Is It Too Late To Extend? Any J-1 Workarounds?

by cv harquail on January 18, 2015

Imagine it — you have an au pair you love. She didn’t want to extend. Now she’s changed her mind, but the agency says it’s too late.

Is it really too late?


Dear Au Pair Mom–

We just ended the year with the world’s best au pair.  She is a part of our family. The kids miss her terribly as do my husband and I.

We invited her to extend and she was very torn – and in the end decided to decline our offer. On her last day with us she sobbed and told us she wished she had extended.  We were sobbing too.  That was January 5.

Now she’s in her travel month. Cultural Care says they cannot extend her J-1 visa at this point because her “program” has ended.

What I want to know is this – what’s the deal with staying in the country with an expired J-1? Has anyone ever heard of a “reinstated” J-1? And has anyone ever heard of Cultural Care “reinstating” an Au pair in their travel month?

Do I need a friend at the State Department or is this a lost cause?

Thanks in advance for any help, thoughts, or information the you and the AuPairMom community might be able to offer  –– FingersCrossed Host Mom

Image: Too Late, by Jo Hathaway on Flickr


TexasHM January 18, 2015 at 4:45 pm

As far as the J1 is concerned it is my (not an attorney) understanding that once it lapses it’s done, meaning you have to extend and get the extension before the original J1 expires. They MIGHT have been able to rush process it a few weeks before expiry but I’ve never seen or heard of one being altered even within a week or two of expiry (state dept rules not the agencies). Obviously there are illegal and less ideal methods (get married) for her to stay but once that J1 lapses she’s got to return home and live outside the U.S. for two years before she can get another J1. Did you decide not to get a new au pair? Just wondering what you’re doing for care now. Why did she say she didn’t want to extend originally? Honestly once an AP made the decision to go I can’t imagine having a solid second year (again probably not what you want to hear). Even confident extenders often regret or rethink their decision so if she was already on the fence I don’t know that I would fight this battle because I find it hard to believe once her friends left and homesickness sets in that she would still be so confident in her already shaky decision. I hope that came across right (me trying to illustrate you might rethink the second year even if it could be done).

SKNY January 18, 2015 at 8:01 pm

CV would you be able to delete my comment?
I have already spoken to the mom.

SKNY January 18, 2015 at 8:02 pm

Now that you mention, id be afraid to do any big investment in this au pair… I agree she may not last a year more…

Should be working January 18, 2015 at 9:40 pm

There is a difference between sadness at departure and missing on one hand, and wanting and having good reason to spend a second year. One au pair of ours begged and begged for extension. She was a good au pair but I felt the reasons weren’t very good and she was simply postponing starting her life. Finally I gave in. Three months into the 1-year extension . . . she felt like she needed to go home and start her life.

It’s ok to really really love and miss an au pair. Having her come back is not necessarily a great idea and it sounds to me like it would be hard to do. I suppose she could re-sign up with the same agency, go through the whole verification process and get the visa. Why not propose she do this for NEXT year?

Taking a Computer Lunch January 18, 2015 at 10:01 pm

I always warn my APs – who are invariably in tears during their first full day in my house – the excitement of orientation is gone and they are alone in my house facing their full year ahead of them – “Today is the second hardest day of your year. The hardest day will be the day you say goodbye.”

If you’ve had a great year with your AP, then her goodbye to you will be emotional. But her response is to that spark of the final goodbye (or penultimate – if she’ll be returning to your family briefly after her travel month). In her minds eye, she might imagine that her extension year will have the same emotional intensity as her first year, but it won’t. Unless her best friends started the year after your AP, then her extension year will be radically different – she’ll be saying goodbye to her best friends all year and may be less likely to reach out to incoming APs. It is likely that her group of best friends will become increasingly smaller.

While DH and I often ask our APs to extend with us, we know that successful extension APs
– have a broad pool of friends who are not APs
– have a reason to stay in the U.S. that is bigger than “just because” or “I’m having fun”
– have clear goals that can be met by staying and not by returning

Anonymous in CA January 19, 2015 at 6:27 pm

I need a little TACL in my pocket when I train (and hire, and coach) new APs. You have nailed everything. I love this, “Today is the second hardest day of your year. The hardest day will be the day you say goodbye.” And you are spot on with respect to successful extension APs.

