The program lasts 12 months. If both you and your host family want to continue your placement, an extension option is available. Under this option, you may stay with you host family an additional six, nine or 12 months. Extensions must also be approved by the U.S. Department of State.
Once you successfully complete your time with your host family, you may stay in the United States for a Grace Period of an additional 30 days. You can use this time to travel around the U.S.; however, you are not permitted to work.
You're required to provide up to 45 hours per week of child care. Part of your duties might include getting the children ready for school, preparing meals and packing lunches, bathing the children, cleaning play areas, doing the children's laundry and making their beds. Because you'll be living as an extended member of the host family, you should also be sure to clean up after yourself and care for your living space. Learn more about host family responsibilities.
Currently au pairs must receive a weekly stipend of at least $195.75. This amount is set by the Department of State. This amount is based on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour times 45 hours, but also reflects a credit of 40 percent for the room and board provided by the host family. Au pairs will also receive an annual educational stipend of up to $500 to pay for six credit hours of classes at an accredited, post-secondary educational institution.
No. Au pairs are treated as an extended member of the host family. Your duties as an au pair will all relate to taking care of the children. These responsibilities may include picking up after the children, preparing some meals, doing the children's laundry and performing certain regular chores. However, you will not be expected to clean the entire house, do the family laundry or to regularly prepare meals for the entire family.
Yes. All au pairs on J-1 Exchange Visitor visas must complete six credit hours at an accredited educational institution. You will not be able to extend your stay without first completing the educational requirement.
While it is not a program requirement, almost all host families require someone who can drive and has at least one year of driving experience. If you are a safe, experienced driver, then it will be easier for you to match with a host family. In most American cities, driving is the primary method of transportation.
In general, the United States is a very safe place. You should feel comfortable in your host community. However, it is always a good idea to keep security and safety in mind, especially when traveling after your program has ended. Overall, you will find this country full of warm, friendly people who will enjoy meeting you, sharing their culture with you and learning about your culture. If you use common sense, you will be able to avoid most difficulties and have a wonderful, safe time in the United States.
Yes. Your bedroom will be a private space with a window.
No. This would be a violation of the terms of the J-1 Visa.
Yes. Au pairs may travel freely within the United States. Under your J-1 Visa, you're also able to travel for 30 days inside the U.S. after you complete your time with your host family. If you plan to travel outside of the United States during your program, your J-1 visa must still be valid, and you must follow the specific visa rules and regulations of your destination country. Be sure to research those regulations prior to departure. Also, you must carry your DS-2019 form at all times when you travel internationally.
To participate in the program, you will need to pay a Program Share Fee. The amount of the fee differs from country to country. The representative in your area will be able to provide you with specific details.
InterExchange Au Pair USA will provide you with accident and sickness insurance for the duration of your au pair program dates at no additional cost to you. Shortly before your arrival, you'll have the opportunity to purchase an insurance upgrade for a small one-time fee.
Our host families come in all shapes and sizes and live across the U.S. — from big cities like Boston and San Francisco to smaller, more suburban towns. No matter where your new host family lives, you can be sure it's a comfortable home where you will have your own room. Living with a host family — from New York to California and everywhere in between — will give you an up-close experience of everyday life within an exceptional American family, while creating opportunities for you to teach people about your country and culture as well.
InterExchange Au Pair USA au pairs consistently tell us that they loved their time on the program and would recommend it to their friends. Au pairs improve their English, make new friends, and learn to live in a different country and culture. But they also tell us that their time on the program has made them stronger and more confident people.
Being an au pair for an American host family is a serious job. You'll need to be patient, kind, loving, and extremely responsible as you care for your host children. You'll also need to communicate well with your host parents and make sure that they trust your child care abilities. You will be welcomed as a new international member of the family and your relationship with your host family will develop over the program year. Many au pairs build great relationships that last beyond their program years.
