When is the best time for me to submit my application?
Long-Term (8-12 months)
Apply at least four months before you’d like to start, since the visa process can take awhile. Lots of host families seek au pairs who can start at the beginning of their school year in late August or September and stay through the end of June, but we’re happy to work on getting you matched at any time.
Short-Term (2-3 months)
Apply at least 3 months in advance. A visa is not required for short-term placements.
What kind of child care-related experience is needed to apply?
Your child care experience can include any kind of work where you’ve been responsible for children. This can include:
- Working as a camp counselor
You must show you have at least 200 hours of childcare experience with non-relatives. You’ll provide two childcare references. If you have additional child care related certificates or educational degrees, please be sure to highlight this in your application.
Do my references need to be sent directly to InterExchange?
Most applicants collect their own references and upload them directly to their online InterExchange account. However, if your referrer would prefer to email them directly to us, please have them scan and send the form to our email.
Do I need to submit my translations of documents with my application?
No. After you are placed with a host family we may ask for translations of a few things if needed for the visa process (long-term au pairs only).
If I’m not matched with a family will I receive a refund?
In the unlikely event that we’re unable to place you, we’ll refund your deposit. We’ll keep you posted throughout the placement process.
Can I make a location request?
Yes. Please write in your location preferences anywhere on your Program Specific Application. We’ll do our best, but location requests cannot be guaranteed. Actual placement location will depend on the families looking for au pairs at the time. Most of our families are in the suburbs of Paris.
Do I need to be a driver?
Many host families seek an au pair who can drive. If you can’t drive, it may take a few weeks longer to find you a family match.
What are host families like?
Our French partner screens all of our host families for safety very similarly to how we screen our au pairs. Just as our applicants here in the U.S. must, all families submit applications and references, have an interview and pay a program fee.
We have many warm and caring French families looking for au pairs. Many have two or three children who are excited to meet you!
How many hours of childcare will I provide each week?
You’ll provide up to 25 hours of childcare per week. When you connect with a potential host family, you’ll have a chance to talk about the weekly schedule and expectations upfront.
Can I be placed with or close to a friend?
Families can only host one participant at a time, but we might be able to place you and a friend near each other. We can’t guarantee it, but we’ll do our best!
How does the host family matching process work?
We’ll look for a family that’s open to your desired duration and start date. Once we have a potential match, we’ll email you their profile and encourage you to set-up a video call so you can get to know each other better.
We’ll provide an interview guide so you can make the most of your call and ensure it’s a good fit. We usually present one family at a time, and most participants match with the first family presented.
The host family matching process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks (sometimes longer if you applied more than three months in advance).
What if issues arise with my host family after I’m abroad?
Being an au pair involves a unique working and living relationship with a host family, over an extended length of time. It’s possible that at some point you may experience some form of miscommunication, or even a disagreement. Typically, with proactive communication and sensitivity, it’s not difficult to resolve these things together with your hosts.
However, don’t hesitate to contact our French partner for help - they’re professionals and love hearing from au pairs, no matter the reason! If things really are not working out, they’ll work with you regarding the possibility of a rematch with a new family, subject to availability.
Do I need a visa?
Short-term placements: Nope! U.S. citizens can enter the Schengen area (which includes France) and stay for up to 90 days within a 180-day period without a visa. You’ll simply enter France with your valid U.S. passport. For programs starting in 2021 or later you will likely need to obtain an ETIAS authorization online before traveling.
Long-term placements: Yes, we’ll provide visa application instructions once your placement with a family is confirmed. You can’t apply for the visa before you’re matched with a family.
What does the visa process entail?
Once your placement with a family is confirmed, we’ll provide instructions on how to obtain the Jeune Au Pair Visa before entering France. This entails an online application and an in-person visit to a French Consulate. We’ll provide information on when to schedule your visa appointment and what to bring after you have been placed with a host family.
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the end of your stay.
Visa fee: currently €99
Am I required to take French language classes?
No, but we recommend that you do. It’s a great way to learn about French culture and it will be helpful in your day-to-day life. Classes are also an opportunity to meet other people!
Are there resources to help start my program?
You’ll receive InterExchange’s Child Care Guide, Activities Guide, and Home Orientation Guide before departing the U.S. Upon arrival in France, our French partner will provide a Welcome Pack with France-specific resources on how to approach au pairing and how to adjust to your new environment.
Will I have vacation time?
Because of the short nature of the program, you won’t have a set period of vacation. You will, however, always have at least one day (if not the whole weekend) off for free time.
You’ll always have at least one day (if not the whole weekend) off for free time. For au pairs who will be in the country for longer than 6 months, you’ll be entitled to one week of paid vacation, and au pairs who will be in the country longer than 10 months are entitled to 2 weeks.
Before you schedule your vacations, make sure to discuss directly with your host family if it’s okay for you to take that time off. You technically can take your vacation all at once, but most au pairs space their vacation time out to accommodate the schedule their host family requires. If your host family is okay with you taking the full 1 or 2 weeks at once, then by all means, go for it! The most important thing is to discuss your plans with them directly.
Do I need an international driver’s permit?
If your host family needs you to drive, you will need to obtain an International Driver’s Permit. You should apply for this at the time of host family placement as it can take a few days/weeks to process.
There are two State Department-designated international driver’s license distributors: the AAA and the AATA. You may use either of these organizations to obtain your International Driving Permit. The cost is about $20.
Do all families pay in cash?
Many families pay cash, although if there is another way you’d prefer to receive your stipend, let your host family know. If you open a bank account (which is usually free, you just need to provide some proof of identity, such as your passport), your host family may be able to deposit your stipend directly into your account. If you’d like to change your money into U.S. dollars, you should be able to do so at any large bank.
Will I have a contract listing my hours and pay?
You’ll receive a host family invitation listing their contact information, your stipend, your program duration, and the program stipulations.
Should I bring my U.S. phone with me?
You could simply use your existing phone with an local SIM card purchased in France (check with your U.S. carrier to make sure your phone allows this), or purchase a relatively inexpensive phone just for your time in France. In either case, you’ll probably want to set up a local phone plan. If you’re planning to contact people back home, you could also use your existing device with wifi for free apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Check-out these tips on staying in touch while traveling.
Do I need to buy a roundtrip flight?
Although it’s not legally necessary, it’s generally more cost efficient to book a roundtrip rather than two, one-way tickets. However, if you’d simply like to purchase a one-way ticket going into France and then purchase your return ticket at a later date, this is totally acceptable as well. Please confirm with the airline that they’ll allow you to board with a one-way ticket before purchasing this option.
Will I be able to connect with other au pairs in France?
Absolutely! We’ll connect you with other au pairs and invite you to a Facebook group specifically for participants in France. Our in-country partner will also help you connect.
Why do I have to pay a program fee?
Program fees make it possible for us to promote our programs and pay staff to review applications and provide support, including placing you in a vetted host family and providing in-country support.
InterExchange is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, so we aim to keep program costs as low as possible for participants. If you have any questions about the fee for your program please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.