JJ Host Mom January 19, 2015 at 8:14 pm

I would love to have a post on what things to look for when deciding to extend. TAL nailed it. We’re in the middle of a match falling apart, just started the two week countdown. Things went great for the first year but started going south about the time her extension year started. If I’d have read TACLs post (and similar posts around here that I’ve found since) I don’t think we’d have extended in the first place.

TexasHM January 19, 2015 at 11:21 pm

We ran into exactly the same thing. Friends started going home, no concrete goals to stay motivated, she withdrew and homesickness took hold and although she had a family emergency I have no doubt it would have ended either way, luckily her family member recovered but if I am being honest it saved the relationship as well – rockstar first year AP and while I had concerns about the lack of direct goals and AP friends going home I ignored it saying she was so fantastic she would be the exception – nope. :( Every AP we have had has wanted to extend, first did and was fine up until last couple months (engagement), second was one mentioned here, third wanted to extend but got amazing oppty in NZ so we strongly pushed her to that, then it got delayed and we had already matched (with our only failed AP) and in hindsight we should have probably cancelled the match and kept the rockstar another 6 months (we only had her 9 mos anyway from rematch and she had plans) but hindsight is 20/20. We make it clear that we will discuss extension and consider it but no guarantees whatsoever and no discussions until at least 6-8 months into the year.

JJ Host Mom January 20, 2015 at 12:04 am

Yep, that’s exactly what happened here. It’s really a shame – she was so wonderful and upbeat and great with the kids for the first year, but then she withdrew and started acting morose and like she resented the au pair program – living under someone else’s roof and having to follow our ideas of how the kids should be handled. She’s a very different person now than she was then. The decision to rematch was made by mutual agreement and her relief once we decided it was palpable; ours too. I still have hopes that we’ll stay in touch over the years, but things would have been so much better for all of us if we’d never extended.

So all of that said, maybe in the same or a related post, a discussion of what to do when a good match goes bad after an extension? For me it was a boiling-frog situation; things gradually changed over 6 months and although I tried communicating and coaching once I realized there was a problem, I look back now and realized that there was never anything I could have done, and that by trying to coach I was just making things worse. But I don’t know what I could have done differently than I did. We let things go for so long because she’d been so great to us for the first year, and I still think we owed her that, but on the other side, it would have been much better for the kids, not to mention her and us, if her au pair year had ended on a good note 6 months ago.

TexasHM January 20, 2015 at 12:33 am

Brutal, been there. So I saw signs and started pointing them out and asking if she really wanted to be here or if she regretted her decision and she apparently told her parents (once they dropped the bomb they wouldn’t visit her in year two either) she was homesick and should talk to us about leaving early and they told her no, you committed to a second year you are just bored, go to a different family/part of the country. She came back to us (on Christmas Day no less) and said exactly that – love you but think I should go to another place to shake off the homesickness. We mutually discussed and agreed she would cover us for up to 90 days while we scrambled for a replacement (committing to try to reduce the window to give her as much second year left as possible and giving her a reference as long as she maintained care) and we had just matched for 6 weeks later when her dad went into the ICU and threw us into immediate rematch pool. Got a rockstar, all worked out, relationship saved, departing AP said after it wouldn’t have worked in a new family and going home was what needed to happen. Can’t say it was a graceful turn of events but it worked! Learned all of TACLs points above in the process!

Should be working January 20, 2015 at 2:19 am

JJ, I think you are the one that had a series of bad matches, left the program and then came back? And now this? I’m sorry.

I agree with TaCL’s very concise criteria. Friends who will stay, and a REAL reason to stay besides not having any particular reason to leave. And for most of the APs I will choose, the latter will never apply–I choose candidates who want to go to university, or at least say they do.

JJ Host Mom January 20, 2015 at 11:36 am

Oh man, TexasHM, that’s rough. It sounds like it worked out well for everyone in the end, but how stressful!