As an InterExchange Au Pair USA au pair, room and board is provided, as well as an educational stipend. You'll earn paid vacation and be able to travel for up to 30 days after your program year is over. Plus, you'll earn almost $10,000 or more during your program year, and continue your education by taking college-level classes.
InterExchange Au Pair USA will support you every step of the way during your au pair program: setting up your online profile, matching with a host family, assisting with visa materials, connecting you to your Local Coordinator, and giving you tax information. The InterExchange Au Pair USA program offers ongoing support throughout your time in the USA.
Our trusted in-country cooperators will be your first point of contact and support. They will meet and interview you first to answer specific questions about the program. They will also help you with your embassy or consulate interview and in-country visa processing.
The New York Team
From your visa application and processing to the Au Pair USA Orientation & Training in New York to answering questions throughout your au pair year, the InterExchange Au Pair USA program staff will be there for you. While you are living in the USA, we can always be reached by phone or email. We will reach out to you throughout your year with helpful emails and blog posts providing guidance, activities to do with your host children, and program updates. Our four-day Orientation & Training in New York City will introduce you to some of our staff and give you an in-depth look at our program and preparation for U.S. culture.
Your Local Coordinator
Your Local Coordinator will be your main point of contact throughout your au pair program year. Our Local Coordinators interview host families and visit their homes before accepting them into our program. Local Coordinators contact both you and your host family several times at the beginning of your au pair year. During the program year, your Local Coordinator will plan fun and informative monthly cluster meetings for you and other InterExchange Au Pair USA au pairs.
One of the great things about being an au pair is the variety it offers. Each of our host families is unique — with different schedules, hobbies and interests — and no au pair experience is exactly the same. Through our matching process, InterExchange Au Pair USA helps ensure that you fit in with your host family and that you understand its particular needs before you arrive at the home.
Although schedules and certain responsibilities will vary depending on your host family, you can expect to spend much of your on-duty days caring for the family’s children. When you arrive, your host family will provide you with a schedule outlining the specific hours you’ll be working.
InterExchange Au Pair USA host families are committed to being more than just an employer to their au pairs. Host families become their au pair’s extended family and are their au pair's most important connection here in the U.S. Many host families form a strong bond with their au pair and establish relationships that often last longer than their time in the program.
Our host families:
- Welcome their au pair as an extended member of the family
- Include their au pair in most family meals, outings, and celebrations
- Provide a private room and meals for their au pair
- Assist with transportation to classes and cluster meetings with their InterExchange Au Pair USA Local Coordinator
- Participate in an annual Host Family Day with other host families and all other required orientation meetings
- Are citizens or legal residents of the U.S. and speak English fluently
- Pay their au pair a weekly stipend of at least $195.75 and a $500 educational stipend as required by the U.S. Department of State
- Guarantee that their au pair will work no more than 45 hours per week and no more than 10 hours a day
- Are required to give their au pair 1.5 days off per week, one full weekend per month and two weeks of paid vacation
- Guarantee their au pair will not do heavy housework or tasks unrelated to the host family's children
Our families go through a multi-step application and interview process. First, families apply to the program and their application is reviewed by our staff. Our Local Coordinators visit potential host family homes after their applications and references have been accepted. Local Coordinators are experienced professionals who have been trained to interview host families and verify that they meet all requirements of the Au Pair USA program. The Local Coordinator meets the entire family and discusses their background, interest in hosting an international au pair, commitment to cultural exchange and commitment to supporting their future au pair. You will also interview with your host family, and this is the perfect opportunity for you to ensure that the family is a good match for you.
As an au pair, you have the opportunity to attend an American college or university during your program year. While this is a great opportunity and will add to your experience, it is also a requirement of your J-1 au pair visa. The program requirements state that you must complete at least six credits (usually two classes) during your program year at an accredited post-secondary institute of higher learning. You can take academic classes that interest you and add to your program experience.
