Introduction to the Au Pair Program
*** BEWARE OF SCAM ***
Agent Au Pair wants to make sure that au pairs are protected from fake host families that are trying to commit fraud and misuse our agency name! We’ve noticed that there are people on social media who try to directly reach out to au pairs pretending to be a host family. NEVER pay any money directly to a family – if the situation sounds too good, it’s most likely a scam.
If you have been contacted by a family outside of our matching system, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to verify that they are signed up with us.
Au Pair Program Information
If you are in an emergency situation, please contact your local representative. Should your local representative not be available, you may call our 24h emergency number 1-415-376-0202.
If there is no answer, please leave a detailed voice mail or send a text message. If you do not reach someone immediately- do not panic but leave a message and call or text again soon. Remember, this phone number is for emergency purposes only. For any non-urgent matters please call +1 (415) 376-0202.
Envisage Global Insurance
224 First Street
Neptune Beach, FL 32266, USA
Insurance Portal: https://www.envisageglobalinsurance.com/student-zone/agent-aupair/
- View your fill plan certificate
- Access your ID card and visa letter
- Claims information center
- Find providers in your area
24 Hour Emergency Contact: (800) 605-2282 USA
For non-emergency situations contact insurance via email Agent Au Pair | Contact Us – Envisage Global Insurance
Au pairs are required to attend a meeting every month to check in with their Local Coordinator about how they’re adjusting to the US and answer any questions they might have. These meetings are part of the program requirements from the U.S. Department of state. If you miss more then one Monthly Meeting you may not be able to extend your program due to being in violation.
Can I return to the United States on the Au Pair Program for a second time?
According to the rules and regulation of the Au Pair Program, au pair’s commit to the program for 1 year with the option to extend for an additional 6, 9, or 12 months.
If you have already taken part of the Au Pair Program in the United States, you are able to return to participate in a second au pair program. To apply to the program again, you must have successfully completed your first au pair program and you must have lived outside of the United States for 2+years.
Conflicts can arise between host families and au pairs when needs or expectations aren’t being met. The Agent Au Pair team is here to make sure you have a successful year and will help resolve a conflict if any occur. The first step you should take to resolve the conflict is to sit down and communicate with your host family to express your concerns and needs.
If the conflict continues, you should contact your Local Counselor to assist you in resolving the problem. If the conflict continues, after 30 days, the conflict will be escalated to management to assist and determine the root of the conflict. If you are in a urgent situation, your Local Counselor will contact Management immediately for resolution.
If the conflict cannot be resolved after the mediation period, the au pair can enter rematch only if she is in good standing and attempted to resolve the conflict with their host family.
Please understand that your health insurance will end with the last day of your program (end date on your DS2019 form). So should you plan to take your 30d travel period, you will no longer have health insurance during those additional days in the US. While being insured during this time is not mandatory, for your own safety Agent Au Pair recommends for you to purchase health insurance coverage during your travel month. You will receive additional information, as well as suggestions for coverage, from Agent Au Pair once your return flight has been booked.
As stated in your handbook, many Au Pairs have a driver’s license from their home country, and if they are expected to drive in the USA, they should get a state driver’s license from the state they are living in. This will help ensure they are familiar with the local rules and road signs, and a state driver’s license may be required for the host family insurance. Getting a local state driver’s license within 30 days of arrival is a good idea.
Please check with the Department of Motor Vehicles manual in the respective state regarding laws and requirements for J-1 international cultural exchange visitors, as each state may have a different definition of “visitors” or “residents.” International Driving Permits (also known as International Drivers’ Licenses) are not recognized in most states (including California).
A written test is usually required and can be studied online as a first step. The Au Pair will go into the DMV and take and pass the written test. Then, the Au Pair will have to take a driving test in the car, so it is recommended that the Au Pair be prepared and get lots of experience on the roads and with the car she/he will be driving before taking this portion of the test.
To get started, visit the Department of Motor Vehicles website for your state (e.g. the California site is www.dmv.ca.gov). The “Driver License” section will provide information for study, links to schedule the test, and a list of material to bring to the appointment. The items Au Pairs are required to bring include their social security number, passport with valid visa, and I-94 form (stamped inside the passport). If the passport does not have entry/departure information, you will need to bring your I-94 form.