Hi SBW, yeah, that’s me. I’ve been reading along here but haven’t had much to say lately. We are going to leave the program again. I don’t know if we’ll come back in the future or not. The au pair program is so great when it works, and our first year with this au pair was just awesome. But we seem to have a bad overall track record with finding and keeping great au pairs. I wish I could crack the magic formula.

TexasHM January 20, 2015 at 3:56 pm

We strongly considered leaving the AP program after our recent disastrous match/rematch but after giving it some time (and the encouragement of our previous APs) we took a step back, decided to give it another shot and really screened hard (and I have a rep on here already for my extensive interview process – which btw doesn’t help you if you get interview exhaustion and start compromising and overlooking yellow flags and get happy ears – last match) and just matched with an au pair to arrive in 3 mos (I’ve done too quick – 6 weeks – and too far out – 5/6 mos, now feel like about 3 mos out is the sweet spot for interviewing/matching). JJ as you have seen when it works it is awesome and so much better than other options (IMHO), if you think about reconsidering please feel free to reach out I would be happy to compare notes and share my interview questions/templates/process if you think it might help you in screening. :)

hOstCDmom January 20, 2015 at 4:08 pm

TexasHM, did you switch agencies? i.e. leave Interexchange? (for CCAP? or back to APIA) Previously you were very, very “pro-IE”, but I got the impression from your more recent posts you are not continuing with IE? Do you mind sharing that experience, why you are switching (if indeed you are) etc? I’m curious because you were such a proponent of IE, and made us strongly consider switching to IE, that I would love to glean your insight on why it was no longer the agency for you?

TexasHM January 20, 2015 at 4:53 pm

hOstCDmom happy to expound. I do like IE a lot. I like their policies, had interactions with several folks at corporate that were great, got a rockstar AP from them when we were in desperation mode (family emergency – rematch). Our AP was runner up for AP of the Year for them and we are in the 2015 IE calendar. We are going to try CC this round for several reasons.
1 – has by far the largest cluster in our area and our APs were struggling a bit because APIA had about 5-6 APs in half the metro – large area but IE only has 4 in the entire metro!! (7 million population) CC has a dozen just in our suburbs and adjoining suburb, another dozen in the adjoining suburb on the other side of us so over two dozen APs in a 15 minute (not mile) radius vs 4 APs total in a 1+ hour radius.
2 – when we were thrown into rematch there were no viable candidates (only criteria being used was driver at the time) available for over a week (when we stopped looking because we found backup care). Now it was December right before the holidays but we don’t have family close by and don’t have the flexibility to be able to wait and pray, we need a larger pool (called CCAP they had over two dozen that met our criteria of driver, over 21, and swimmer on the same day we gave up with IE – I called for context just to see if it would have made a difference).
3 – Major LC challenges. We had 3 LCs at APIA and the one at IE was brand new as well but never having had an experienced AP I don’t think I knew what I was missing until we got into trouble. :( We had LC concerns (even when we had a rockstar AP mind you) and then when our disastrous match arrived it crashed and burned from there. The CCAP LC in our area is going on 11 years and I have heard good things about her from APs in the area and families and I spoke with her for an hour and a half before we considered applying.

Net-net – by far largest cluster here, I have heard good things over the years and we couldn’t continue with existing IE LC. CCAP and IE actually have very similar policies (which I like) but CCAP is the largest agency as well so I feel a little like Goldilocks (too big, too small, just right?) but IE corporate did right by us so I would absolutely consider IE again in the future if they had a different LC and I had a better backup care options.

