You may need to meet certain au pair requirements depending on your destination and program. This includes loving children, having completed (or close to completing) secondary school, being single/traveling solo, and having basic language skills.
Once you have found a family, ensuring the match feels right is important. This is best done via video chat before the final decision is made.
Decide on a destination.
Whether you’re aiming for castles or being swept away by the cadences of an Italian language, you’ll need to select the country where you’d like to live abroad as an au pair. This step is critical in ensuring you have a great experience, as some countries have specific au pair rules and regulations.
An au pair provides live-in childcare for a host family and receives a weekly stipend and full-board accommodation. The time you spend with the family varies from a few months to a year or more.
A fundamental question often arises for individuals aspiring to embark on the enriching cultural exchange and childcare journey: How to become an au pair? Navigating the application process, meeting visa requirements, and engaging with reputable agencies are essential to realizing the dream of becoming an au pair in a foreign country.
If you aim to become an au pair, you can either use an agency to find your host family or find one through online platforms. Most agencies charge a fee, but they can help you secure a placement quicker and simplify the process. It’s also worth considering how integrated you want to be with your host family. You’ll likely be expected to join the family at meals and on vacations, but more introverted au pairs may choose to travel alone or with friends during their free time.
Do your research
Becoming an au pair can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s also a big commitment. Make sure you’re ready for it by researching before you start talking with families. You’ll want to know what a typical au pair salary is in your destination country (if there is a legal minimum) if your host family offers extra benefits like healthcare or transportation, and if the job will work with your travel plans.
It’s also important to consider how much of a role you’ll play with your host family outside of working hours. Some au pairs enjoy group travel, while others prefer to spend their free time at home. Discussing expectations upfront will help prevent hurt feelings later on.
Also, be sure you’re registering with a top-notch au pair program. These programs can help you find a family, handle the necessary paperwork and visa, and provide support during your year abroad. They’re also more likely to connect you with a family that will treat you well, making your au pair experience even more rewarding.
Becoming an au pair abroad isn’t a walk in the park, but it can be a great way to gain international work experience and develop lifelong friendships. Most au pairs find their host family through an agency or organization specializing in au pairing. These agencies offer support throughout the process and can advise on things like legal matters and visas.
It’s important to be picky when finding a host family. Create a list of your most important wants and needs to help narrow your search. This could include location, number of children, age range, or if the family is happy to have you teach them English.
It’s also worth discussing with your host family the amount of pocket money (often called “porch money”), vacation time, and any other benefits you can expect. These vary greatly by country and family. Some families will even cover the cost of language school, flights and transport passes, or a car for your use in their time off.
Meet your host family.
Once an agency has approved you, it’s time to start looking for a host family. It’s important to take your time during this process and be picky! If you find a family that fits you well, have an au pair contract drawn up with them. This legal document usually needs to be signed for visa purposes, but it can also prevent any misunderstandings or problems during the year abroad.
Families will seek an au pair passionate about children and a good addition to their family. They should know what they want from the year and be willing to discuss these things with you. For example, some families may wish for their au pair to be bilingual, and some may have a specific schedule they would like you to follow.
Most host families will want to keep in touch with their au pairs beyond the end of their year and will often invite them to visit at home or overseas. This is a fantastic way to make new friends!
Get your visa
Depending on the program and country you choose, there are two main ways to become an au pair. One option is to work with an agency that will match you with families and help you apply for your visa. The other uses a platform that connects au pairs with host families. Both have pros and cons, but agency-based programs offer more support throughout the process.
Applying for your visa can take some time, and you may encounter unanticipated delays. Be sure to use it well in advance and have all required documents ready, including proof of identity, health certificate, and background checks. Also, ensure you have funds to cover your visa application fee, which can vary from country to country.
Once your visa is approved, you will receive a DS-2019 form and J-1 visa, allowing you to enter the United States. Remember that you will have a 30-day travel window, and if you leave the country during this period, your DS-2019 will expire, and you will not be able to reenter the US.