How much experience in childcare do I need as an au pair?

For your application you need two current references from people who are not related to you and who confirm your experience in childcare. These references should be at least 200 hours in total, ideally with children under 10 years of age. That sounds like a lot at first, but after a four-week full-time internship in kindergarten, for example, you have almost all hours together. Regular babysitting also means that 200 hours can be collected quickly. 

Your experience in childcare is not only an important criterion in choosing the right au pair for host families. It is also very important for you, since it is the only way to assess whether the au pair programme is right for you. You will quickly take your host children into your heart, but it is not always easy to look after them. With good preparation and a lot of experience, you can better assess whether you are up for the challenge.

Will I be provided with my own car?

Whether you get your own car is up to your host family. Some au pairs share the car with the family, others have a car at their disposal. If you do not have your own car, you can arrange with other au pairs or friends to pick you up. Driving your own car is a privilege and not an integral part of the au pair programme. 

If you have your own car, you should discuss the rules for using it with your host family at the beginning of your stay. Can you use it for private trips outside of working hours? Who pays for gas? What happens if you are involved in an accident? These are good examples of important questions to address to avoid misunderstandings from the very start.

What happens during my visa interview at the U.S. Embassy?

The actual interview at the American Embassy usually only lasts a few minutes, however, the appointment may involve longer waiting times. Before your interview, your documents will be checked and your fingerprints taken. You will then be asked a few questions. You don't have to be nervous, because the questions are not difficult to answer.

How long do the au pair application and the placement process take?

The duration of the process mainly depends on you. It is possible to go abroad two to three months after your online application. It is important that you meet all the requirements and that you upload/send in all your documents as soon as possible. If you are really fast, you can complete your application within 2 weeks. You must apply for the police clearance certificate and your passport (if you don't have one yet) immediately. We will then arrange an appointment for an interview with you and can make your documents available to interested families abroad. 

The placement process will usually be faster if you have an appealing application, plenty of childcare experience and a lot of driving experience. Host families naturally look at several au pairs and contact those who make the most enthusiastic, mature and child-loving impression on them. After you have matched with a host family, you can apply for a visa and book the flights (we will book them for you if you go to the US). This will take at least another 4-5 weeks. Afterwards, nothing stands in the way of your departure.

Can I receive a second US au pair visa?

Going to the USA for a second time has been possible since 2008. However, there are a few requirements that you must meet in order to apply for the visa again. Your first au pair year must have been completed more than two years ago and you must have lived outside of the United States. Of course, you will still have to fulfill all requirements that were valid for the first au pair year.

How long does it take to receive an appointment at the U.S. Embassy?

The waiting time for an appointment at the U.S. Embassy may vary and can change weekly depending on the number of applications. You can check the current waiting times for your city on the website of the U.S. Department of State.

Can I change host families if we don't get along?

In consultation with our partner agencies, there is the possibility of changing your host family. When different people live together as a family, personalities sometimes clash. 

Nevertheless, we would like to ask you to give your host family a real chance. Please keep in mind that it usually takes a few months to get used to a new environment. It is important that you first discuss problems openly with your host family or with your local counselor to see if solutions can be found. We expect you to give it a try for a minimum period of two months after your arrival. If the situation does not improve, you can go through the matching process again and speak to other families for a period of 14 days. Usually, participants are able to find a new host family within this period, but unfortunately, we cannot give you any guarantees.

Do I have to pay taxes as an au pair in the USA?

Since there is currently no tax exemption limit for au pairs or their income, you will have to pay taxes in the USA retroactively for the previous year. You should therefore fill out the 1040NR-EZ or the 1040NR form by April 15th of each year - you can find more information about this in your MyAuPairCare portal under the category "Resources" in the Au Pair Handbook. At best, you should talk to a tax advisor again in the USA - for example with your host family. The tax laws in the individual states may differ and a tax advisor is familiar with the local situation and can advise you best. We recommend that you set aside approximately US$25 of your weekly stipend to pay the taxes.

Can I schedule an emergency appointment at the U.S. Embassy?

If you want to make an appointment and the only dates available are after your programme start, you have the possibility to request an emergency appointment. In order to activate this function on the embassy's website, you must first schedule a regular appointment (even if you can't make it). Only then will you be shown the option to request an emergency appointment.

When making an appointment you should already have all application documents (DS-2019, etc.) at hand, as an emergency appointment may also open up on the very next day. Please keep in mind that the US authorities will not take into account already booked flights or personal travel preferences. 

