For 32 years, the American au pair program has provided a unique opportunity for participants to care for children in exchange for immersive and life changing experiences in the United States. This cultural exchange program was created to build strong ties between U.S. citizens and people around the world.
However, in April 2020, the program was paused by a Presidential Executive Order (P.P. 10052) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the Executive Order is expected to expire on March 31, 2021. We here at APW are counting down the days! While we (and the rest of the world) wait in anticipation of a positive outcome, it's important to know that au pairs can still apply for the J-1 visa under a few special circumstances.
In October 2020, a California court issued an injunction to the P.P. 10052. This has allowed regular visa appointments in countries where there are no pending travel restrictions in place. There were several au pair agencies associated with the court order, and they are still permitted to resume the program. We encourage you to check with your au pair agency directly to see if they are one of them!
The U.S. Department of State also continues to allow National Interest Exceptions (NIE) for qualified applicants interested in entering the country. In order to apply for the NIE waiver, host families and au pairs must meet any one of the categories listed below:
CATEGORY 1: Travel to provide care for a minor U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or nonimmigrant in lawful status by an au pair possessing special skills required for a child with particular needs (e.g., medical, special education, or sign language) or childcare services provided for a child with medical issues diagnosed by a qualified medical professional by an individual who possesses skills to care for such child will be considered to be in the national interest.
CATEGORY 2: Travel by an au pair that prevents a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or other nonimmigrant in lawful status from becoming a public health charge or ward of the state of a medical or other public funded institution.
CATEGORY 3: Childcare services provided for a child whose parents are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 or medical research at United States facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19.
As of February 16th 2021, countries eligible for the NIE Visa Appointment are: U.K., Brazil, China, Argentina, and Colombia, as well as the 26 Nation Schengen Area of Europe (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden & Switzerland)
We hope you’re able to join us soon! Learn more about Au Pair Weekend’s online and virtual course offerings for au pairs here.