Should We Extend An Au Pair While She Plans To Wed Her American Husband?

by cv harquail on July 4, 2014

I need immediate advice from some of our host moms who have dealt with an aupair, wanting to extend, but also planning to get married, switch visas etc.

Our aupair whom we love is thinking of marriage! her boyfriend has proposed? we are happy and excited for her, but not sure how to advice her. We are with aupaircare, we think we can apply for extension for 6 months , she is planning a visit home in DECEMBER when her extension time would start, then come back to us start new contract and she get ” married here” in the US shortly after, she plans to complete the extension , but submit her paperwork to her home country and hopefully a change in visa status will be approved by the time her extension is complete. Then she will travel back to her country with her “American husband” and they will actually have a wedding there.

I need some help in this please….. Thanks JenNC

JenNC, I have never seen an AP finish a term once she got engaged, let alone an extension. (This doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened, I just haven’t seen.) {ed note: has anyone seen this work?}

Short timer’s syndrome, wedding planning excitement and desire to move on all accelerate an APs desire to finish and “start her real life” with hubs. Add in excited hubs and her wanting to get married during extension and then finish is recipe for disaster in my book but I’ve only been through this once and seen two others go through this (3 counting poor NJmama – did you read what happened with her beloved AP after she got engaged?)

Anyway, I want the best for you both, just wish someone had warned me when it happened to me I would have done things differently. Happy to fill you in on what I know on the topic via email to preserve this thread. Good luck! ~TexasHM

Texas, Thank you, yes I did read, and valid concerns, but I think my aupair will complete the extension, she had planned to extend anyway, and the ring popping was a surprise to her.

I think maybe a little fast , she feels they won’t be married until she does the wedding at home with her family, and doesn’t plan to tell her parents of “legal US marriage” so the plans to continue living with us until they return to her home country next summer. I hope :/ ~JenNC

So it’s an American boyfriend she met while being your AP? Which means it’s been 6 months that you’ve known her and she’s known him?

A lot can happen between now and December, between her and the fiancé, and between her and you. I would be cautious.

And recently when we talked about APs getting married the question came up, and I can’t remember the resolution: Does an AP who gets married to a US citizen while in the US have any “automatic” right to stay? Does her doing this actually make it trickier to handle her legal status in the US and possibly end up making her have to return to her country and apply for a legal visa from there?

If she’s married and an AP, I believe her visa is invalid.

I would be wary. Things that get complicated, only get more complicated. But I want to hear how it turns out, so please post the outcome in some months! ~ShouldBeWorking

I have to weigh in. :)
When my au pair started seeing her American boyfriend, she told me she was taking it slow. She had been engaged to a guy in Brazil for several years before she came to the U.S., and then broke it off last summer, shortly after she rematched with us. And then started seeing the guy she became engaged to.

Look, I am sure there are plenty of au pairs who get engaged and finish out their time with their host families. But let me just say this – we loved this au pair. She was a great au pair – I would have not asked her to extend if she wasn’t. We extended, and she got engaged a month later, and it was only after the wedding planning went into full swing that everything fell apart. I knew instinctively that part of the reason she extended was because of the boyfriend, but she was not engaged at the time and who could have imagined all that could have happened?

Would you be considering an extension if she wasn’t engaged? (It seems from your post that you are trying to help her out by extending, but I don’t know the full story). As wonderful as she is now, Should Be Working is absolutely right – this is hugely complicated. And when you add planning a wedding on top of something so complicated, the odds are not great.

TexasHM gave me great advice. I took a fraction of it. And of course I regret not taking all of it!!! Please think this through. I think as host moms the last thing we need are more complications in our lives. My advice is to start looking for a new au pair now, one that can come sooner rather than later. (This is the advice TexasHM gave me! But I felt I owed it to my au pair to commit to her full extension. It was only after I matched with a new au pair and agreed on a start date close to the end of her extension that my au pair morphed into Bridezilla. And then it was too late.) You need to make sure that you have childcare and your kids are happy. A lot can happen between now and December.

Good luck!!!  NJmama

She can’t “complete her extension” after the wedding. Once she is married, she can no longer be an AP and her visa will be invalid. Not only that, but good luck her even getting back into the country because her old visa will be nearly expired if not totally expired and when she goes to her consulate/embassy back home for a new one, if it comes out that she is planning to marry a US citzen or even in a relationship with one, they will deny her new visa.

