Nannies working in the US? J-1 Au Pair Program for US Caregivers

We have written extensively about the Canadian Live in Caregiver program for “nannies” wishing to work in Canada and eventually to apply for Canadian Permanent Residence.

Below is some information about what the US has to offer for nannies, more frequently, called Au Pairs.

J-1 Visa Au Pair

The J-1 Au Pair is  a U.S. Department of State program.  The client is eligible for a J-1 Au Pair.  She must do it through a State Dept. approved sponsoring organization, a list of which are at the following link:

As immigration counsel, we would handle the application with the sponsoring organization and assist throughout the process.  The average processing time has been about 4-6 weeks.  However, there are some minimum prerequisites before she starts, depending on the age of the children in her care (Please see below italicized “Important Program Information” & “Environments in which Au Pairs Cannot Work” – U.S. State Dept.).

There is also a requirement to attend classes, which is a plus in this case.  If the Au Pair wants to study extensively, she should care for school-aged children and go through the Edu Care program, as described below.

Au Pair Edu Care Program

Through the Au Pair program, foreign nationals between 18 and 26 years of age participate in the home life of a host family. Au pairs provide limited childcare services for up to 12 months. An extension of 6, 9, or 12 months may be granted in certain cases. Contact your sponsor organization for more details about program extensions. Au Pairs must be proficient in spoken English and must be a secondary school graduate or equivalent. They must also complete at least six hours of academic credit or its equivalent at an accredited US post-secondary educational institution. The EduCare component of the AuPair program is for foreign nationals providing childcare for school-aged children. The EduCare participant must complete an educational component of at least 12 semester hours of academic credit or its equivalent.

Important Au Pair Program Information

Au pairs receive training from the sponsor organization in child development and child safety before being placed in a host family. A minimum of eight hours of child safety training is required. Of those eight hours, at least four hours must deal with infant safety. Also, au pairs must receive a minimum of 24 hours of child development instruction. At least four of those 24 hours of training must relate to children under two years of age.

Childcare cannot exceed 10 hours per day, and a maximum of 45 hours per week. Au pairs are paid for their work according to the Fair Labor Standards Act as interpreted and implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Environments in which Au Pairs Cannot Work

Au pairs may not be placed:

* With a family that has an infant less than three months old unless a parent or other responsible adult is at home;

* In homes with children under two years of age unless the au pair has at least 200 hours of documented infant childcare experience;

* In families with a special needs child, as identified by the family. The au pair can work with a special needs child if s/he has identified prior experience, skill, or training in caring for special needs children. In this case, the the host family must review and acknowledged the prior experience, skills, or training in writing; and

* In the homes of relatives. Please refer to the regulations for details.

Host Family Requirements

Host families are required pay up to $500 toward the cost of the au pair’s required academic course work. Host families and au pairs must sign Host Family-Au Pair Agreements prior to the au pair’s placement in the host family’s home. In the event of questions regarding refunds or other adjustments, host families and au pairs should refer to their agreements. The Department of State does not have jurisdiction over contractual obligations.


The Au Pair program includes the EduCare component. EduCare is only for families that require childcare before and after school. EduCare au pairs may not be placed with families that have preschool children except if other, full-time childcare plans have been made.

The EduCare au pair may work no more than 10 hours per day, and a maximum of 30 hours per week. Au pairs participating in the EduCare component receive 75 percent of the weekly rate paid to non-EduCare participants. EduCare au pairs must complete a minimum of 12 hours of academic credit or its equivalent during the program year. The host family is required to provide (up to) the first $1,000 toward the cost of the au pair’s required academic course work. Please refer to the regulations for details.

Regulations for the Au Pair category are found at [22 CFR 62.31].

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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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