Au Pair in the USA – Live The American Dream

Here, you can learn more about becoming an Au Pair in the USA, working hours, wages, the agency and more... The chance to let your American dream come true. You will be part of an American host family and have the opportunity to come to know the American way of life by being Au Pair in the USA!

Au Pair in the USA - At A Glance

  • Age: Between 18 and 26 years old
  • Duration of Stay: At least 12 months (plus additional month for traveling if wanted); an extension of 3, 9 or 12 months is possible
  • Working Hours: Up to 45 hours a week but no more than 10 hours a day
  • Holidays: Two weeks of paid vacation per year; at least 1 1/2 days off per week and one full weekend off per month
  • Travel Expenses: Usually, your host family pays for your flight ticket
  • Insurance: Your host family will cover your insurance fees for the time you work as their Au Pair; after that you have to insure yourself at your own expense
  • Pocket Money: $780 per month ($195 per week)
  • Visa Requirements: You need a J-1 Visa to legally work as an Au Pair in the U.S.; in order to apply for a J-1 Visa, a certified Au Pair agency is needed!About the Program “Au Pair USA”

The program “Au Pair USA” is a good opportunity for everyone who likes to work and be with children and wants to discover a foreign country and its culture.

The American country offers a great variety of landscapes and climate areas.
You can either live on the east cost and experience life for instance in New York City or the capitol of the United States, Washington D.C.. Or, you can spend your time at the sunny beachside of Florida or explore the great national parks in the Golden State.
The United States of the USA have a great vartiety of things to offer for you to explore in the course of your journey through the country.

Life in the USA gives you the chance to experience the 'American Way of Life' first-hand and let your personal 'American Dream' come true. You will participate in national holidays like Thanksgiving or go "trick-or-treating" with your host children on Halloween.
Whether your spend your year in one of the American metropolis or on a farm in the suburbs, you can be sure that you will have a grat time and acquire great experiences.

The Au Pair will have the chance to stay up to 12 months or even longer in the USA, to live with a family, get free board and lodge and in return help the family in caring for their children.
This time abroad will bring you many new experiences; you will become more independent, self-confident and be able to improve your language skills. The work schedule of an Au Pair is up to 45 working hours per week. However, you should not work more than 10 hours a day.
Additionally, you get pocket money that gives you the opportunity to arrange your free time as you like. In your leisure time you have the opportunity to join qualification courses as for instance a language school.
You will meet many other Au Pairs from all over the world and make international friends. Of course some of the above mentioned points depend on the way you plan the journey.

Can I become an Au Pair in the USA?

To take part in this program all participants need to fulfill some requirements, such as:

  • You have to be 18 years old and shouldn't be older than 26 years
  • You love spending time with children and caring for them
  • You have to have at least 250 hours experiences in childcare (the more you have, the better)
  • Driver's licence and driving experiences
  • Without any criminal conviction
  • You have to be in good health
  • Good proficiency in English
  • Hold at least an intermediate school certificate
  • Non-smoker
  • Unmarried and no children of your own
  • Apply for a J-1 visa with a certified local Au Pair agency

More info about requirements for Au Pair in the USA here.

Au Pair in the USA with a certified agency

In the USA the whole process to become an Au Pair or a host family is regulated by the government. The law allows only officially checked young people to work as an Au Pair in the USA.
They want the Au Pairs and host families to be checked by an approved local agency, so that they can be sure that the participants are suited to take part in the program.
Only through the placement with an agency the Au Pair gets the official (J-1) visa and can legally work and stay there for 12 months.

The placement through a certified Au Pair agency has several advantages.
First of all, it gives you a certain level of security. Finding your host family through an agency means that you can be sure that your agency checked the host family in the application process so that you don't run the risk of falling a victim to scammers.
The agency will not only check the host family but also their home in order to ensure that you will be accomodated in a suitable room.

Moreover, traveling to the U.S. with an agency will cost you a lot less than organizing everything yourself. Agency fees range between approximately $600 and $1.700, depending on your agency's benefits.
Your local Au Pair agency will also guide you through the application process for your visa and aid you in gathering all the necessary documents. They will also help you with questions that might occurr in the course of your application.

