Smart Risks vs. Risky Risks
Everything is risky, including traveling with your au pair outside of the US while she is on a J-1 visa. We know from previous conversations that even though a visa may still be valid, a customs person could deny your au pair re-entry into the USA.
But how real is this risk? Host Mom Eden would love to know if anyone has experience with this issue.
Also, though, there is a subtext here— that since the host family knew before matching that they’d be traveling to Canada during the au pair’s year, and since the host family made this clear to the agency, the agency should have counseled the host family in advance to time their au pair year so that she’d be well within her visa dates when they travelled. Sadly, I think that we’ve all learned over the years that few agencies really pay attention to this kind of host family detail. They pay attention to all the basic requirements, but as for the rest we’re on our own.
Not only is the family left to figure this out themselves, but the agency has basically washed their hands of responsibility — and made unhelpful recommendations to.
However, maybe those of you with more experience might be able to help Eden gauge her risks more precisely– and consider options.
(Note, extending their au pair for another 6 months or more won’t help this situation, since the extension from the agency does not get her additional, formal time on her J-1 visa.)
We live in San Francisco & have a trip planned for mid-late Aug to Vancouver Canada. We had been clear w/ our au pair agency (Cultural Care Au Pair) that we travel to Canada every summer time & that travel was a top priority for our au pair.
We checked & made sure our au pair’s J-1 visa didn’t expire before the travel dates since I understand their visa’s do not always map to the 12-month program dates. In our case her J-1 visas expires a few days after our return date from Vancouver, so its close but a valid visa for a few dates post re-entry date. Her J-1 visa has an “M” on it indicating unlimited multiple entries.
We also checked government websites to see if there was some reason that the last month of a J-1 visa was not really valid but basically it’s pretty clear that the visa is valid so long as it’s not expired. There is always risk w/ traveling, even on a new visa, but there didn’t appear to be any information that au pair’s are declined re-entry to the US if their visa is valid but only a week or a month from expiry.
Now our local coordinator is saying that Cultural Care Au Pair’s policy is to discourage any travel outside the US during the au pair’s last 2 months. Our coordinator told our au pair this & also told me that we should not count on our au pair going. I asked if this was a policy or a suggestion & she refused to answer stating ”all I can say is that we do not recommend it & we have told your au pair that there is risk.” The damage may already be done as the LCC has convinced our au pair that any travel in the last 1-2 months of her visa could (w/ high probability) result in our au pair being declined re-entry into the US.
Our agency’s suggestion is we simply let our au pair go 30-days early & get a new au pair a few weeks before we travel. Clearly not a solution.
We are trying to gather any information on other people’s experiences.
· Is there any reason to believe that re-entry is often denied if a J-1 visa is only 1-2 months or 1-2 weeks from expiry?
· Or is the risk the same – that at any given time a customs person can choose to deny re-entry even w/ a valid J-1 visa & passport?
· Are the risks lower in that we are just travelling to Canada for 10 days & our au pair comes from Sweden?
· Is the au pair agency just being super risk-adverse?
Thank you for any & all help!
Be sure to read: Au Pair Extensions: How do they work if her visa isn’t extended?
Image: Vancouver skyline by mag3737