas. The J1 Visa allows the AU pair to live in America for one year while living with the host family. The J1 Visa is not automatically awarded to individuals who are interested in the program. Therefore consulting a California Immigration Attorney is Crucial.
Overview of the Au pair Program
The United States Government administers different programs that allow individuals from other countries to experience life in America. The au pair program is one of the cultural exchange programs facilitated through a j-1 non-immigration visa. The program allows individuals to spend twelve months living with a host family to provide child care and housework services. The au pair will have an opportunity to attend class from a university or college while experiencing life in the US.
An au pair will receive these benefits on completion of the program:
- A weekly stipend
- Academic credit
- Experience in childcare
- Professional childcare training
- A paid vacation
- Up to $500 to pay the cost of academic training
- A full weekend of each month
- Accommodation where they do not need to pay rent
- An experience of how it feels to live in the United States for an extended period
After twelve months, the au pair should return to their country. Like other programs, being an au pair has eligibility criteria that you need to meet to participate.
- You must be an adult between the age of eighteen and twenty-six years.
- The participant of the program must have completed high school.
- Be able to speak fluent English. This will help in both communications with the family and enrollment for a college education.
- Should be physically capable of taking care of young children
- Should have a criminal record
- One needs to be experienced in child care.
Depending on the family that will host you, you should have experience caring for special needs children and have a driver's license. Also, one should enroll in a designated program sponsor, which will act as an intermediary between the Au pair and the host family. The sponsor organization will help an individual acquire the J-1 Visa required to travel and stay in the United States for the exchange program.
Sponsor organizations work to screen all potential participants in the au pair program to ensure they are suited for child care services. A sponsor organization carries out background checks on an individual before connecting them with an immigration attorney to ensure they are eligible for the J-1 non-immigration Visa.
In addition to giving childcare services to the host family, an Au Pair should comply with the following regulations:
- Work for five hours a week and not more than ten hours in a day.
- Attend a post-secondary school program with a minimum of six credit hours
- The host family must not be related to the Au Pair.
- If the host family has a child below two years, the Au Pair must have at least 200 hours of experience in infant and child care.
The J-1 Visa for an Au Pair expires after twelve months, and if you want to stay longer, you will; need to take the necessary measures to have your Visa extended. Failure to do this can be viewed as an illegal immigrant and face severe legal consequences. Guidance from an immigration attorney is crucial when dealing with a J-1 exchange visitor Visa.
The Process of Becoming an Au Pair in the United States
It is easy to apply and become an au Pair in the United States as long as you meet all the program requirements. You need to follow the following steps to become an au pair:
- Register with a local agency. You cannot become an au pair unless you register with a local agency to place you with a host family and take you through the entire process. When you find it challenging to obtain the relevant requirements, your agency could be a massive support for you.
- After registering with an agency, you will fill out an application form. The team responsible for au pairs in America will contact you to help you complete the application. The agency will have an interview with you to ensure that the information you provided on your experience in child care is genuine. You will then have to wait for the families who have registered with the agency to contact you. You could also research to identify host families who require au pairs. Most families willing to host au pairs register with agencies for you to be legally placed with them.
- A family is identified to host you. After finding the perfect family and feel that you need all the requirements, you can sign a contract and prepare your documents to apply for a J1 visa to travel to the United States.
- Visa application. You cannot travel to the United States as an exchange visitor without a J1 visa. However, you will not just walk into the embassy and secure a visa. You will need all the necessary documents required to apply for a visa on the date of your appointment.
- Au pair training. On arrival to the United States, you may have to take part-time classes for Au pair training.
The Au pair program is legal in the United States, and you need to sign a contract before you begin. Both [arties sign an agreement to ensure that the family follows the rules on:
- Time off
- Working hours
- Pocket money and salaries
- Your responsibilities
When you are registered with an agency, they ensure that you will be placed in another family if your contract is terminated or issues you can't resolve.