This has recipe for disaster written all over it.  ~ HRHM

If she doesn’t plan to tell her parents that she is married, I’d be worried about what information she doesn’t feel you need to know.

You didn’t mention where she’s from, but I’d ask about what expectations her friends and family would have for a young woman who is engaged or married if she comes from somewhere pretty different from the US. She may feel pressure to conform to those expectations.  ~WarmStateMomma


Pennsylvania AP Mom July 4, 2014 at 11:07 am

Just to add to what HRHM said. Once she is married her AP visa becomes invalid. Although she would be able to stay in the country with her husband as they wait for her green card to come through, she is not able to work or go to school legally during this time. My AP last year got married in July during the travel month at the end of her time with us (and I’m happy to report I had no issues during the end of her year as she planned the wedding!). She applied for the green card immediately and finally received it at the end of April. It’s a long process and there are no guarantee’s.

TexasHM July 4, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Just to add to this – PA AP mom is dead on – AP visa is dead the minute she gets married and one more tidbit – getting married does not make her staying here legal. If there is any issue at all she could be deported because she is no longer an AP and she is not a US citizen or green card holder. APs that get married here without following the process – complete AP term, return to home country and come back on fiance visa – are basically asking the US govt for forgiveness vs asking for permission (fiance visa). The US govt would have the right to decline the APs application for a green card or as we have heard on this blog before – prevent family members from coming to the US in the future because AP violated her visa and did not return home. It also impacts future APs from that country because every AP that does not return home is tracked and can make it harder for future AP applicants from that same country to get a visa.
In this instance, I would have the AP finish her regular year and she and hubs can apply for a fiance visa for her. She goes home, when visa is approved he flies down, they have wedding then she returns with him, they finish paperwork and everything is above board and she is legally in the US while she waits for a green card and ideally her greencard will be easier to get and fast tracked because she completed her AP term properly and is here on a fiance visa. I’m not sure if she could work on a fiance visa but I am sure we can look it up if thats a concern to her.

Skny July 4, 2014 at 6:33 pm

Not true.
I got married on Student visa, but saw many Au pairs get married on regular Au pair visa. She has 30 from marriage to get her petition for green card started. Once it is started she is in a “limbo” where she can’t be deported nor procedures for deportation can get started, but she is not fully legal. Nowadays it is taking about 6mo for green card.
My Au pair who got married hired a lawyer. In her case I let her go early and she indeed stayed illegal for 45 days and still did not need to return home. About 6 mo later she had her green card

TexasHM July 5, 2014 at 1:22 am

Ok so I talked to one agency and looked up previous emails with my previous agency when we went through this and I am not sure what you are saying is not true but I was told this is correct.
In order to complete the AP program successfully the AP has to return to her home country. Period.
Do APs get married here? Yes. Does that harm the AP program? Yes it does. (Have all this in writing.) Can an application for a green card be declined? Absolutely. Are there repercussions in not finishing the AP program by returning home? Yes. Wide range of things but most common is the visa denial of friends/family since now you are on record as not having completed your visa terms with the AP program.
Will some APs do it an end up fine in the end? Sure. Mine did but she also almost went to Mexico for her honeymoon until she saw my face when she mentioned it! (no longer an AP, no green card paperwork signed, extension in the last month of her term and you are going to leave the country for your honeymoon?!?!)
HM was asking for advice on topic – my advice is tell AP the proper way this is handled on the up and up, finish at a year and have a backup plan starting now. Hopefully since AP wants to have her wedding in her home country anyway this can be easily managed. Go home, get a fiance visa, have hubs come down, get married and fly back with him and start their life!

