What is an Au Pair?
By definition an Au Pair is: “a young foreign person who helps with housework or child care in exchange for room and board.” An Au Pair must come through a federally regulated program to obtain the specific visa for this exchange. The program also provides them with support, safety, training, social connections and insurance. The program helps support the family and regulate the terms and rules of the program implemented by the family. Au Pair participants continue their education, improves their English and experiences everyday life with an American family through this exchange. The host family receives reliable and responsible childcare from individuals who become part of the family.
What is an au pair program?
Au Pair Programs regulated by the U.S. Department of State. The agencies are the designated program sponsor. The programs enforce program rules to help protect the au pairs and your host family. The only legal way to be an au pair in the USA on a J-1 visa is through a designated sponsor such as Cultural Care Au Pair, Au Pair Care or some of the other various approved programs. You cannot legally obtain an au pair on this type of visa without going through a regulated program.
How to pick the right program?
There are quite a few programs available. From personal experience, I highly recommend Cultural Care Au Pair and Au Pair Care, though there are more to choose from. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details on why I recommend these programs and my referral code!
(See the bottom of this article for all the agencies)
What are the requirements to become a host family?
Let’s start at – you must have kids. Ya know, people in the house under 18 years old. JK. But, seriously. Au Pairs on J1 visas are not meant to care for elderly adults or disabled adults at this time.
The host parents must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents and speak fluent English. Also, all adult family members that live in the home must be personally interviewed by an organizational representative before matching with an au pair. Host parents and other adults living full-time in the home have to successfully pass a background investigation including employment and personal character references. The host family must have adequate financial resources to undertake all hosting obligations.
The kids must be of a certain age – au pairs are not allowed to care for infants less than three months old on their own. Families must provide the au pair with a separate bedroom (a proper bedroom with required egress – you cannot stick them in a windowless basement…), and all their meals. They must also attend 6 credits of school so you have to be close enough to a school to make that possible.
How do I get started?
Sign-up for the program(s) you want to work with. You can sign up for more than one! Although you may pay twice on registration fees, you do have a better chance of finding the right match. Au Pairs only sign-up for one program, so you won’t be the same girl on two sites. Also, the programs waive the sign-up fee a lot through promotions. Inquire with the program if they are offering any discounts on your registration fee if you don’t see one advertised on their homepage!
What do I have to do once I register?
Well, there is a lot of writing. I recommend getting out a blank word document and putting together the information for you to copy and paste over so you don’t have to do it multiple times or risk losing everything you wrote when the page doesn’t save accidently! You are going to have to write about your family, your traditions, routines, rules, the area you live in, etc. You want to be honest, clear/direct and obviously, put your best foot forward! You are selling them as much as they are selling you! Be ready to share a bunch of cute photos of your kids/family to make your photo album as well! Expect they will ask you for personal and professional references and personal information on all the members of the household.
Au Pair Agencies:
- Agent Au Pair
- Au Pair In America
- Cultural Care Au Pair
- Cultural Homestay International Au Pair USA
- EurAuPair Intercultural Child Care Programs
- Au Pair Foundation
- InterExchange Au Pair USA
- USAuPair, Inc.
To read more about becoming a host family – check out my other posts here!
Childcare: Everything You Asked About Au Pairs
Childcare: How to Find the Right Au Pair