TexasHM January 20, 2015 at 5:57 pm

PS – I also like that CCAP is so transparent in rematch. When I inquired about the two dozen active rematch candidates they could give me APs side, HPs side, LCs comments and contact numbers for all of them were offered up without prodding. With IE it is driven through the LCs and contact information is not given and I had to get permission to speak with our rockstar rematch APs LC in another city (because she had been living with her and our LC was brand new), otherwise that wouldn’t have been permitted and I wouldn’t have been comfortable matching with a rematch candidate just taking my LCs word for it and not getting all sides. All things that have been said before by other smarties on here but things that weren’t as important to me at the time because we hadn’t had a failed match before.
Now that I have researched CCAP more, I like that they have agencies in the APs countries vs paying third party agencies based on number of candidates they recruit (whether they work out or not), I like that they have exclusive viewing with a very large pool of candidates (free for all is great for sweet geo families, murder for “alternative geos” and I like the types of questions asked and the DiSC profiles although I admit, I haven’t entirely figured out how to use those or what I am looking for on them. ;)
My ex APs have said they knew AP candidates that tried to go to CCAP and were turned down (one for failing a psych profile) that were accepted at other agencies and shipped over here, crashed and burned and sent home. CCAP also pays for the flight home if an AP doesn’t work out for some reason which I realize isn’t a perk as much for the host family but in our failed match I felt horrible because rematching on her meant not only her going home (safety issues) but her having to spend the savings she saved up working two jobs all summer for her plane ticket home. I don’t need any extra guilt or stranded APs weighing on my mind. Every agency has its pluses and minuses, I think just like AP candidates you have to rank what is most important to you and look for the best fit in an agency as well. I hope this is it!

Returning HM January 20, 2015 at 9:22 pm

I agree with much of what TexasHM wrote about CCAP. I just like their openness much more. We are going through matching right now with both APIA and CCAP, and I can’t stand that with APIA, they only give the candidates our very basic bio info and a couple of pictures when we select to interview them. With CCAP, the candidate gets access to our responses to VERY detailed questions about our family, lifestyle, home, community, expectations, etc. I actually have started copying/pasting the CCAP application materials into emails to share with the APIA candidates, because otherwise I feel like they have so little to go on in evaluating us, and also, they then ask basic questions that I have already answered in great depth and don’t need to start typing out again.

I also really like the DISC profiles and miss them when reviewing APIA applications. That said, our excellent APs have been ALL OVER THE PLACE in terms of their designations on the DISC, so I am not sure that we have only one type of profile that is good for us. Rather, I can tell (I think) when an AP may NOT be a good match for us based on the DISC profile. It’s not an absolute science, I’m sure, but it’s yet another piece of info I like to consider.

All this said, we have a much better candidate going with APIA right now than in CCAP, so we may end up switching back for next year….

Should be working January 20, 2015 at 10:03 pm

I’m a DiSC fan to the extreme. I paid $35 to take it myself, then made my husband and our then-au-pair. Frankly it was really helpful in understanding my own work habits and also how to communicate with people of other profiles. I think anyone who works with other people should do it.

But in order to understand how CCAP uses it, I STUDIED the 15-page report (that APs dont get, since it’s a really truncated thing they offer them) to understand the test and what it measures. I learned about the 16 different profiles. Basically there are only a few profiles we would consider based on what I know now. It’s worth it, in my view, to really become an expert at this test and what it means.

Taking a Computer Lunch January 20, 2015 at 10:09 pm

For the past few years APIA candidates have received our HF letter, all the pictures we provide, and I don’t know what else – but I have had to completely rewrite my “dare to match with us” initial email, because it seems like so much repetitive overkill otherwise. I can tell which candidates read both, because they comment on the similarities in the two texts, otherwise I receive the generic “You seem like a nice family, but…” (which means The Camel has done a good job of weeding out the candidates for us.

Mimi January 20, 2015 at 10:09 pm

SBW- where did you go to take the profile? I’m also a DiSC fan but don’t have the info anymore and haven’t seen it that cheap anywhere.

Should be working January 21, 2015 at 12:58 am

There were other websites too. Basically I insist on high S, with either high I or high C in addition.