Skny July 5, 2014 at 2:09 pm

You are right in that there ARE repercussions. In my Au pairs case her family members couldn’t come to her wedding. Visas denied. They may never come. The program does get hurt. However, as long as the Au pair has no criminal past, and the marriage is legitimate (no one paid anything), she will get her green card. Even if she spent years illegal in the country prior to marriage.
I actually know a case of a woman who was illegal for years, paid a man to marry her, got her citizenship and divorced. She is now married (real marriage) to someone who has been also illegal for 10+ years and expect his green card to come anytime

NBHostMom July 4, 2014 at 11:36 am

If I ignore the visa questions, personally, I would only entertain this idea for my family if I could answer ‘yes’ to ALL the following:

1) My gut instinct tells me: “yes, this will work”
2) I have an easy to implement plan B in place for childcare if things go wrong until next au pair can be found / arrive
3) I have had an open and honest conversation about all my concerns and the au pair provides thoughtful, practical answers that doesn’t require a change in her au pair duties (basically, tell me how you, the au pair, will ensure this situation will work)

ANY doubt on ANY of the above, the conversation would go… “I’m so grateful you’ve been our au pair and for the time you’ve spent with our family. I’m hope we can continue our relationship as you plan to stay in the USA. Now is the time for you to focus on planning your new life with your future husband, we only hope our next au pair can come close to how wonderful you’ve been.” … and select her end date.

NJ Mama July 4, 2014 at 1:05 pm

I second the questions NBHostMom wrote and wanted to add one more: How does your au pair envision her life when she gets married but is still working for you? For example, does she want to move in with him or stay with you? If she moves in with him, could she swing it on $195.75? If you give her car privileges how would that work? (i.e., if you have an au pair car, are you comfortable with her continuing to use it if she is no longer living in your house? Would your car rules change? If you don’t have an au pair car, how would she get to your house to work?) If she says she would still live with you, ask her more questions to see if she has really thought it through (Do you really think after the wedding you’re going to want to live with us and not him? How committed are you to our family?) Again, setting aside the fact that like getting married, moving in with him would probably put her in violation of the program — and it could make things hairy for you if your agency found out — you need to think about what your expectations would be and find out what her expectations are. They may be very different.

The other thing I wish I had done was involve my area director sooner. I respected my au pair’s wishes to keep her engagement secret from the agency and only involved the area director when it was clear she was going to end her time with us months earlier than she was supposed to (this was about 2-3 weeks before my au pair finally moved out). Perhaps you can have an off-the-record conversation with her? If she’s been around awhile I’m sure she’s seen it all :).

And finally, if you agree to the extension, don’t move forward without a backup plan.

exaupair July 4, 2014 at 4:07 pm

The thing is the OPs gut feeling tells her “no, it won’t work”. Otherwise she wouldn’t even post her question on this site. IMHO it’s a no-brainer, however good luck to both the HM and this au pair.

JenNC July 5, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Agreed, and yes exactly what we are doing and trying to do.

My aupair doesn’t seem quite ready to get married but she does want to marry this guy at some point. She and I have talked a lot since I posted my question, and with research and some answers here, we have determined it is probably not best course of action to get married here in the US. She doesn’t want to get married here, she wants to be married in her home country. I have talked to her about best plan of action, either completing her year flying home with fiancée and applying for fiancé visa, but that means she must marry here in the US. I told her I thought best plan is to plan to marry in her home country in the summer, they can then apply for the marriage-immigrant visa, it is best legal way to enter country, she enters as a clear resident of a spouse, and can complete the rest in the US.

I wanted her to extend with us prior to the boyfriend popping the question, and she was thinking about extending as well because she isn’t ready to leave the kids, she has cried a bit, because “this has all happened so fast” in relation to engagement. I think boyfriend wanted to solidify the relationship and try and guarantee she doesn’t leave, but it is a little soon and has complicated a lot.

I still have offered her extension, because we do luv her, my kids luv her, and it would be great for us to have her for another 6 months, I told her my concerns about being able to maintain and continue to be a great aupair. She is a very responsible young woman, and does seem to prioritize her contracts, responsibilities and family as she should.

She needs to go home at the end of the year no matter what, be cause she needs to see her family and discuss all of this, if she extends then she will still have to get her visa renewed in her country before returning.


Taking a Computer Lunch July 4, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Even if, as a HF, you permit the AP to continue working for you after marriage because it is convenient, she’s a good caregiver, and you want to support her, realistically how does she think she’s going to keep this from the agency? In the era of FB, twitter, and other social media, how many minutes does she think it’s going to take for her or one of her AP friends to convey something that reaches the LCC?

It would be interesting to hear from the LCCs – because I’m sure this has come up before. Have you ever had an AP get married and attempt to continue working as an AP? Are you legally required to report it to HQ? What were the consequences for the AP?

If you decide to extend with this AP – who might very well continue in good faith, then have a back-up plan.

