What to Expect as an Au Pair in the United States

There are many reasons to consider becoming an au pair in the United States. It is a great way to gain cultural experience while you live in a new country. Besides, if you become an au pair in the U.S. you will be paid a good wage and can enjoy a variety of other benefits. However, before you go ahead and apply for an au pair position, you should make sure that you understand what you can expect.

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House Rules

When choosing an au pair, discuss house rules before the big day arrives. This can be an exciting experience for both the host family and the au pair. But if the rule needs to be clarified, it could lead to a misunderstanding that results in more headaches than happiness.

The most important thing to remember is that you are responsible for your actions, including how you manage the house and its guests. To do this, set out rules for the house that are as specific as possible. For example, limit the number of people coming to the house, particularly if you have kids.

A few other house rules to consider include:

  • Keeping track of the time.
  • Using the washing machine.
  • Following the rules of etiquette.

You should also know how to lock your door.

The best way to make your new house a home is to set out rules. These rules can be as simple as allowing the au pair to make small talk or as complex as establishing a schedule for cleaning and cooking.

One of the most important house rules is to get the au pair to sign a contract that outlines their responsibilities as cultural care workers. In addition, you’ll need to establish ground rules, such as the type of house appliances the au pair should use.

If you are lucky enough to receive a car, discussing its use is a good idea. This will give the au pair more freedom and let her feel like a real adult.

One of the best ways to demonstrate to your children that you value their safety is to set comprehensive house rules. From using the washer and dryer to determining the correct house temperature, you must show your new guest the perks of being a resident.


Au Pairs are young adults who live in the United States and care for children in host families. They are given a stipend that includes the usual suspects – meals, lodging, and medical insurance. However, the stipend may not match the minimum wage in their home state or locality.

An au pair is permitted to stay in the United States for a year. Their jobs may be limited to about 45 hours a week, but they are eligible for paid vacation, two weeks off every month, and health insurance.

Although the au pair program is federally mandated, some states have policies that apply to it. One such rule requires that host families pay at least 40 percent of an au pair’s room and board costs.

Cultural Exchange Program

The au pair program is a cultural exchange program that allows foreign nationals aged 18 to 26 to live in the United States for one year with a host family. Au pairs provide childcare in exchange for time to study, participate in milestones, and learn about the United States.

The Department of State maintains a list of approved Au Pair sponsors. Sponsor agencies arrange the program. They charge a fee of $3,000 to facilitate the cultural exchange component. During this period, au pairs receive meals, a room, and remuneration tied to the minimum wage.

In exchange, participants work at least 10 hours a day and 45 hours a week. Some au pairs have reported working more than 30 hours weekly, claiming that the program denies them worker protections.

A host family is typically a middle-class American family. The au pair must genuinely desire to care for children and possess childcare experience.

In addition to providing childcare, au pairs teach children about their home culture and help children learn vocabulary. These activities are incorporated into the family’s daily routine.

While this is a great way to bring an international student into the community, it has also been abused. Many au pairs report being mistreated in substandard living conditions. Other au pairs are forced to work long hours for low pay.

Getting a Visa

To be eligible for the Au Pair Program, you must have a valid J-1 visa. This non-immigrant visa allows participants to spend up to 12 months in the United States.

To apply, you must complete a short application. The process should take only ten minutes to complete. Once the application is complete, you will receive a confirmation page with an application ID number.

If you have been selected to be an Au Pair, you will be sent to a five-day orientation program. You will meet your host family and participate in the orientation. After the program, you can start preparing for your arrival.

When you arrive in the United States, you will begin your au pair experience by enrolling in an au pair training school. 

During your first year, you will be required to meet all of the program requirements. Some of these requirements include completing a medical report, providing work experience, and submitting evidence of “binding ties” to your home country.