To obtain your I-94, visit https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov and enter the following:
- Country of issuance
- Birth date
- Most recent date of entry
- Passport number
- Class of admission (i.e. visa type = J1)
You will be able to immediately print/save the I-94 after completing the online form.
Should you be involved in a car accident, it is most important to first check if anyone has been injured. If anyone is hurt and is in need of medical attention, call 911 immediately. Also call 911 to report the accident. Calling 911 is free and will connect you with the local police. If at all possible, do not move the car until the police arrived so they can assess the scene.
Also, you will have to exchange information with the driver(s) of any other car(s) involved in the accident. You should exchange the following information with each other:
- First name, last name, contact phone number, license ID number
- License plate number, the model and year of the car
- Registration number and expiration date
- Name of the car insurance company as well as the policy number.
You should also exchange information (name, phone number, address) with anyone who has witnessed the accident. This information might be needed in case there are any additional questions from the police or the insurance regarding the accident. Also, it might be a good idea to take pictures of the damages as well as the accident scene in general.
Should you ever hit a car that is parked and you cannot find the owner of the car you damaged, you need to leave a piece of paper on the car (e.g. under the windshield wipers) with your name and contact information so the owner of the damaged car can contact you. You should also write down the license plate number and model of the car that you hit. You might also want to take a picture of the damage. Please note that not leaving your contact information or reporting the accident is considered a crime.
When driving a car you need to make sure that it is insured and covers you as the driver of the car, as well as any passenger, in the event of an accident. Speak with your host family before starting to drive to confirm that you are added to the insurance and to discuss with them where important insurance information can be found.
As part of the J-1 visa program, au pairs are required to complete an educational component at an accredited post-secondary university:
- Au Pairs are required to take at least 6 semester credits or 72 hours at an accredited post-secondary university.
- TutorCare Au Pairs are required to take 12 credits or approximately 160 hours at an accredited post-secondary university.
- Credit Course: Generally any course that is offered to a full-time student for which a school has assigned a set credit value that the student will receive upon completion. We will count the credits that the school assigned to the course.
- Non-Credit Course: A non-credit course is a course that a school has not assigned a set credit value to. These are usually offered through the community or continuing education departments of colleges and universities. We will count the classroom hours of the course since no credits are assigned to the course and go by the educational standard that 12 hours = 1 credit. A noncredit course might also be offered for continuing education units (CEU1). We will count 1 CEU = 1 credit if it is offered through a post-secondary accredited institution.
Au Pairs must complete their educational hours 30 days prior to the end of their program, and will have to send their transcripts to the Agent Au Pair office.
An I-94 is an arrival/departure card. It is a record of when you entered the U.S., and when you are expected to depart.
It is recommended that au pairs apply for a Social Security Number at the beginning of their program. Social Security Numbers are needed for au pairs to obtain a driver’s license in most states, apply for classes, open a bank account, and file taxes. To obtain a Social Security Number, au pairs will have to fill out the Application for a Social Security card. Au Pairs will be issued a restricted Social Security Card called ‘Valid for work only with DHS Authorization’.
For more information please visit the Social Security Administration website: www.ssa.gov
In order to get a Social Security Number, the SSA must be able to verify the au pair’s visa status. Au pairs should wait at least 10 days after they entered the United States before applying for a Social Security Number. The SSA needs to verify the au pair’s status with the Department of Homeland Security, and cannot do that until the au pair is in the United States for at least 10 days. If the au pair cannot be verified, they should ask to have their status verified through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). To find a SSA office near your host family, visit the SSA website to enter your host family’s zip code to find the closest office location.
Information on obtaining a social security card
To apply for a Social Security Number, au pairs must have the original documentation below (no copies are accepted):
- Passport (with visa)
- DS-2019 form
- Agent Au Pair Program Participation Letter
- I-94 (can be obtained here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/recent-search
The social security office will be verifying the au pairs Sevis status before a Social Security Card can be issued. If there is any difference in information, the social security office might deny the applicant a social security card or they may request additional information (will be manually verified) which will substantially delay the process of obtaining a social security number.