Should be working July 4, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Here is another scenario to consider: AP gets very sick or injured after the wedding while she is in her extension. AP insurance refuses to pay because her visa is invalid. Her marital status would likely show up on all the hospital paperwork. Who pays those bills? Would HPs wish they weren’t part of AP getting into that situation?

NoVA Twin Mom July 4, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Or what if the aupair gets pregnant? All the same questions, except my understanding is that usually means a plane ticket home – so everything would come out, including your “complicity” (as some would call it) in helping the aupair hide what she was up to.

I wonder if that would get the host family kicked out by the agency?

Should be working July 5, 2014 at 1:42 am

I’ll bet if the agency finds out she is married, they will NOT pay the ticket home. I’m imagining it is against the rules of the program to get married. It is, I believe, against the rules to be pregnant too. And if APs are sent home for breaking rules, it’s hard to imagine the agency will cough up the flight cost.

TexasHM July 5, 2014 at 2:25 am

This is absolutely true (no plane ticket home) but they also report it immediately to the state dept (required by state dept) and cancel the APs visa sponsorship.

NoVA Twin Mom July 5, 2014 at 8:39 am

Yeah I meant a figurative plane ticket home, not one provided by the agency. I meant she’d be expected to leave the country. :)

TexasHM July 5, 2014 at 9:59 am

I was responding to should be working’s comments. :).

hOstCDmom July 4, 2014 at 5:21 pm

OR AP gets into a car accident with tragic result to 3rd party. HP may have her on their insurance, but who has the deep pocket when 3rd party sues? HP, likely, not AP + new APDH (I concede this might not be true, but odds are that HP in ~40’s are more likely to be target of lawsuit, or at least ALSO be target of lawsuit along with AP and APDH.) And will 3rd party use to their advantage that HP were knowingly employing an AP who did not have a valid visa? HP are required to complete and I-9 and keep on file each year re their AP. (I imagine many do not, but it is legally required for HP to verify AP immigration and visa status and sign I-9 form; agencies also tell HP this, give them an I-9 or link to I-9 download for this purpose.) Thus, HP would have fraudulently completed I-9…or not have completed I-9, neither of which is helpful if HP are target of lawsuit for catastrophic medical bills/lost wages/permanent disability as the result of their illegal AP’s car accident. Many people choose the AP program partly BECAUSE it is a way to legally employ a childcare provider without some of the payroll/tax/liability burdens of employing a nanny. Continuing to employ your AP when she is no longer here legally, or working legally, defeats that perq of the program…

Skny July 4, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Did not have a chance to read all answers but my advice is NO.
My awesome Au pair became neglectful and mediocre as soon as she started planning her wedding. TERRIBLE. She would make flower arrangements, print things, and browse internet to plan wedding during work hours. With kids at 2 and 6mo at time. Throw them in front of the tv.
She really didn’t work well. Her year with us was supposed to end in May, but boyfriend became too antsy and pressured her. She decreased to April, then March, and finally February (in January). Her work became so terrible on those last 3 weeks that I let her move in with him earlier….

German Au-Pair July 4, 2014 at 6:48 pm

I actually have an au pair friends who extended, got engaged during that time, finished her year successfully and continued working for the family as a nanny after she married. The kids were flower girls in her wedding and she still works for them. Sometimes her husband even helps with the kids. And I don’t mean, I’ve heard of this, she was in my cluster, in my group of friends.
I know there are a lot of horrible stories about this but if you really feel like you know this girl, it can absolutely work out.

HRHM July 4, 2014 at 10:11 pm

I know of one AP (friend of our last AP) who extended with a new family in the same area, already had a BF that she had been dating for about 6 mos at the time she moved to new family. Then, about 8 mos into her 2nd year, he proposed. She was doing great with the new family and continues to do so. HOWEVER, he is deployed overseas so she is certainly not distracted by him except via Skype when the chance arises. They are planning for her to go home at the end of her year (he won’t be back yet) and then get married after she is back home and come back through proper procedures.

Anonymous in CA July 4, 2014 at 10:28 pm

It seems like maybe you could break this down into parts and set some ‘ground rules’ or conditions.