 

Can I end the programme early? What are the consequences?

If you decide to go abroad as an au pair, you contractually agree to take care of your host children for 6-12 months, depending on the programme. In most host families, both parents work and depend on your help. If you break the contract and end the programme earlier, you will have to pay for your return flight yourself. You will also not receive a completion certificate. If you end the US programme earlier, the corresponding visa cannot be granted a second time. Please keep in mind how bad it is for children when an important caregiver is constantly changing. 

The au pair programme in the USA is set by the US government to last 12 months (plus a 13th month of travel). Therefore, we cannot offer shorter au pair programmes in the USA. You will successfully complete the US au pair programme if you have lived with a host family for 12 months and earned 6 college credits during the year. The Au pair Australia programme will be successfully completed after at least 6 months. If you extend the programme, it will be considered successful at the end of your extension and the acquisition of additional college credits (USA only).

What are the requirements for host families?

Just like you, host families must meet certain requirements and are subject to an application process. They apply in writing and are then visited by an AuPairCare representative or a representative of our partner agency. Host families must e.g. be citizens of the host country or have an unlimited residence permit. In addition, they must be able to provide you with your own room and have to agree to the rules of the au pair contract.

Can I receive a second working holiday visa for Australia?

In theory, you can also apply for a second or even a third working holiday visa for Australia. However, in order to be granted the visa again, you have to prove that you have done "specified work" (for at least 3 months for the second visa, and 6 months for the third) in a specific field or industry in a designated regional area of Australia. This means that you need to have worked certain jobs, such as farm work, after your stay as an au pair. You can find more information on "specified work" on the Department of Home Affair's website.

How do I deal with homesickness as an au pair?

Every beginning in a new environment is a big challenge. Many things will be unfamiliar to you: food, family life, cultural differences, etc. You have to accept this phase as a normal part of your experience and have patience. Your AuPairCare host family and all other au pairs in the region will understand and support you. Talk to your host family about your homesickness. Everyone will understand that you miss your home. From our many years of experience, we can tell you that homesickness will almost always pass after a certain amount of time.

Do I have to have a driver's license as an au pair?

Yes, a driver's license is absolutely mandatory for all au pair programmes! Before we forward your application to your host country, you must be in posession of a valid license. In most cases, driving the children to various activities or taking them to school will be part of your daily routine as an au pair. 

The distances from A to B in countries like the USA or Australia are usually greater than in European countries and the public transport systems are not as as good.

Can I extend my au pair stay in Australia?

Yes. You have the option to extend your au pair stay for up to 12 months. However, the working holiday visa also allows you to be an au pair for 6-9 months and use the remaining time to work and travel.

Can I attend college courses as an au pair?

US au pairs can and even have to attend college courses during their stay. As part of the regulations for the au pair programme defined by the US Department of State, you must be able to prove in writing that you have attended courses and collected 6 credits or 60 hours at a local US community college during your au pair year. If you extend your au pair year, you will have to attend more courses. Attending college is a great opportunity to learn something new, get a taste of university life and make new friends.

How do I get in touch with other au pairs ?

After you have matched with your host family, we will send you will a list with the contact details of other au pairs in your area. US applicants can find this info in the MyAuPairCare portal. The au pairs will be from your home country, as well as from other countries.

You can also attend the au pair meetings that are organized in your area (monthly events in the US and New Zealand, quarterly meetings in Australia and 1-2 meetings in England). If your host family has already welcomed an au pair before, you can also talk to them.

How am I insured in Australia?

Our programme package includes a 6-month travel insurance which consists of health, baggage and liability insurance. If you wish to prolong your stay or want to travel afterwards, you have the option to extend your insurance package with the insurance provider at your own expense. Find out more about your au pair insurance in our guide.

How is my vacation as an au pair regulated?

You are entitled to a minimum number of paid vacation days which is set in your au pair contract and depends on your destination and the length of your stay. In the US, the number of vacation days is regulated by the rules of the official US au pair programme. In other countries you are free to negotiate certain terms of your contract with your host family, e.g. the exact number of vacation days. 
It is best to schedule your vacation time together with your host family, as they will have to arrange other childcare options during this time. If you are accompanying your host family on holiday trips, you should agree in advance whether this time will be deducted from your vacation days and is intended for you as leisure time or whether you will also work regularly during this time.

 

 

How does the personal interview work during the application process?