TexasHM January 21, 2015 at 1:02 am

I’d love to study the DiSC report (where can I find that?) and I fully intend to watch that and do like SBW said and figure out what types aren’t a good match. One other thing I noticed – almost everyone I have talked to at CCAP either currently hosts an AP themselves or has in the past (kids now older and aged out). This is a HUGE difference from (perhaps my personal experience) where no one I spoke with IE was hosting or hosted and ditto for APIA although one of their directors had been an AP herself many years ago. One plus for APIA is they have the job loss guarantee so if you are in a shaky position that could be a huge selling point for them – they basically refund your agency fees as long as you agree to keep and pay your AP their stipend for the remainder of their year. I was unexpectedly laid off (crazy situation) and APIA offered up the refund right away and was fantastic about it. Two months later I was into another job and tried to pay them back or pay the remaining months and they declined – said they appreciated us keeping the AP and once it was refunded the contract is closed out and good luck on my new job (awesome!). Didn’t have LC issues (they were just new and hadn’t hosted and turned over annually and small cluster), but had horrible experiences with the regional director when our AP had a family emergency (continue to hear stories about her through the grapevine even now a year+ after leaving). Just trying to be fair. ;) Like I said, pluses and minuses so it depends on what you are looking for and what is important to you but thanks as always to the frequent contributors on here because I hadn’t considered CCAP much before the blog and btw – I know Julie Dye (CCAP LC in CA) contributes on here sometimes and we had connected via email awhile back and I actually called her on a Saturday morning in the middle of our burnout/rematch meltdown to ask her advice as an experienced LC (because I have never had one) and she spent over an hour giving excellent advice and offering fantastic suggestions during her free/family time to an exhausted HM at the end of her rope in another state/region she would never get paid on and followed up with me as we went through it which was more than my own LC did! She has continued to answer questions for me and check in and the matching coordinators I have to say are AMAZING at CCAP. Listened to me, put solid matches in my account (never had that happen before) and then asked for feedback if we declined them and LISTENED and adjusted their suggestions as they got to know what we were looking for better. Also called regularly to check in and offer assistance, explained and compared DiSC profiles to me (among candidates) and offered suggestions along the way (told me to pass on a candidate because they were considering pulling her profile – never had that happen!). Anyway, if I were a new host mom that alone would have been invaluable to me and it was even as a tenured host mom! No agency is perfect and there are some downsides to CCAP I am happy to discuss too but right now the advantages are a better match for us and the disadvantages are not dealbreakers (things like the consecutive days off rule – I can work around that and their travel fees are really high for our area but they may be changing that, cluster mtgs are mandatory – we like that and they do closely monitor and uphold the state dept guidelines – we are fine with that too). Funny sidenote, I have a HM friend that sometimes leaves the kids overnights with the AP (stays within the 45 hours a week and other rules but she will fly out for a business trip so they are overnight alone with AP) and she was interested in CCAP and I told her not to go there for that reason! LOL I told her to stay where she is (APC) or try APIA because at least in our area those two don’t police and follow the policies like IE and CCAP do. They are more don’t ask don’t tell and I actually had an APIA counselor flat out tell me that when she was saying that she knew the families paid extra hours for babysitting, were sponsoring student visas and an AP had gotten married and was still working for a family as an active AP on the program until she got her docs. She said she would tell corporate at APIA and did in the beginning but they basically told her as long as the families and APs were happy to look the other way. Also pretty crazy stories about the families she did not recommend that they accepted anyway (and then later kicked out for serious abuses) which is part of why that LC left APIA. Again, it could have been the nightmare regional coordinator driving this so maybe this varies by region but just our experience here.

TexasHM January 21, 2015 at 1:03 am

ok SBW maybe dumb question – how can I tell if they are high I or C and why do you look for those traits?

Should be working January 21, 2015 at 2:29 am

When you get your complete DiSC report, it includes about 5pp explaining all 16 profiles. CCAP offers a very truncated report on candidates but by understanding the longer descriptions in your report and matching a few key words, it’s easy to see what profile an AP candidate is. Like for high S CCAP will refer to patience and ability to handle repetitive tasks. If it says restless and changeable that is low S (I myself scored the lowest possible S on the DiSC scale). We like high S because we want patience, loyalty and indeed there are some boring repetitive elements to aU pairing.

If it says the AP values accuracy and precision, and tact and diplomacy, those are high C. If it says she likes to do things her way and try the untried, that is low C.