1. AP Visa must remain valid.
The risk seems really big for everyone involved, not just the HF, but also AP and the fiancé if she does anything that invalidates her visa. I think it was you who tells AP no when she offers to babysit if that would make the hours exceed 10 in a day or 45 in a week (from the Extreme Scheduling post). So, you’re clearly someone who follows program rules to a T. This should be no different. You could encourage her to seek immigration counsel to explore her options in terms of timing of marriage, etc. From SKNY’s post, sounds like your AP doesn’t have all the correct information and there may be other options she hasn’t considered. Immigration issues are a big deal and getting it wrong can have serious consequences (i.e., deportation); she should not attempt to navigate this on her own. If legal counsel is too expensive, I have to think there are nonprofit organizations that provide immigration assistance or access to good information…she may wish to seek out those organizations so that she can be fully informed. Knowledge is power and she will be overall in a better position if she really understands the legal requirements.

2. Have a really direct conversation about work ethics and expectations while she’s still your AP.

Be as specific as possible. When working, focus must be on kids, not on wedding planning; no personal phone calls, texts, or web surfing during working hours. Same rules as any other time, but a really direct reminder to her.

3. Then put it on her.
Ask her to consider whether she is willing to abide by these conditions. And give her some time to consider, with a deadline. She may realize that a long engagement in this circumstance could be a good idea, given that she hasn’t known the fiancé for very long. Or she may really want to move on to the next phase of her life. Either way is fine. But whatever she does, I think you need to be clear that it cannot result in her being on an invalid visa and cannot result in a lack of focus at work. If she can manage both of those, then it could be a really lovely, exciting, endearing time for everyone as she prepares for marriage.

JenNC July 5, 2014 at 10:58 pm

Yes you are right, and now that I know the legalities no she cannot get married and be my aupair. I have given her her options, and she only has about 1 1/2 months to decide . Them I will start my process to find a new aupair when her year is up.

I think that she could extend with us if she has a clear plan to return home with fiancée and get married in the summer there, and follow legal proceedings to return as a spouse. She wants to get married in her country, and she isn’t ready to do that by December, so it makes since to continue to be engaged, working, getting to know him better, and our country before jumping into marriage , while being with a secure family who cares about her. She can return home and get married after extension, this is what I think is best , because she doesn’t want to get married in the US. And she doesn’t want to jeopardize her ability to be in the US. We will see, but I will not do anything illegal, I am a rule follower, worse case scenario girl and I warned her that things could work out badly if she doesn’t do things legally. Jen

WestMom July 4, 2014 at 11:14 pm

JenNC. My first thought is that it’s a looong time between now and December, and even longer until next July. A lot can happen between now and then.
Let me ask you- are you considering extending because it’s the right thing to do for your family? Or are you considering extending out of kindness to your AP? I am biased here, because we never extend, but if the former, I would set some clear expectations to make sure you have a successful 12m together. But I have to admit, I am doubtful it would be an even deal for both AP and family. Her head is likely to be elsewhere and I would be concerned that my family would take the backseat in this situation…

JenNC July 5, 2014 at 10:51 pm

I offered her extension long before the “popping of the question” she is awesome and like Family and kids love her. She is very responsible with a very “stressful” and professional career In her home country. I asked this question because I didn’t know anything about the marriage, aupairs and visas!!!! But I have learned a lot quickly.

I will not hide anything for her and I will not encourage her to do anything not legal , I will not keep or try to keep her as my aupair if she marries. I have instructed her to either complete the year and go home and apply for fiancée visa, or to extend and return home in summer and marry there And apply for marriage-immigrant visa as a legal spouse and return to the country legally.


CA-TXmom July 5, 2014 at 10:58 am

No, just no. This is way too complicated and ripe for frustration and possibly chaos. She might be great but too much of a liability. Clean break and stay on good terms. Good luck!

Should be working July 5, 2014 at 11:10 am

Stories of engagement/wedding success: A friend of a former AP of ours got pregnant late in her AP year, finished the year on good terms with HF, married the guy, all apparently worked out well. But I don’t know the details. To be honest, I don’t even know if she stayed here legally. And our AP said she never had any intention of returning to her home country.

Skny July 5, 2014 at 2:13 pm

I did get engaged and married while living with host family and all went well. We are all friends still. That being said, I was bitten by the same situation and decided that would not risk it anymore.