If your social security card is being denied please contact Agent Au Pair for further assistance.
Agent Au Pair recommends to keep your passport in a safe place and to only bring it with you when absolutely needed (e.g. while traveling). Should you drive in the US you will have obtained your US drivers license which can be used as identification (ID). If you do not have a US drivers license you should consider applying for a US ID card which can be used as identification.
Should your passport get stolen you should report it to the police (file a report). If you lost your passport filing a police report will not be needed. Regardless of whether you have lost your passport or whether it got stolen, you should inform your local representative as well as the Agent Au Pair office about it. Further, you will need to contact the embassy/consulate of your home county in order start the process of replacing your passport. You can find a list of foreign embassies in the US and their contact information here: Embassies and Consulates in United States | GoAbroad.com.
If you lost your passport, you will also no longer have your US visa. While replacing your passport will be a somewhat easy process, replacing your visa won’t be. In order to obtain a new visa, you will have to return to your home country (once you have received your new passport) and have to apply for a new visa. Please note that there is no guarantee that a new visa will be granted, so this will be a risk. Without a valid visa you will not be able to return to the US. On the other hand, if you remain in the US with no visa, you will be able to stay in the US legally and finish your program, however, you will not be able to travel outside of the US anymore.
Due to this, it is best to keep your passport in a safe spot at home and to use another form of identification (US drivers license or US ID card). It is also recommended that you take a copy of your visa and your passport.
Opportunities After Your Au Pair Year
ECA’s Office of Alumni Affairs has started MentorTalks, a new, interactive event that puts exchange program alumni in touch with extraordinary mentors on a wide variety of topics. Alumni get a chance to learn a little about each mentor and their career, and then ask them questions on their topic, all in 15 minutes.
The series runs on ECA’s Facebook page – https://m.facebook.com/InternationalExchangeAlumni/
All previous MentorTalks are available to view at: https://alumni.state.gov/enabling-entrepreneurs/mentortalks
Agent Au Pair advises that au pairs and host families to speak with a tax professional to discuss specific tax information as tax laws differ in every state. We are happy to share general guidelines regarding host family and au pair taxes.
Agent Au Pair’s Tax ID: 94-3407180
Tax laws differ in every state, Agent Au Pair advises that au pairs and host families to speak with a tax professional to answer any specific tax questions that they may have.
Au pairs receive a Workbook during the Au Pair School informing them of their responsibility to pay taxes. Agent Au Pair recommends that au pairs save up to 2 weeks’ stipend in case they owe taxes. Below is useful links for au pairs when filing taxes. Taxes are due April 15th for the prior year’s earnings.
Most au pairs will fill out form 1040NR-EZ. This is the Federal Income Tax form for Non-residents.
Agent Au Pair’s Tax ID: 94-3407180
Tax laws differ in every state, Agent Au Pair advises that au pairs and host families to speak with a tax professional to answer any specific tax questions that they may have.
The best resource for you to find out about taxes is the website of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). On their website, https://www.irs.gov/ you can find general information about taxes as well as a special section for Au Pairs, https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/au-pairs, where you can find a lot of information and resources.
If you have any tax related questions, you can contact the IRS directly via their website or via phone at 1-800-829-1040. Otherwise we, again, always recommend to contact a tax professional to discuss your taxes.
Generally, au pair wages are not subject to social security and Medicare taxes because of the au pair’s status as a J-1 non-immigrant and as a non-resident alien. However, if the au pair had previously been in the United States as a student, teacher, trainee, or researcher in F, J, M, or Q non-immigrant status, then the au pair might be a resident alien during her/his current stay in the United States, and might be subject to social security and Medicare taxes. Please contact a tax professional to discuss your tax situation to determine whether your host family must withhold social security and Medicare taxes. The host family will need to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if they are required to withhold tax and file Form W-2. The au pair will need to apply for a U.S. social security number.
The IRS considers pairs as employees of the host family. Due to this, au pairs are required to file US individual income tax returns. For this, au pairs will need to have an overview of their weekly stipends (income) which they receive from their host families. Almost all au pairs are able to use the form 1040NR-EZ to file for their tax returns. The form as well as instructions to fill the form can be found on the IRS website, https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040esn.pdf. If you need assistance filing for your tax return, please contact a tax professional.