Your host family will provide $500 to help pay for the classes but you should expect to contribute to the cost as well. If you decide to extend your au pair program year for another six, nine, or 12 months, you will have the chance to take more classes! This is an important part of the cultural exchange aspect of the InterExchange Au Pair USA program and an au pair's schedule is organized to allow time for classes and study. Local Coordinators will guide au pairs about the best classes and colleges to attend in the area.
Being an au pair is an incredibly rewarding experience. During your time in the USA, you’ll have the opportunity to earn money, travel, further your education, make friends, and live as part of an American family. Here are just a few of the benefits of being an au pair:
- As an au pair, you’ll receive a weekly stipend of at least $195.75 during your stay with your host family. That's almost $10,000 a year! Your host family provides room and board, so you don’t need to worry about paying for housing or meals during your time in the U.S.
- During your au pair program, you are required by the U.S. Department of State to take six credit hours at an American college or university in any subject that interests you. Your host family will provide you with up to $500 per year for these classes. Not only will this help further your education, it will also give you the opportunity to make friends with other students in the area.
- Each week, you’ll have at least one and a half days off (1.5), and at least one full weekend off a month. You’ll also be able to take two weeks of paid vacation. Au pairs often use this time to travel with their friends and learn about other areas in the U.S.
- After you complete your time as an au pair, you’re able to travel throughout the USA for up to 30 days. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take an extended trip through America.
- Each month, your Local Coordinator will organize a meeting for all of the InterExchange Au Pair USA au pairs in your area. It’s a great opportunity to make friends and share your experiences. Often, monthly meetings include fun events like holiday parties, museum trips, concerts, sporting events, volunteer projects, and travel opportunities.
- Living as an au pair, you’ll likely form a special bond with your host family. Many InterExchange Au Pair USA host families and au pairs stay in contact for many years, and even visit each other after their time together in the U.S. ends.
The InterExchange Au Pair USA Orientation & Training Program is a four-day session in New York City that will help you adjust to American life and prepare you for your child care responsibilities as an au pair. The Orientation & Training Program is an important series of classes and workshops about topics that will be important to you throughout your time in the U.S. Since it is held in New York City, we will also schedule time for fun in the Big Apple!
- First Aid, Basic Health, and Safety
- CPR Certification course by the American Heart Association
- Childhood development
- Cultural differences and adjusting to the USA and life with an American family
- J-1 Visa rules
- Au Pair USA program information and policies
- Insurance information
- Detailed instructions for traveling to your host family
- Driving in the United States
- Communication in the United States
- Culture Shock
- New York City Tour (optional)
For the first three days after you arrive at your host family’s home, one or both of the host parents will stay with you to help familiarize you with the family’s routines, schedules, and habits. Your Local Coordinator will also check in with you during this time to make sure you are settling in well.
During these first few days, you’ll get a lot of information. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s important that you understand everything your host parents are communicating to you.
Of course, the most important - and fun - responsibility you’ll have during this time is getting to know the children. Your arrival is an adjustment for them too, and you can help make them comfortable by spending plenty of time with them.
InterExchange Au Pair USA has a long record of success in matching au pairs with host families, and the vast majority of our placements lead to an amazing cultural exchange experience.
In certain rare circumstances, au pairs and host families run into challenges. In these cases, your Local Coordinator will provide the guidance and support to resolve the situation. First, he or she will arrange a three-point meeting with you and your host parents. In many cases, this meeting resolves the issues at hand. Open communication and dialogue are very important in the au pair/host family relationship. Simply sitting down together can often clear up miscommunications.
If the three-point meeting does not solve the problems, the host family and the au pair may decide to end the placement early. If that’s the case, your Local Coordinator will work to reassign you to a different host family in a new area. He or she will also match your host family with a new au pair.
Your Local Coordinator is your first point of contact if you encounter any problems during your stay. Notify her or him if you encounter a medical problem, an emergency with your family in your home country, or any other issues that require attention.
The InterExchange Au Pair USA staff is also available throughout your program to make sure you have a safe, happy, and memorable experience in the U.S.