PhillyMom July 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm

My answer would be NO. Too many things to worry about, to many things that can go wrong. There will be another significaant person in your Au Pair life and I can imagine she will try to make him happy and not you, if things will go the wrong way…

Peachtree Mom July 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm

Good point about the what ifs and who pays in the end despite everyone being like family. Our aupair did total our car last November, her fault. The police wanted to see everything related to her being here. Our insurance company was great but I am not sure if they would have been if anything had been amiss. From last November, the claims the other driver filed on behalf of himself and his son are STILL pending. Our aupair was a good driver, accidents happen. We saw a lawyer to try and limit our liability in the future, his advice was to follow all the rules to the letter so you could withstand scrutiny if a case ever went to a lawsuit….and carry a hefty policy. Our aupair has also been to the doctor using her insurance so illness and injury happens also. I agree, finish her term, she returns home and then comes back with the natural, legal progression of paperwork. I planned a wedding from Iraq and had a 2 year separation from my husband before we were married due to different assignments. They should be fine.

Seattle Mom July 5, 2014 at 3:02 pm

I don’t have any further advice but after reading most of the comments above I would be way too risk-averse to go into this situation knowingly.

Not today July 5, 2014 at 3:30 pm

So our former au pair did get married. We still keep in touch with her. But we found out from our LCC that our agency says that marriage invalidates their side of the J-1 contract. It’s supposedly in the paperwork they give the au pair. Conveniently it isn’t in the host family info and what I was given was a quote of a page but never the whole handbook.

But that part is another story. Given that we were told that she couldn’t get married and still be an au pair, life got complicated. She got married before the time was up (by not very long) but we couldn’t be there. That’s still a sore point for all of us.

If you extend, set some rules in writing. 1. how many overnight visits? work nights, etc 2. If possible, have her talk to an immigration lawyer so they both know the costs 3. Remind her there’s an engagement visa, where she can come back on that 4. Remind her about visas and SSNs for working (life isn’t easy when you can’t work and $ is tight) 5. Get her or have her get her own phone just in case 6. Be prepared for some drama.

Know that sometimes all the great conversations will be ignored for whatever reasons.

JenNC July 5, 2014 at 11:04 pm

Thanks everyone, it s a little stressful, but she has a short time period to make a decision, I have given her plenty of information, and told her she CANNOT get married while an aupair! and instructed safest best route is to return to her home country get married there and apply to enter country as a legal spouse . I am willing to extend, because I wanted to extend long before this came up, but only if she agrees to do it this way.I have versed her in risk of staying in country illegally. And we can’t help her if she is here illegally.

My one concern is if we choose to extend can she return home at the end of the year? She wants to go home and take fiancée to meet her family and let him ask her father ,

JenNC July 5, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Will she just have to go to consulate to have visa renewed? And then be allowed back into the US for her 6 month extension ? I don’t want to steer her wrong. Jen

NoVA Twin Mom July 6, 2014 at 8:29 am

I *thought* they generally didn’t have to go home to renew their visa to extend – something about the visa still states the old expiration date but paperwork they get from the au pair agency shows a later date. This is generally why au pairs have trouble leaving and getting back into the country at the end of their year (or in their extension period). In fact, I *think* that by going home she actually puts herself in jeopardy of NOT having her visa renewed and having a bigger problem because her life/commitments are in the US but she’s not allowed to go back.

The ability to get a new visa “at home” at the end of their year is dependent on what country they’re from – if she’s from a country where au pairs generally successfully complete their years and go home, she’ll have a better chance of getting a renewed visa than if she’s from a country where au pairs generally overstay their visas.

THIS – the question of whether or not it’s a good idea for your au pair, from her specific country, to return to her home country at the very end of her original visa and attempt to get a new visa – is a question you need to discuss with your LCC and that she’s probably going to have to discuss with the agency. My understanding with our extension au pair last year is that if she wanted to finish her year successfully she could visit “nearby islands” (so, go on a cruise out of Miami, for instance) but not go home (Europe) while in her extension due to how the paperwork looked. If she’d gone further away, she wouldn’t have been let back into the US.

While I’m sure there are exceptions to every rule (and I’m sure someone will pipe in with someone they know that did this successfully or went to Canada instead and got the paperwork done there), the idea of her trying to go home at the very end of her current visa and “crossing her fingers” that she’ll be granted a new visa (particularly if she’s from a country where au pairs are “known” to overstay their visas or get married before they leave, then “make it legal” afterward) would make me nervous.