AuPairCare has a network of qualified and fully trained representatives across the United Kingdom and Ireland. You will meet up with one of our friendly and competent staff for a personal interview once the first and second part of the application has been completed. The interview will be conducted in one of the following cities: London, Bristol, Liverpool, Glasgow or Dublin.  If you apply for our Au pair Australia programme, the interview can also be conducted via phone or Skype.

The interview will be an opportunity to chat about your childcare skills and your desire to become an au pair in the USA or Australia. It is also the final stage of the application before your application will be sent to our Head Office in the US or to our partner agency in Australia in order to be reviewed there.

 

Do I need to pay taxes as an au pair in Australia?

Any foreigner who stays in Australia with a working holiday visa has to pay income tax. How much money you will have to pay depends on the total amount of your compensation as well as on your programme length. If you make 37,000 Australian dollar or less throughout the year, each dollar will be taxed at 15%.

How am I insured during my au pair programme?

Our Au pair programme package includes an all-round insurance, which consists of health, accident, baggage and liability insurance. The insurance cover is valid for the duration of the au pair programme , i.e. for at least 6 months. Your travel time after the programme is not covered. However, you do have the option to extend the insurance at your own expense. Please read the entire insurance policy carefully before you travel and familiarize yourself with any exclusion criteria. Find out more about your au pair insurance in our guide section.

Where can I gain (additional) experience in childcare for my au pair stay?

A great way to gain (additional) hours for your au pair childcare experience is babysitting in your spare time. This way you not only collect the necessary hours in childcare, but you can also earn some extra money. 

In addition to that you can do internships in kindergartens, daycare centers or primary schools. Working as a counselor or coach for summer camps or children's sports teams, as well as private tutoring lessons for children up to 12 years of age, are also recognised as relevant experience.

How do I apply for my au pair visa in the USA and who will book my flight?

To apply for your visa, you must appear in person at the American Embassy closest to your location. Making an appointment will involve a fee and some paperwork. However, we will provide you with all the support you need, including assistance in completing your visa and all the necessary forms. You will receive the appointment within approx. 2-4 weeks, the processing will then take approx. 5-7 working days. There must always be at least 5 weeks between the match with your host family and your departure, so you have enough time to take care of your visa.

Our American colleagues book the flight to the USA at least two weeks before departure. Details and the electronic ticket can be found online in your MyAuPairCare portal.

Can I open my own bank account abroad?

Yes. We recommend you to open a bank account in your host country.  The documents you need to provide depend on the country and the bank, however you usually need documents such as: your passport, proof of residency/address (UK), social security card (USA), etc. Our tip: Save some money every week so you can afford bigger or unexpected expenses.

 

Can I extend my au pair programme in the US?

Yes, many au pairs extend their stays in the USA. You have the option to extend your au pair year by 6, 9 or 12 months. You are even free to choose if you want to stay with the same family (granted that they approve) or apply with another family in a different region.

What host gifts should I give to my host family?

You don't have to buy expensive gifts. However, we encourage you to find out what your host parents and host children like and give them something with a personal touch. This could e.g. be something typical of your region. If you are going to the US and you are under the age of 21, the gifts should never contain alcohol (wine, chocolates with alcohol, etc.). Gifts are often opened at the security checkpoints at the airport, so don't wrap them up too much. 

Can I choose the city or region where I spend my au pair year?

You should choose a host family that suits you best. Being on the same wavelength and sharing similar ideas are more important than the area in which the family lives. Therefore we do not offer our participants to choose a specific city or region. In a foreign country everything is new and exciting, even in places you don't already know from movies or television shows. Since most of our host families live in the suburbs of larger cities, you are guaranteed to not get bored. You should be open to all regions in Australia or the US and can explore the country on weekends, during your vacation or travel time at the end of your programme.

Do I get a mobile phone as an au pair?

It is possible that you will get a cell phone from your host parents, so that they can always reach you and the children. This will then be your work mobile phone. You must check with your host family whether you can also use this mobile phone for private calls and text messages. In general, however, you should refrain from using it for private calls and messages during your working hours. 

If you are taking your own mobile phone with you, you should check with your provider about international costs or simply buy a local SIM card. 

Do I need certain vaccinations as an au pair?

You do not have to hand in proof of vaccinations to become an au pair. Nevertheless, it is important to check if all your vaccinations are up to date and worth asking your doctor for recommendations. It is best to wait until you have been placed in a specific region.