The Au Pair Program is a great option for your family’s childcare needs, but it is also a wonderful opportunity for your children to learn about foreign cultures and languages.
“Au pair” is a French term that means on par or equal. Au pairs are visitors from overseas who travel to the U.S. on a J-1 Visitor Exchange Visa to acquire a better understanding and appreciation of American culture and life, while living with an American family and caring for their young children. In order to participate in the au pair program, candidates must apply through a designated agency like Au Pair International. They must also meet a set of minimum requirements and adhere to U.S. regulations and agency rules.
Our au pair candidates are young women and men that enjoy, and have a genuine interest, in working with children. They represent diverse cultural, social, economic, and educational backgrounds. They also hold a common interest in living with an American family to expand their cultural awareness.
During our interview and admissions process, we select caring, responsible, and mature young adults of good character who have a strong desire to work with children. Many au pairs possess a valid driver’s license as well as an International Driver’s license. Some candidates are students taking a “gap year” from their university studies, while others have been employed or are entering the work force, and others want the au pair experience before they decide on a professional career.
Au pairs come to the U.S. on a 12-month exchange program, with the potential to extend their time for 6, 9, or 12 months once they have successfully completed their first program year. After their program, (whether they complete 12, 18, 21, or 24 months) they have a 30-day grace period that permits the au pair to stay or travel in the U.S. Au pairs have the option of returning to the U.S. for new terms as an au pair participant, as long as they meet the requirements.
Au pairs may provide childcare and light childcare-related housework for the host family, for up to 45 hours per week and up to 10 hours per day. Au pairs offer live-in childcare, and therefore, have more flexibility to care for your children at the times that accommodate your family’s schedule.
Au pairs may have a wide range of responsibilities related to your children. An au pair provides busy parents with a much needed “extra set of hands.” Duties can include childcare and light housekeeping related to childcare such as doing the children’s laundry and cleaning up after them.
Au pairs should not be expected to run an entire household. The responsibility for raising the children and the welfare of the children always remains with the parents/guardians.
Please see Benefits of Hosting to discover more ways an au pair can assist your family!
THE MATCH PROCESS
Please see Participant Requirements for more details regarding host family responsibilities.
Au Pair Selection: Host Families must review au pair applications and interview the au pair by phone before a match can take place.
Newborn children: An au pair cannot have the sole responsibility for an infant younger than three months of age. A parent or other responsible adult must always be present.
Children under two years of age: Au pairs who are to be placed with a family with a child younger than 2 years of age must have at least 200 hours of documented infant childcare experience. Please see our Infant Specialized Au Pair Program.
Special Needs: As the care for special needs children varies, the host family must describe the special needs of the child and any special care needed, and have reviewed the au pair’s experience, skills and/or training and acknowledge this as suitable for the care of their special needs child.
DURING YOUR EXCHANGE PROGRAM
Host families must facilitate and assist the au pair in fulfilling program responsibilities, including the educational requirement and monthly meetings/contacts. Please see program regulations for details. Host families should also note the following factors before their au pair arrives:
Equal family member: It is important for host families to include their au pair as an equal and allow her/him to have an active and ongoing social life throughout the program. This principle is the foundation for the au pair program and a key factor for the program’s success and growth.
After arrival: Your local representative will call you and your au pair within 48 hours of arrival and schedule an orientation meeting with you and your au pair within two weeks. A responsible adult must be present in the home for the first 3 days after arrival. This can be the host parents or other adults. This is required by regulations, so you should plan the arrival date with this in mind.
Schedule: Present the au pair with a written schedule, not to exceed 10 hours per day and up to 45 hours per week.
Insurance: Basic health insurance is provided for the au pair. The host family must include the au pair under their automobile insurance if the au pair is allowed to use their motor vehicle.
Educational requirement: Each au pair participant must register and attend classes offered by an accredited U.S. post-secondary educational institution for not less than six (6) semester hours of “academic credit, or the equivalent” during his/her 12-month au pair program. The host family contributes up to $500 towards the au pair’s education requirement (up to $250 towards a 6-month extension).
Ongoing Contact: A local representative will maintain contact once per month with the host family, and facilitate a host family gathering at least once per year. Monthly in-person gatherings will also be scheduled for the au pair to attend where he/she will have the opportunity to be-friend other local au pairs.