I know she probably wants to go home, but could she talk to the LCC about the timing – maybe in month 10 of her visa instead of month 12? Because then there would be a “cushion” of time left on her original visa when she wants to return? Of course, I *think* if she gets denied on the new visa, that might invalidate the original visa, so that’s something else you’ll want to ask. You might end up with a room full of your au pair’s belongings, her unable to get back into the US, and no child care if this all goes south. Especially if she were to mention at any point in the visa interview that the reason she wants to stay in the US is because she’s engaged (and the visa officer WILL notice the engagement ring :))

WarmStateMomma July 6, 2014 at 9:24 am

This is my understanding, but I think there are plenty of “traps for the unwary” and exceptions. To add to the headache, the rules change often and even the supervisors at USCIS don’t know them well. (We just had an issue with this last month – but prevailed after troublesome delays.)

My guess is that the home country is a big factor here, but I also know a Canadian guy who had difficulty when he married an American woman. They were both highly-paid professionals – so no desperate foreign spouse trying to leave a bad situation and no American spouse just taking money for access to the US. They were hassled for a long time because Immigration thought it was a sham marriage. Can you imagine the indignity of having to prove your love to a bureaucrat?

Taking a Computer Lunch July 6, 2014 at 1:08 pm

APs do not return home to extend their visa – that is granted in-country by the State Dept. The only reason for an AP to go home in their first year is to permit them to get a new visa that will allow them to leave the U.S. and return during their second year. This generally works for Europeans. My guess is it won’t work for APs from other parts of the world.

AP #2, from a European country, did get a new visa about 3 months before the end of her first year with us. Her extension was contingent on successfully getting a new visa so she could home and celebrate Christmas with her family.

AP #3, from South America, had to go to the U.S. consulate twice to get a visa at all. We were lucky that her family could afford the expense, because she ended up being a wonderful AP.

TexasHM July 6, 2014 at 3:03 pm

So their original visa expires and they are not granted a new one in the US. What happens is you get a revised DS2019 that allows the AP to extend as long as they are in the country so AP would have to show expired visa and new DS2019 if questioned in second year. To get a new visa an AP has to return to their home country and apply just like they did originally to become an AP and if they get a new one (huge variance by country) then they actually could travel in their second AP year outside the US but I digress…
Europeans from allied countries are the only ones I have seen do this successfully but comment above had the best advice – get agency involved. They are going to know what countries are easily getting visas and where there are challenges.
Not trying to be a Debbie downer on this but I personally would not risk this with a South American AP. They often have trouble getting the original visa and I have never heard of a South American AP getting a new second year visa but that’s just me.
If you both decide to extend and you both are fully committed and ready to manage this process then that’s great but I would make one of the extension conditions that she can’t leave the country period. APs are highly discouraged from leaving the US in the last 90 days of their visa because immigration can (and does) deny them even when they have time left on a first year visa.
We actually tell APs this is in the interview process (no leaving the US in the last 90 days or extension timeframe period. If they want to go home to visit before extension it needs to between 6-9mos into the first year.

CapitolHostMom July 7, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Sometimes I lament and think, “Oh, my fill-in-the-blank au pair issue is so serious and stressful” as I slurp down an iced latte on my patio. And then I read a post like this and realize my issues are no biggie. I don’t know how I would even handle a situation like this. But I love reading about it! I love this blog.

Returning HM July 7, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I was thinking the same thing! Our au pair had two car accidents in under two weeks, and lied repeatedly about one of them, but I still think that’s nothing compared to the issues others on here are facing!

JenNC July 8, 2014 at 9:36 pm

We had a good talk and I spoke with a family member with a lot of immigration knowledge, I told her I would extend if we both feel this is the best option for all of us. That I do have concerns about extending, because I want our relationship to remain as great as it is now, with that said, she agreed that extension may not be best option because she also wants to make sure we end on great terms, she hasn’t made a solid decision yet, but I think she is leaning towards not extending, simply because she wants to maintain our family relationship after marriage, and there is worry that extension could tarnish it. I am fine with not extending, but I hate it for my kids, because they love her so, but they will be okay, and hopefully they will still be seeing her a bit if she goes through with getting married. So looks like I will probably be aupair hunting again soon. Jen

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