J-1 Visa Requirement for an Au Pair
If you are hoping to travel to the US as an Au pair, you must obtain a J-1 exchange visitor visa. When you have met the Au pair program's eligibility criteria, you will choose a sponsor to supervise your application. The program sponsor will review your application and issue you with a Form DS-2019. This form contains:
- Your identification
- Identification of your sponsor
- A description of the program for which you want to part to participate
The duration which you intend to stay in the US
- which will include the exact dates
- Category of exchange program you are planning to participate in and the cost of the program
When you are visiting the US embassy for your Visa, you need to carry the filled DS-2019. You will then have to pay the relevant fees for the Visa, which include:
- A program fee that varies depending on your sponsor
- Visa fees which are intended for processing your non-immigrant Visa and is paid at the embassy
You must submit these documents when applying for a J-1 exchange visor visa:
- DS-2019 form, which is a certificate of eligibility for the Visa
- Form DS-7002, an immigrant visa application
- A passport that is valid six months beyond the end date of the Au Pair program
The Au pair contract between you and the host family is required when applying for a J-1visa. You should check out the US embassy website to ensure that no additional documentation is required. The ties you have to your country should be clear when applying for a visa to participate in the Au pair program. This shows that you will go back to your country after the Visa has expired. It is wise to submit your visa application early since a visa interview may take some time.
At the embassy, you will present all the relevant documents and have a short interview based on the program you are attending. Host families and Au pairs become part of the program for one year. However, when there is an issue that is difficult to resolve, contract termination is possible.
You can increase your chances of a successful interview by ensuring you learn all the information you put on the application form. It would also be best if you were honest to avoid visa denial based on providing wrong information. Consultation from an immigration attorney is crucial when dealing with a non-immigrant visa.
Au Pair Program Costs for Au Pairs
Being an Au pair is a life-changing experience. You will have much fun exploring the US while liv9ng with your host family. However, the program requires a small investment. Au pairs need to pay:
- Application Fee for the program
- Placement fee. The placement fee is paid to match you with a host family and make travel plans for you.
- Visa fees. It would be best to have a J1 visa to travel to the United States as an Au pair legally. You will be responsible for all the costs associated with the Visa, which totals up to around $160
During the year you will spend as an Au pair, the host family will give you a stipend for your services. You can earn up to $10,000 throughout the experience.
J1 Visa Denial for Au pairs
A J1 visa application involves several steps where different documents and forms are filled. Errors or incorrect information provided during the application could cause a denial.
Over the past few years, applications for the J1 Visa have been under intense scrutiny. Even after meeting the necessary visa requirements, you should provide your legitimate reasons for traveling and your intentions to return after your visa expiry. Some of the common reasons that could prompt a J1 visa application for Au pairs include:
Failure to Provide Appropriate Proof of Financial Insurance
Before departing your home country for an au pair program under the J1 Visa, you need to arrange insurance coverage. It would help if you had an accident and sickness insurance. When acquiring insurance coverage, it would be wise to consider your health insurance needs to ensure you have the right policy at hand.
Insufficient Evidence of your Ties to Your Home Country
A J1 visa is temporary, and you are expected to return to your home country on expiry. When you are applying for the Visa to work as an Au pair, you need to convince the consular officers that you have genuine reasons to want to go back home. This can be established by showing important things that tie you to your country or your current residence place. If your reasons are not strong enough to convince the consular, your Visa could be denied.
Having a Similar Country of Origin with the Host Family
The common reason for a J1 visa denial for cultural exchange is when the consular does not believe that your purpose if traveling is for cultural exchange. If you are from the same country of origin as the host family or have a family member living close to the host family, your Visa could be denied.
If you have visited the United States in the past and committed an offense that rendered you inadmissible, your J1 visa application will likely be denied. If you overstayed your visit or were living in America without a valid visa, your visa application may not be accepted. Consulting with an immigration attorney is crucial when applying for a visa to avoid a denial.
Lack of the Relevant Academic Credentials
Each exchange program under the J1 Visa has its qualifications. If you want to be an au Pair in America, you need to prove that you are experienced in child care. Also, you should have completed high school. By producing the relevant academic documents, you justify your eligibility claim for the particular program. Since there are other qualified candidates under the Au pair program, it is crucial to prove your academic credentials qualification.
