How To Sponsor a Caregiver In the USA

Sponsor a Caregiver In the USA

Many people find themselves in need of a caregiver, whether for themselves, their children, a parent, or a disabled relative. Meanwhile, in addition to the challenges of managing childcare when many families have both parents working, AARP reports an impending shortage of family caregivers, in a country where a large portion of the population is approaching old age.

AARP states that “the supply of family caregivers is unlikely to keep pace with future demand,” with the ratio of caregivers 45-64 to individuals in the “high-risk years of 80-plus” predicted to rise to 4 to 1 in 2030. As a result, more people are expected to require institutional care rather than care by family members.

If you are considering looking outside the United States for possible caregiver options, you can go about sponsoring a caregiver in a few different ways. Each visa option comes with advantages and disadvantages, but once you know the requirements, you will be better able to determine which is likely to work for your family. Here are two of the common visas used to sponsor a caregiver.

J-1 Visa

This visa is helpful if you don’t have a specific foreign caregiver you would like to employ. With this visa, a family finds a caregiver through the Au Pair program.

According to the website for The U.S. Department of State’s Exchange Visitor Program, the program pairs program participants with a host family. The program participant works as an au pair for the family while studying abroad, providing “reliable and responsible childcare,” while the host shows the au pair “everyday life with an American family.”

The family does not sponsor the au pair directly. Instead, program sponsors are tasked with screening and selecting both the host family and the au pair. In addition to other duties, the sponsor provides the au pair with training in child development.

Au pairs must be secondary school graduates (or the equivalent) 18-26 years old who can speak English. They must be interviewed in person in English by an “organizational representative” (who will provide a report to the host family) and pass a background investigation. They are expected to both study and work while in the United States. Au pairs stay for 12 months, with the option to extend the visit by another six, nine, or 12 months.

Host families must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents who speak English fluently. In return for the assistance of the au pair offers, the family must provide a private room and board, a weekly stipend, and up to $500 toward the au pair’s required academic work, as well as facilitate the requirement that the au pair be enrolled at and attend an accredited post-secondary institution. The program has specific requirements regarding minimum time off for the au pair and requires that the family include the au pair in “family meals, outings, holidays, and other events” whenever it is possible to do so.

H-2B Visa

This visa allows a family to sponsor a specific caregiver themselves, though the process is more complex. As U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) explains, the visa allows certain employers to hire foreign nationals to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs. In this case, the family sponsoring a caregiver would need to prove that there are not enough U.S. workers who can do the work and that hiring a worker through the H-2B program will not “adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The family must also show that their need for the caregiver’s services or labor is temporary as well as provide a valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). USCIS states that there are three major steps to the process:

1. The petitioner (in this case, the family sponsoring the caregiver) submits a temporary labor certification application to DOL.
2. The petitioner submits Form l-129 to USCIS.
3. Prospective workers outside the U.S. apply for a visa (or  admission to the United States in H-2B classification with CBP in cases where a visa is not required).

There is an annual cap of 66,000 H-2B visas (H-2B workers “identified as ‘returning workers'” are exempt). It is also important to check whether the caregiver you wish to employ is from a country on the H-2B Eligible Countries List.

We Can Help With Caregiver Sponsorship

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Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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