Combinations of traits are important. High SC is patient, calm, goes along with expectations. High IS is empathic, friendly, good listener. High S with some high I and C is loyal, patient and persuasive. These are my faves.

TexasHM January 21, 2015 at 8:53 am

Awesome insight thanks!

JJ Host Mom January 21, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Thanks for the offer TexasHM, I’ll reach out to you if we decide to dive back in. Great discussion on DISC profiles.

TexasHM January 22, 2015 at 11:20 am

I thought of one more sidenote – we referred many families to IE and several of them had feedback about there were not enough candidates and concerns because IE reads all the emails that are sent through the passport system which they found really intrusive and upsetting. Mind you, these are host families that I know and these are experienced families whose APs have always had great things to say about them and are nice people that didn’t appreciate being chastised by IE corporate because they told a candidate they weren’t a good match or weren’t ready to make a final decision but good luck and would love to hear where they ended up. I didn’t run into this issue because I use email templates for all my interview rounds so I was always emailing the AP candidates directly (not using Passport) but I was shocked to hear that someone was reading and intervening about comments that weren’t at all related to anyone being rude or breaking any state dept rules. I actually reached out to IE about it thinking it couldn’t be true but sure enough, it was and they stood by it. We aren’t talking about families trying to thwart exclusive matching here, we are talking about families that wanted to interview more before making a decision and were willing to pick back up the APs profile or got down to two candidates that they had talked to extensively and liked very much and had to make a tough decision and let one go and said would be happy to hear where you end up or have you come stay at our home if you visit the area type comments. IE has a very strict no further communication policy and they were sending emails to enforce that were making these families feel patronized and like they had done something horribly wrong and I can empathize and think that’s excessive. If someone was breaking a rule (asking a candidate about working 60 hours a week or babysitting on the side) I would be more sympathetic to IE getting involved but that was not at all the case on the stories I heard. So IE families just be aware, someone is reading and reviewing all your correspondence in Passport.

hOstCDmom January 22, 2015 at 11:28 am

Wow…big brother. Why would anyone use Passport then? Wouldn’t they all just email APs direct? what advantage does Passport offer? Is it breaking IE rules to email directly?

TexasHM January 22, 2015 at 11:48 am

So I don’t think its against the rules to email APs directly (I always have and they provide their email on their profile) and that’s what I always did which is why I didn’t run into this problem myself but after hearing about it from a couple referrals that were put off (and decided not to go with IE after that interaction) I asked! I think just like with APIA the only advantage to Passport is that if you are in the system looking at a profile you can message right there in the system from the profile page (so saves you from having to go to another tab, open your email, open a message, etc) so it does save some steps and can be convenient – I occasionally used it for a one liner message to a candidate and I know, no one should ever assume that things done on a site are privacy protected but they didn’t expect that their emails would be read without there having been a complaint or some reason to look into things. Yes, you e-sign a disclosure I am sure but still, these families expected some level of privacy in messaging and did not move forward with IE because of this and I can understand why. We had already matched (with failed AP) so we hung in there but I definitely wasn’t going to be using Passport for interviewing and I made sure I was honest with the other families about it so they too could decide how they wanted to handle that. :/

WarmStateMomma January 22, 2015 at 5:43 pm

I have a question about the DiSC reports for those who have used them: do APs from the same culture all get the same result?

One agency does something with personality colors and all the Chinese APs had the same colors. I checked APs from another continent to see if there were colors beyond yellow and blue, and there are several possible colors.

TexasHM January 22, 2015 at 5:50 pm

So I have only gone one matching round with CC so I can only speak to this round but I did not find that the same country = the same results at all. I should try and copy some of the report from the AP we just matched with to give you an idea but I would think it might be impacted some by cultural norms (maybe one country they are taught to not question authority and be more passive and that would show up) but there are also other metrics like how they respond to stress (I would think thats not culturally universal) or how optimistic they are. Just my two cents. :)

Should be working January 22, 2015 at 7:20 pm

Not sure if this will land in the right place, I’m trying to reply to the question about DiSC profiles being the same within one culture.