Lack of Professionalism
Punctuality and professionalism are critical to the success of a Visa interview. You need to arrive on time and wear appropriate clothing. Failure to act or professionally carry yourself could result in denial.
Provision of False Information
Being dishonest in the information you provide during a J1 visa application could be detrimental to your visa chances. Giving force information during your visa application is an offense that attracts more severe consequences than visa denial. Failing to disclose past crimes and convictions or visa denials is considered as being dishonest. Proving the correct information in each stage of your application is in your best interests.
Like other exchange visitor programs, the Au pair program has a deadline for application. You are expected to make your J1 visa application process as soon as possible so that you can be ready before the start date. If you submit the visa application after the program has started, it could face rejection. If the consular officers believe that you will not enter into the US before the program begins, your Visa may be denied.
Failing Security Checks
When you apply for a J1 non-immigrant visa, you will have to go through a security check. The security database contains all the visa applicants' information, and it is not easy to evade the process. If your name has a tag in the system, your application for a J1 visa could be denied.
Even though the J1 visa application process is quite competitive, following the right approach will increase your approval chances. Before starting the application process, you need to review the AU pair program eligibility to ensure you meet all the requirements.
After ensuring that you meet the criteria, you should prepare all your papers. Having your documents ready will ensure no delays and last-minute mistakes that could prompt denial of the Visa.
If your J1 Visa is denied, all hope is not lost. There is an option you can explore depending on the specific reason for the denial. Grounds of rejection will be expressly noted down in writing and verbally. One of the choices you have after a denial is reapplying for the visa.
Unlike other visa types, when your J1 application is denied, you will not need to file a formal appeal. Therefore, you can reapply for the Visa. However, you are expected to correct the mistakes you made before reapplying. You could also secure additional documentation to support your application. When you apply for a J1 visa after denial, you should be open to the previous application's details.
If your visa were denied due to inadmissibility or fraud, it would be difficult to get it even after reapplication. Therefore, you need a legal review to determine whether or not you can overcome other denials.
Due to the wide variety of documents you need to present, the application process for a J1 visa can be strenuous. However, with guidance from a competent immigration attorney, the process could be more comfortable and faster.
Frequently Asked Questions on the J Au Pair
Applying for the Au pair program in the United States may seem like a manageable process since not much education is required. However, the process of acquiring the necessary J1 Visa to travel and stay in the United States could derail your plans. The following are some frequently asked questions on J Au pair:
Do au pairs need a work visa?
You cannot travel, leave alone stay in the United States without a visa. Even though Au pairs only help the host family in minor tasks such as childcare and light housework, you will need a permit. If you want to become an Au pair, you must apply for a J1 visa, which allows you to stay in America for up to one year legally. Enrolling with an official agent will help you go through the visa application process.
How can I stay in the US after the Au pair program?
Prolonging your stay in the United States after your Visa has expired is a federal offense. Staying in the US after the Au Pair program can be quite tricky, but you could legally do so by applying for a green card or obtaining a student visa.
What should I do if I want to be an au pair in the United States?
If you want to be an au pair, you need to register with au pair world and enroll in an agency. The agency will guide you by finding a suitable host family among interested individuals in the US. You will then apply for a J-1 visa, which allows you to travel.
How much will I pay for a J-1 visa as an Au pair?
A J-1 visa is one of the cheapest visas you can obtain to travel to the United States. Therefore all the costs associated with securing the Visa may not exceed $1600. Since you will be paid a weekly stipend while living with the host family, the amount you will spend for visa application is not much.
Find an Immigration Attorney near Me
Entering the Au pair program is an opportunity to live and tour America while living with a host family. However, all individuals participating in the program will require a J1 visa to enter and stay in America within the program's 12 months. Sometimes, the immigration department could deny the Visa due to the individual's criminal and immigration record.
Given the severe consequences that result from not understanding immigration laws affecting au pair visas, it is essential to seek legal guidance. The most crucial thing you could do to give your Au Pair the best chance of receiving the J1 Visa is to have an immigration attorney review your immigration record. At California Immigration Attorney, we take you through the eligibility criteria for the au pair program and steps you could take to increase your chances of securing the J1 Visa. Contact us today at 424-789-8809.