Apart from that, your local agency will also have a reliable contact person for you in your area.
Your local consultant will meet with you shortly after you arrived in the U.S., who will organize monthly Au Pair meetings in your neighborhood. These monthly Au Pair meetings are a great opportunity to meet other Au Pairs and make new friends.
You can talk to your local consultant if you shouldn't feel comfortable, are homesick or have any problems with your hostfamily. They will also support you, should you need to/want to change your host family.

Again, be aware that you need a placement via an officially accepted agency in order to get the J-1 visa!

However, it is possible that you use an online matching agency to find a host family. This prematching allows you to find a host family on your own terms.
Once you found a future host family via an online machting agency and when you and your host family agreed that you should become their Au Pair, you both need to find a certified Au Pair agency in order to process the placement.

Otherwise, you won't be able to get your J-1 visa and will not be allowed to enter the United States and work there as an Au Pair.

You can find a list with certified and designated sponsor agencies here.

What are my duties as an Au Pair?

Your duties and responsibilities depend greatly on your host family's needs and their daily routine.
Your main task will be to take care of your host children, who should be like a younger brother or  a younger sister to you.

This includes playing with them, going to the nearest park with them, doing crafts with them, help them with their homework and take them to extracurricular activities or play dates. You might also need to help them to get ready in the morning or take them to bed at night. Another one of your tasks might be to prepare light meals or snacks for your host children.
As an Au Pair in the USA, you are also asked to fulfill minor household duties such as doing the children's laundry, cleaning up the children's bedroom(s), emptying the dishwasher and helping with some minor shopping for the children or household.

Your working hours per week will be up to 45 hours. However, you should not be working more than 10 hours per day. Please contact your local consultant if your host family asks you to work more than 10 hours per day.
They can, however, also ask you to watch the kids in the evenings for up to three nights a week, if your working hours do not exceed a total of 10 hours per day in total.

Here you will find more info about Au Pair duties in the USA. 

Visa Requirements

If you are not an American citizen or a resident of American territory, you need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa in order to be able to enter the U.S. and work as an Au Pair in the USA. The visa you need to apply for is a so called J-1 Visa.
The J-1 visa is a visa for participants of an exchange visitor program, such as an Au Pair program.

In order to apply for a J-1 visa, you need to obtain a Form DS-2019, which needs to be filled out by the sponsor of the exchange program (your Au Pair agency) as well as the participant.
Your local Au Pair agency will send you the Form DS-2019. If you have any questions about the Form DS-2019, please contact your local Au Pair agency.

After you received the Form DS-2019 from them, you can start applying for the J-1 visa on the website of the U.S. Embassy. There, you need to make an appointment for an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate closest to you (Munich, Frankfurt or Berlin).
Make sure that you have all required documents with you and check out the security notice of your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Common questions for the interview are "What is your host family's name?", "What are your host children's name(s)?" and "What do you want to do after you return to your home country?" in order to ensure that you have the intention to only come to the U.S. to work there as an Au Pair and return to your home country after your stay.
After the interview, the Consular Officer will decide if you receive the J-1 visa. After the Officer's approval, your passport will be send back to you via mail.
Thus, keep in mind that this might take a few days (usually between 3 to 10 work days) and that it takes a while before you get your passport back.

Your visa is valid for 12 months. If you stay in the U.S. for more than 12 months, you need to extend your visa. If you plan on arriving prior to your Au Pair stay or want to travel afterwards, you can do so. The J-1 visa allows you to stay in the U.S. 90 days before/after your Au Pair stay.

Since recently, it is also possible to return as an Au Pair to the USA on a J-1 visa if your last stay as an Au Pair was at least two years ago. Hence, after two years, it is possible for you to work as an Au Pair in the USA again.

College Courses for Au Pairs in the USA

As already mentioned above, you need to attend college classes to meet the visa requirements, as the J-1 visa is a student exchange visa.
Make sure that the courses you attend meet the visa requirements. Your local consultant will be able to provide you with information on where you can find appropriate college courses in your area. Often, there is a vast offer of college courses designed especially for Au Pairs.

Most popular are courses like the "TOEFL preparation course" or language classes. But you are completely free in the decision what courses you want to take, depending on what interests you. These college courses are a great opportunity to meet new Au Pairs in your area.

If you attend a college course for 10 hours per week or more, you are eligible to still receive child allowance for the time of your stay abroad.

How much pocket money will I get?

Working Hours per Week Paid Weekly? Pocket Money per Week
No more than 45 hours Yes $195.75

You will get a weekly pocket money of $195.75 when you work as an Au Pair in the USA.
Additionally to your weekly pocket money, your host family will pay for up to $500 of the tuition fees of your college courses.

As your host family provides you with free board and lodge, you are free to spend your entire pocket money on what you wish. Most Au Pairs decide to save some money throughout their year so that they are able to use their additional month for traveling across the country.
During your year, you are entitled to two weeks of paid vacation, which you can use for traveling as well. Besides these two weeks, you also get at least 1 1/2 days off per week and one complete weekend per month.

Some host families allow their Au Pair to use the host family's car in their free time, but this is optional and depends on your host family. They might either allow you to use the host family's car for free or you have to pay for your own fuel.

Your travel expenses are usually covered by your agency so that you don't have to pay for your flight ticket. This also accounts for your health insurance.

At A Glance:

  • weekly pocket money of $195.75 (approx. $780 a month)
  • 1 1/2 days off per week
  • one complete weekend off per month
  • 2 weeks of paid vacation per year
  • free board and lodge
  • you host family will pay for up to $500 of the tutition fees of your college courses
  • use of the host family's car (optional)

How much does it cost to become an Au Pair?

One of the main questions that Au Pairs ask themselves in the course of the preparation of their stay abroad in the U.S. deals with the costs they need to expect when they become an Au Pair in the USA.
Due to that reason, we have an overview of the main cost points for you.

However, keep in mind that the list below is merely meant to give you an overview about the costs that you have to take into account. The costs vary depending on, for example, the fee (and benefits) of your Au Pair agency, if you participate in a preparation workshop etc.

At a Glance:

  • Fee for your local Au Pair agency
  • Fee for the interview with your Au Pair agency (amount depends on your agency)
  • Travel expenses to the interview at the US Embassy (Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt) for the visa application
  • Fee for your visa ($160)
  • Remaining amount of the tuition fee for your college courses (your host family covers up to $500)
  • Travel expenses to the airport prior to your departure (your host family pays for your flight ticket)
  • Additional health insurance (if necessary)
  • If you want to extend your stay, you need to pay a fee for your visa extension ($367)
  • Depending on the benefits of your Au Pair agency, you might need to pay for your travel expenses from your host family to the airport in New York at the end of your Au Pair stay
  • Fee for a preparation workshop (optional)

What about the insurance?

Your local agency will cover the fees of your health insurance for your time abroad. Contact them for detailed information on the insurance's benefits and how to obtain your insurance card.
Please note, that your host family only insures you for the 12 months which you work for them. If you plan on traveling across the country after these 12 months, make sure that you have an insurance for the time you travel. 

Au Pair Blog - Share your experience!

Have you spend a year as an Au Pair in the USA and would like to share your experience with us? We would appreciate it if you shared your testimonial with us so that we can share it with future Au Pairs and help them to prepare for their stay abroad.
You can share your experience with us via the comment area below.

Do you have an online blog about your time as Au Pair in the USA and would like to share it with us and future Au Pairs? Use the comment area below to shre the link to your blog with us so that we can post it on our website.

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3 Comments

  1. Right now I’m already living in California as an au pair with a really nice family. We wanna extend my aupair contract here and where wondering if it’s possible to switch the agency for that? Do I need to travel to my home country to get my j1visa extended and could you please send me further details about fees, time of extension and the process of switching the agency for me and the host family!

    • Dear Emely,
      to extend your visa you shouldn´t change the agency, that would cost your host family a lot more money. For a visa extension you don´t have to travel to your home country. Your host family should contact the agency and they will organize everything you need for your visa extension.

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