How to become an au pair in United States of America?

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step by step to get to United States of America

Au pair

find family / au pair, sign contract

Together with the invitation letter, the host family should send the au pair a signed contract in order for the au pair to apply for a visa. 

invitation letter

  • The au pair must have an invitation letter from the future host family in the USA: the future host family will need to send the au pair an invitation letter in order for the au pair to prove that he or she will be working as an au pair in the USA.


Au pair participants on a J-1 visa are required to carry medical insurance at the minimum benefit levels stated in the program regulations. Program sponsors are required to ensure that all participants have the appropriate medical insurance. They will verify that the participants medical insurance meets the regulatory requirements and will facilitate the purchase of coverage to participants who do not have their own insurance, or whose coverage does not meet the following requirements:

  • Medical benefits of  at least 100K per accident or illness
  • Repatriation of remains in the amount of 25K
  • Expenses associated with the medical evacuation to his or her home country in the amount of 50K
  • A deductible not to exceed $500 per accident or illness


An au pair is always admitted into the United States on a J-1 visa.

When applying, the au pair must submit to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate the following:

  • DS 2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status. A SEVIS-generated Form, DS-2019, is provided to you by your program sponsor, after the sponsor enters your information in the SEVIS system. All exchange visitors,  must be registered in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Work Travel Program participants' Form DS-2019, Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status, will be sent by your U.S. program sponsor directly to the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will apply for your visa.
  • A passport valid for travel to the U.S. and with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the U.S.
  • One (1) 2x2 photograph. 
  • Find out if there are any additional documentation items required by reviewing the U.S. embassy or consulate website.
  • The au pair must demonstrate to the consular officer that they have binding ties to a residence in a foreign country which they have no intention of abandoning, and that they are coming to the U.S. for a temporary period. 

See also arrival and departure forms.

The wait time for an interview and processing for a J-1 Visa varies from country to country and is based on the au pair's individual circumstances. Learn more about interview wait times by visiting this site.

further documents

  • At least two child care references showing at least 200 hours of experience working with children.
  • A valid driver’s license
  • A valid passport.
  • Proof of good physical and mental health, and do not have any health problems that could be an obstacle to living and working abroad.
  • No criminal history

organize trip

The trip will normally be organized by the au pair, of course in accordance with the host family.

Even when everything is clear and all questions are asked, it's good to stay in touch until the journey starts - it's important that also the children get to know that a new au pair is coming and communicating from time to time through Skype is a good way to get used to each other.

start journey

Check with the airline and travel agent to determine the current luggage allowance to your destination.

For custom rules and regulations, check with the embassy from the country you plan to visit. Or you can check with the specific accommodation/tour company that you plan to stay at or use. They should be aware of the current rules at the specific time you are traveling.

step by step once you're in United States of America

Au pair


  • Passport: make sure you have a valid identity card or passport with you so that you can travel and stay in the host country.
  • J-1 -visa
  • Take at least one credit card
  • Take a mobile phone with you: it is important for you take a phone with you so that you and the Host Family get to reach each other any time. In most cases, the host family will pick the au pair up at the airport / train / bus station but if that is not the case make sure you will be able to contact them.   
  • Write down your Host Family's home address: writing the host family's home address will give the au pair the possibility to be able to get to the host family's home independently if needed. 
  • Write down the embassy's phone number: if a visa has been issued for you to become an Au Pair, the embassy may help you in case of any problem.

residence registration

Electronic records on J-1 visitors are maintained in Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program by their program sponsor. J-1 visitors must report certain information, such as a change in legal name or a change of address, within 10 days. Failure is considered a violation of the J-1 visitor's immigration status and may result in the termination of the visitor's exchange program.

work permit

 J-1 visa, coupled with the DS2019 form allows the au pair to work in the U.S. (see above in visa section for more info)

bank account

Au pairs are able to open a US bank account provided they have first obtained their Social Security Number. It is often a good idea for an au pair to choose the same bank at which their host family banks. 

Each bank is different and may require different or additional documentation (particularly forms of identification) from the list provided below.

Check your chosen bank's requirements online before going in person to open your account.

  • Your passport 
  •  J-1 Visa
  • DS-2019 Form
  • Your Social Security card 
  • Your full name, living address in the U.S., phone number, place of employment
  • Government ID from your home country 
  • A credit card (if you have one—can also be used as a form of ID)

driving a car

If driving is part of the au pair’s child care responsibilities then a car must be provided. All other car access is coordinated between the au pair and host family. Any au pair driving in the U.S. must have auto insurance coverage and a driver’s license (either international license or state license depending on state law).

Driving rules and regulations

elongate visa / apply for residence permit

When the host family and au pair are in mutual agreement with regard to extending the 12-month stay, then there is the option to extend 6, 9, or 12 more months

The request for an extension beyond the maximum duration of the initial 12-month program must be submitted electronically to the Department of Homeland Security's Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) no less than 30 calendar days prior to the expiration of the au pair's initial authorized stay in any program.

social welfare system

The Social Security Administration will issue a "Valid for Work Only With DHS Authorization" social security card to any au pair participating in a Department of State authorized au pair program. To apply for a restricted working social security card, an au pair must go in person to the local social security office in his/her community. He or she can go four days after arrival in the United States with the following documents:

  • Valid passport
  • DS 2019 form
  • I-94 card print out from the cbp website
  • Proof of identification that is at least one year old (e.g. passport, driver's license, birth certificate)

step by step to change family in United States of America

Au pair

find new family

Have a look at our tips, how to change family!


Au pairs in America are among the select few in-home care programs which offer Personal Liability Protection for its participants. Au pairs are covered for up to $100,000 under a U.S. basic insurance policy (automobile coverage not included). This is increased protection benefits for host families and au pairs.

residence registration

Au pairs can contact the State Department at any time via the hotline 1-866-283-9090 or at for advice on rules and or regulations for participants from the au pair's respective Country.

step by step to leave United States of America

Au pair

de-register residence

Au pairs can contact the State Department at any time via the hotline 1-866-283-9090 or at for advice on rules and or regulations for participants from the au pair's respective Country.

See also arrival and departure forms.


Au pairs can contact the State Department at any time via the hotline 1-866-283-9090 or at

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Hi, my name is Taina Karttunen

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