Application

When should I apply?

We can match you with families 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.


How is COVID-19 affecting the program?

Our number one priority is your health and safety. In light of the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, no deposit is required until you’re accepted. If you can’t travel due to restrictions or other concerns related to COVID-19, we’ll refund your program fee.


What kind of child care-related experience do I need?

Your child care experience can include any kind of work where you’ve been responsible for children. This can include:

  • Babysitting/nannying
  • Teaching/tutoring
  • Coaching
  • 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 general email: workabroad@interexchange.org.


Do I need to speak Spanish to be eligible?

No, you’re not required to know Spanish to participate. We encourage you to at least learn some basics, though, as it will help you learn more about the culture.


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?

The majority of our families reside in the suburbs of Madrid, but sometimes we have placements in other parts of the country. 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

How does the host family matching process work?

As soon as we have a potential family interested in speaking with you, we’ll send you their profile and contact details so you can arrange a video chat. We’ll provide an interview guide so you can make the most of your call.

If you feel the family we’ve presented to you is 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.

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 are host families like?

Our Spanish partner 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 have children in either elementary or middle school.


Will my host family speak English?

Usually, at least one of the parents is conversational in English. Sometimes, the children have started studying English in school and your host parents may ask you to informally help the children with their conversational skills.


How many hours of childcare will I provide each week?

You’ll provide between 20 and 30 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?

As most host families live in the Madrid suburbs, it’s not hard to place friends in the same area. Families can only host one participant at a time.


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 Spanish 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.


Can I take college classes while on the program?

You’re welcome to take a language class, but you won’t be able to take college classes for academic credit.


Logistics

Do I need a visa?

You don’t need to apply for a visa for a program under 90 days in the Schengen Area (which includes Spain). As a U.S. citizen, you’ll simply enter 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 programs starting in 2021 or later you will likely need to obtain an ETIAS authorization online before traveling.


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. We’ll also send you a Welcome Guide from our Spanish partner with tips about living and au pairing in Spain.


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.


Will I have vacation time?

Since it’s a short program, there is no vacation time built into it. You will have two full days off per week and depending on your program length, you might be able to travel a bit before or after your program.


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 drivers license distributors: the AAA and 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.


Should I bring my U.S. phone with me?

You could simply use your existing phone with a 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 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 Spain 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 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 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 workabroad@interexchange.org.

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