Hello again and welcome to the second installment of How to Become an Au Pair! In case you missed it, make sure to check out Part 1 to get started.
In Part 2 we will cover the visa application process.
PLEASE NOTE: You must have a valid passport in order to apply for a visa. If you don’t already have one you should do this immediately as it can take several weeks to arrive and will delay the au pair process indefinitely.
Before we get started, the biggest piece of advice I can give you is to create a bookmark folder on Google Chrome called “Au Pair” and get in the habit of bookmarking everything. This is especially important for the pages within AuPairWorld. That site is a goldmine but they do a poor job of linking pages back to themselves.
Okay, now on to step 5!
Step 5: The Contract
Once you and a family have come to an agreement the next step is for the family to fill out the Au Pair Contract.
The contract will include your agreed upon duties, wages, schedules, and most importantly, your rights as an au pair. The family will complete the document (since it has to be filled out in the language of the host country) and will need to be signed by both you and the family.
From here the steps will vary based on what is required by your host country. I will discuss the steps required for obtaining a visa in France since that is what I have experience with, but the specific requirements could vary by host country. To learn what is required to apply for your visa, see country specific guides here.
Step 6: Make Your Visa Appointment
Do it immediately! Appointments with foreign consulates can take up to three months and depending on when you intend on departing, time is of the essence.
I made mine in the middle of June but the earliest appointment I could schedule was August 10th, and I planned on leaving for France on August 30th! Lucky for me I live in Boston and the closest French Consulate was in my city, but I’ve heard stories from other au pairs who had to travel several hours to make their appointment, so definitely take this into account!
Google “<country> Consulate near me” for your host country and then follow the steps to make a visa appointment.
Step 7: See Your Doctor
Your visa application will require a note from your doctor stating you have a clean bill of health, dated within 3 months of your departure, and translated into the country’s national language by an official translator.
Make the appointment with your physician as soon as you find your family!
Here is the link to the Certificat Médical I used for France, but you can find whichever form your country requires on AuPairWorld.com. Print this off and bring it with you to your Doctor’s appointment for her to fill out.
*Bookmark this page under your Au Pair tab!
Step 8: Get Your School Transcripts
This step will vary by university/ school but in my case I called the Bursar’s office where they explained how to request a copy of my transcripts online. I went to the website they sent me to and paid a small fee (I think it was like $8) and within 24 hours I received an email with my official transcripts attached.
These will also have to be translated by an official translator which leads us to the next step…
Step 8: Find a Translator
If the language of your host country happens to be the same as yours, then Congratulations! You can skip this step and save yourself a few hundred dollars! 🙂
But if not, you will need to find an official translator for your doctors note and your school transcripts so it’s best so start looking for an affordable one now.
Ps. I didn’t realize I had to translate my college transcripts and I sent them to the family in English. It wasn’t until they went to the DIRECTE to have my documents validated that we learned they were supposed to be translated into french by a certified translator. This was very bad.
My visa appointment was scheduled for 3 weeks later and in order to apply for a visa I needed all my documents validated by the DIRECTE. This meant if we couldn’t get my transcripts translated and mailed back to France in time for the family to go back to the DIRECTE, have them stamped, and then mailed back to me by the time of my appointment then I wasn’t going to get my visa.
Because of this mistake I had to find a translator who would do a rush order, which meant I paid $180 for something that should have cost $100. Yikes.
Step 9: Send All Documents to Host Family
- a document confirming your education level in your country (translated into country’s national language by a certified translator)
- a health certificate issued less than 3 months prior to your departure (translated into country’s national language by a certified translator)
- a photocopy of your passport
Step 10: Enroll in Language Course
An Au Pair visa is technically a student visa, which means that all Au Pairs are required to take language courses.
Your family should help you decide on a school (based on price, location, class schedules) and then once you decide, they will register you in classes.
You will need a proof of enrollment in language courses in order to apply for your visa.
Step 11: Take Visa Pictures
Just like a passport photo, you will need a photo for your visa. The same requirements apply: White background, up-close and from the shoulders up, no smiling, high-resolution, no glasses or hats. You can have these taken at most pharmacies.
No one looks cute in these by the way, proof below:
Step 12: Apply for your visa
In addition to the validated documents your host family will send back to you, there are a few forms you will need to fill out and bring to your appointment. You can find these on the visa application of your country. For an example, here is the visa application page for France.
Visa Application Requirements:
- Passport valid for at least three months after your return to the US + 1 photocopy of the identity pages. Your passport must have been issued less than 10 years ago, be valid for at least three months after your return to the US and have at least 2 blank visas pages left.
- Processing fee ($110)
- One application form filled out completely and signed by the applicant.
- Two ID pictures (white background, full face, no glasses nor hat, closed mouth)
- “Au Pair” Contract approved by the French Ministry of Labour. This contract is obtained by the host family in France at the “Direction Départementale du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Formation Professionnelle -D.D.T.E.F.P.”
- Proof of your previous studies (your most recent diplomas).
- Proof of registration or letter of enrollment in a language school specifying exact dates of attendance.
- If you are not a U.S. citizen: a valid U.S. permanent residence card (“green card”) or a valid U.S. visa with valid I-94 or valid I-20, or an Advance Parole document. (+ ONE COPY)
- One residence form duly filled out (upper part only).
On the day of your appointment I would make sure to bring 3 copies of each of the above documents just to be safe. The appointment itself is a breeze and shouldn’t take too long – I was done in 20 minutes! I was actually shocked at the lack of questions they asked me… I handed him my documents, he asked me why I wanted to go to France, and then he told me I was approved and I could pick up my visa in one week!
I left my passport with them (scariest feeling in the world for a traveler but I promise you get it back) and then 7 days later I returned for my passport which was now stamped with my fancy new visa.
Happiest feeling in the world seeing the words VISA: FRANCE inside my passport!
And that is how you apply for an Au Pair visa!
Stay tuned for Part 3 where I will cover packing, selling everything you own, tying up loose ends, and everything else you need to do before you go!