To travel outside of the country during the first year of your program, au pairs must send their DS form to the Agent Au Pair Office 30 days prior to traveling. Please also include a return envelope with your original DS Form.
Agent Au Pair does not recommend au pairs traveling internationally during their extension year.
You can travel outside the country within your first year if you have your DS2019 signed before you leave the country. You can mail this to: Jodi DiMauro 837 Whalley Ave, New Haven, CT 06515. You should not travel outside the country during your extension year other than to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands.
To travel to other countries during their second year, the only way to guarantee the au pair gets back into the United States if if they return to their home country and renew his/her Visa before re-entering the United States
- When traveling internationally, make sure your passport is still valid. Your passport should still be valid for a minimum of 6m when re-entering the US.
- If you are travelling internationally, make sure to gather all the needed information on travel restrictions and visa requirements. Your US visa does not give you the ability to enter any other country except for the US. The best way to find out whether or not you will need a visa for the country that you plan to visit (and how to apply for it) is by contacting the country’s embassy in the US. If you, for example, plan to travel to Canada, you should contact the Canadian embassy in the US to find out whether you need to apply for a visa when traveling to Canada. You can find a list of foreign embassies in the US, including their contact information, here: Embassies and Consulates in United States | GoAbroad.com.
- Make sure to always take your original documents with you when traveling. Photocopies are not valid travel documents.
- Make sure your DS2019 form has been signed for travel by Agent Au Pair within the last 6m. If it has not, mail your DS2019 form to the Agent Au Pair office no later than 30d before your planned travel.
- If you lost your passport during your 1st year you will have to get a replacement passport. Your replacement passport will not have a visa in it so you will not be able to travel internationally anymore.
- Approval to re-enter the US (even if you have all the needed paperwork) is always with the immigration officer at the U.S. border. Agent Au Pair has no control over this and cannot reverse any decision made by an immigration officer. Due to this, please always remember that international travel includes a risk of not being able to re-enter the US.
- Also, airlines will check your paperwork before allowing you to board your flight. Even if you travel to a country participating in the visa revalidation, airlines might not allow you to board their flight with an expired visa. While the risk of not being allowed to re-enter after having visited a country participating in automatic visa revalidation is small, there still is no a guarantee that you will be allowed to re-enter.
Have you always dreamed about visiting the Hollywood sign, walking around Broadway or visiting the Grand Canyon? Your Au Pair year is your chance to travel the US- either with friends, your host family or by yourself!
To make the most of your time in the US, please make sure to discuss your vacation dates with your host family early on. Remember, vacation days must be taken at a mutually agreed upon time.
The US has a lot to offer and you might be overwhelmed by all the different sights the US has to offer. Please find some resources to plan your travel throughout the US below!
You should be able to travel outside of the US during your first year, as long as your visa in your passport is still valid upon your return to the US. Please note though that the final approval for re-entering the US is always with the immigration officer at the U.S. border. Before traveling internationally, please make sure:
- That your travel dates have been approved by your host family,
- That your passport is still valid (not expired),
- That your J1 visa in your passport is not expired (it needs to still be valid at the time you re-enter the US),
- That the ‘entries’ section in your J1 visa is marked with an ‘M’ (meaning you are allowed to enter the US multiple times under this visa),
- To send your original, most recent DS2019 form to the Agent Au Pair office no later than 30d before your intended trip to have it signed for travel (if your DS from was signed for travel within the past 6m you will not have to send it again as signatures are valid for up to 6m),
- That you secure any necessary visas for the country that you intend to visit (you will be responsible to research any entry requirements and stay current on any changes in requirements)
- To take your passport with your visa, your DS2019 form (signed for travel by Agent Au Pair within the last 6m) and your I-94 with you. You can get your most recent I-94 here: I94 – Official Website.
***Please note that international travel during the extension year is not recommended.
When extending for a second year, Agent Au Pair is only able to extend your DS2019 form. With the extended DS2019 form you will be able to remain in the US legally and to continue the Au Pair Program. However, your visa in your passport will have expired within your 1st program year. Without a valid visa you will not be able to re-enter the US which is why international travel is not recommended.
