Application

When is the best time for me to submit my application?

We can place short-term au pairs throughout the year! Aim to submit your application at least 10 weeks prior to your desired start date. You’re welcome to apply in advance.

Your child care experience can include any kind of work where you have been responsible for children. This can include babysitting, tutoring, coaching, student/assistant teaching, classroom teaching, being a camp counselor or volunteering with kids, etc. and must add up to at least 200 hours in total. 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 your organization?

Most applicants collect their own references and upload them directly to their online InterExchange accounts. However, if your referrer would prefer to email them directly to us, please have them scan and send the form to our general email at workabroad@interexchange.org.

If I am not accepted into the program will I receive a refund?

In the unlikely event that we are unable to place you, you’ll receive a refund of your program fee.

Can I make a location request?

Yes. We can usually accommodate preferences if you want to be placed near an urban/suburban area. We generally have fewer host family options outside of Madrid. 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.

Do I need to be a driver?

Most families in the Madrid area do not need an au pair who can drive. Public transportation in Spain is very accessible and often the preferred mode of transportation.

Placement

What are host families like?

Our international cooperator screens all of our host families for safety 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.

The make-up of our Spanish host families varies, but they’re well known for being super welcoming and friendly, and often love to make big dinners and go sightseeing! Most of our families are middle class and have children in either elementary or middle school.

How many hours of childcare will I provide each week?

You can expect to provide between 20 and 30 hours of childcare per week. When you connect with a potential host family, you’ll have a chance to discuss the schedule.

Can I be placed with or close to a friend?

If you’ve made any special requests to be placed close to a friend, would like to be in a particular region, or have any host family/children preferences, we’ll take them into consideration but can’t guarantee we’ll be able to honor all requests. We don’t allow multiple placements in one host family home.

Will I have options to choose from during the matching process?

You’ll definitely have the option to ask for other families if you feel the one(s) we’ve presented to you are not a good fit. Let us know and we’ll be happy to continue looking for another family until you feel like we’ve found the right one! It’s important to us that you feel comfortable with your host family match, and we’ll do all we can to make sure that happens.

If I decide not to work with a presented family, am I eligible for a refund?

The stipulations of our refund policy can be found here.

Is there Internet access at every household?

The majority of our families, even those in rural areas have access to the Internet in their homes. The basics like electricity, water, and heat go without saying. In a rural area, it may be more difficult to access public transportation to get into town, but you’ll always have the option to discuss with your host family how they get around and stay social in a non-urban environment.

What if issues arise with my host family after I am abroad?

Being an au pair invovles 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 pro-active communication and sensitivity, it’s not difficult to resolve these things together with your hosts. However, it’s never a bad idea to contact our partner agency in Spain for extra help - they are professionals and love hearing from au pairs, no matter the reason! If things really are not working out, they will work with you regarding the possibility of a rematch with a new family, subject to availability.

Logistics

Do I need a visa?

You don’t need to apply for a visa for a program under 90 days. As a U.S. citizen, you’ll simply enter into one of the 26 Schengen countries (which includes Spain) with your valid U.S. passport as a tourist and will be allowed to stay in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

For more information on the Schengen area, please visit the U.S. Department of State’s website.

Are there resources to help start my program?

You’ll receive an InterExchange Child Care Guide, Activities Guide, and Home Orientation Guide before departing the U.S. Upon arrival into Spain, our international cooperator will provide a ‘Welcome Pack’ with Spain-specific resources on how to approach au pairing and how to adjust to your new environment.

Will I have vacation time?

You will always have at least one day (if not the whole weekend) off for free time.

Do I need an international drivers license?

Although it’s not absolutely required, we recommend you get an International Driver’s License/Permit (IDL/IDP) if you’re placed with a family who needs you to drive. You should apply for this at the time of host family placement as it can take a few days/weeks to have it ready.​

There are two State Department-designated international drivers license distributors: the AAA and AATA. You may use either of these organizations to obtain your International Driving Permit.

Do all families pay in cash?

Many families pay cash, although if there is another way you’d prefer to receive your pay, please simply let your host family know. If you open up a bank account (which is usually free, you just need to provide some proof of identity like your passport), your host family can deposit your stipend directly into your account. If you’d like to change your money into U.S. dollars, you should be able to change your money at any large bank. Please remember to take into account exchange rates and transaction fees.

Is there a contract listing my hours and pay?

You will receive an invitation that lists your your stipend, duration of program, and 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 Spain (check with your U.S. carrier to make sure your phone allows this), or purchase a relatively inexpensive phone just for your time in Spain. In either case, you’ll probably want to set up a local phone plan. If you’re planning to contact people back at home, you could also use your existing device with wifi for services like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, etc. You can find more information here.

Do I need to buy a roundtrip flight?

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 Spain and then purchase your return ticket at a later date, this is totally acceptable as well. Please check with the airline, though, before purchasing a one-way ticket to ensure they’ll let you board the plane at the airport. Some airlines require a round-trip ticket in order to board.

Will I be able to connect with other au pairs in Spain?

Absolutely! We’ll connect you with other au pairs in Spain at the time of your program and invite you to a Facebook group specifically for au pairs in Spain. Our in-country cooperator will also help you connect.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation