If you want to live in America but haven’t been to college, and you can’t get sponsored for a working visa, an Au Pair program could be for you.
So you want to be an Au Pair?
You can be an Au Pair in many countries, but I chose the United States since I’d been there before, and I was desperate to get back and do some more traveling. It’s also quite difficult to get a work visa for North America.
There are a lot of Au Pair companies, some well-known and professional, and some…well…dodgy. I went with Au Pair America which was the first legal company started in 1986, but some of the others include Au Pair Care, Culture Care, Inter-exchange, USAupair and Au Pair international.
In order to meet the program requirements, and qualify for a visa, you need to be between the ages of 18 and 26 and have the following:
- A full drivers licence
- No criminal record
- “Some English” Although some of the Au Pairs arrive and just mime everything for the first few months.
- No husband or kids
- Graduated High School
- 200 hours of childcare experience in the last three years (this cannot be with family members)
Basically the more hours of experience you have the better, and you need a bunch of references from your childcare experience as well.
Once you submit your initial application, someone from the agency should contact you for a phone interview. From there you’ll need to fill out the actual application form.
The application form is completed online. It’s very long, and they practically want to know what you had for breakfast that morning. You will need references (they will ring them), photos, high school certificates, psychological testing, medical history, and an interview with a local counselor. You’ll also need to write a letter to your prospective host parents telling them about yourself and even (cringe) make a home video.
After your application has been uploaded, it’ll be available for families in the States to look at. If the families like your application they will email you with their details and once you have read their profile, you can decide if you would like to talk to them.
After the you’ve talked to them, if both you and the family are happy you can match with them, or ask for a few days so you can talk to some other families.
Once you’ve matched with a family, you just need to take your flight and arrive at Orientation, where you’ll be prepared for some of the situations you’ll face in your year as an Au Pair.
For more information, take a look at some of my other posts on life as an Au Pair in America