Should you still plan to travel internationally, you will have 2 options:
1. Visiting a country that is participating in the automatic visa revalidation
Even when your visa expires with the end of your 1st year, you should still be able to visit any of the countries participating in the automatic visa revalidation during your extension year.
Please note though that the final approval for re-entering the US is always with the immigration officer at the U.S. border. Also please make sure to send your most current DS2019 form to the Agent Au Pair office no later than 30d prior to your trip to have it signed for travel (signature valid for 6m). You should also print a copy of the automatic visa revalidation fact sheet and take it with you on your travels: https://www.agentaupair.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/automatic_revalidation_fact_sheet.pdf
Countries participating in automatic visa revalidation include:
- Caribbean Islands (Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Cuba Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Marie-Galante, Martinique, Miquelon, Montserrat, Saba, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Christopher, Saint Eustatius, Saint Kitts-Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Maarten/Saint Martin, Saint Pierre, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands and other British, French, and Dutch territories or possessions bordering on the Caribbean Sea)
Please note that you will only be eligible for automatic visa revalidation if you are traveling to any of those regions for less than 30d and have your valid DS2019 as well as your I-94 with your while travelling. You can get your most recent I-94 here: I94 – Official Website (dhs.gov)
There are certain cases when you will not be eligible for automatic visa revalidation. Those cases are:
- When you have applied for a visa status change (please note that Agent Au Pair has to be informed of this immediately),
- You left the Au Pair program and your program has been terminated,
- You have left the US for more than 30d,
- You are a citizen of one of the following countries: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria.
- You can also find more information here: Travel | ICE.
2. Applying for a new J1 visa (not recommended! Please contact Agent Au Pair before attempting)
It is possible to return to your host country to apply for a new visa for your extension year. This will be the same process and cost as when you applied for your first year visa. However, there is no guarantee your visa will be approved which is why we do not recommend taking this risk. Should your second visa be denied, you will not be able to return to the US. Please note that you will also still have to meet all the program requirements, including the age limit, when re-applying.
***If you consider returning to your home country to apply for a new visa, please contact Agent Au Pair before doing so to discuss risks and timelines.
Upon successful completion of your Au Pair program, you will be eligible for your travel month. Your travel month is a 30d period after your program end date in which you are allowed to remain in the US to travel. Your DS2019 form as well as your visa will have expired already. Due to this you will not be able to re-enter the US (also not from any countries participating in automatic visa revalidation) but can only travel within the US. Also, your health insurance will have ended already. You will receive information for optional health insurance coverage from us once your return flight has been booked. While coverage is optional, we strongly recommend it so you are safe during your travel month.
About 4m prior to your program end date you will have received your Departure Documents. Those documents also include a departure request form. Should you decide to take your travel month (and Agent Au Pair has confirmed you have completed your program successfully), you can choose a return date anywhere between your program end date and up to 30d after it. Please note that it is recommended to not fly out on the very last day of your travel month in case there are flight cancellations or delays.
Should you plan to travel within the US and you would like to return home from an airport which is not the closest international airport to your host family’s home, approval from Agent Au Pair is needed and you might need to pay a surcharge.
For example: the closest airport to your host family is New York but you plan to travel to Hawaii and request a flight home from Hawaii instead of from New York. Prices to travel home from Hawaii might be significantly more expensive than traveling from New York. Agent Au Pair will compare prices and will let you know if there is a price difference. You can then decide to pay the price difference or to change your departure airport.
The US has a lot to offer and you might be overwhelmed by all the different sights the US has to offer. Please find below some resources to plan your travel throughout the US!
The Benefits of Volunteering During your Au Pair Year
Volunteering is a great way to get the most out of your experience in the U.S.A. while making new friends and helping others. Here is some information to learn more about volunteer opportunities and how to get started in your community! Helping other can provide you with a sense of purpose. It doesn’t have to be a long-term commitment; volunteering for a few hours a week or month is a great way to enjoy volunteering instead of it feeling like a chore.
Benefits of Volunteering:
- Connects you to others in the community who share your interests
- Brings fun and fulfillment to your life and allows you to volunteer for something you believe in
- Allows you to work on your English Language and Cross-Cultural Communication Skills