Fascinating question! I know that there are some DiSC profiles that are less common in Europe/North Amer and more common in Asia, I can’t remember what they were but probably high S&C combined with D somehow.

There are newer DiSC graphs that use a totally different system to express the result, I think with colors in dots in a circle or square. I’m a fan of the “classic” DiSC graph, with a curvy line across a grid. It is easier to see the relationships between the different characteristics on the classic grid, in my opinion.

From looking at many European DiSCs I have noticed that there are a few profiles that are very common: high IS (empathy, friendliness), high DI (inspiring, leader, go-getter), and high S (enthusiast, restless). Several profiles are rare among AP candidates from my experience (like high DC). My guess is that the AP program attracts friendly, people-oriented types who like to do things for and with others on one hand like the high IS types (and maybe such types want the go-abroad adventure but want the family-like social element); and on the other hand the go-getter, high DI adventurous types (who might be great childcare givers too). The other profiles do show up some but I can see why someone who is high D (dominance) and low everything else would not want to be an au pair and would know that. And really it is to me remarkable how many are high IS and high DI.

I can’t see more than one Chinese AP on the site right now, otherwise I would compare a bit.

TexasHM January 22, 2015 at 8:39 pm

Fascinating! Ok I vote that SBW (in her infinite free time of course ;) ) should open a DiSC consulting practice because I would totally pay you to figure what I want and decipher profiles for me! ;)

Should be working January 23, 2015 at 11:20 am

Correction: the enthusiast profile is high I, not high S.

ProPair January 20, 2015 at 12:58 am

I loved what TaCL had to say about an AP’s pool of friends shrinking. In Holland, I was the last AP to leave my circle of friends, and it sucked (this did, however, make more room for doing a few special things with the kids in my last few weeks). I have a suggestion for the OP: if your AP leaves the country briefly, can she come back on a tourist visa and stay with you? Hear me out: depending on nationality (though most popular AP nationalities qualify), I know that APs in the EU can usually leave their host country when their residence permit expires, and that were they to return, they are granted a visa-free 90 days, available in any one month period. In this time, they could stay with the host family and essentially carry on au pairing. The term “cultural exchange” is a pretty loose one in Europe, and since in several countries au pairing isn’t considered work, there aren’t usually any rules to prevent an au pair spending 3 extra months with his/her his family.

I know that the laws are a lot stricter in the USA, but it is something you may consider looking into if you’re in need of child care or would like a little more time with your AP.

anon fo this January 20, 2015 at 3:31 am

I wouldn’t recommend this. Should the state dept. find out about this, it’s possible au pair wouldn’t be granted even a tourist visa ever again, not to mention a J-1 in the future. Going home with an expired J-1 and travelling back just days/weeks later as a tourist… Would be a red flag for me.

Plus there is no possibility of insurace (can’t drive HF car for example). And many many more risks.

Sina January 20, 2015 at 7:54 am

What you are suggesting is illegal and I would not encourage anyone to do it. The people at immigration are not stupid, if you have been in the country for 13 months and then go home briefly and then come back to the States to the same place you just lived a year they know what you are up to. I did return to my hf with a 4 month gap and had to go into secondary inspection and it was a horrible experience. I was nearly sent home and would never do it again!

WarmStateMomma January 20, 2015 at 5:53 pm

ProPair – visiting your former HF on a tourist visa is no problem, but paid child care is considered employment here and not allowed on a tourist visa. That puts both the HF and the AP in an illegal employment arrangement.

ProPair January 20, 2015 at 5:58 pm

@WarmStateMomma: thanks for clarifying. That’s very unfortunate, but also probably why au pairs in the USA get better compensation than those in Europe. I wish I could have been of more help, hopefully the OP can sort something out.

Mimi January 20, 2015 at 9:58 pm

We have only extended once (AP #2- who later married the guy she was dating here and returned after finishing her degree). It was a good second year, but we want them to experience more of the US than just our podunk area. So we do not extend, even though we have adored (almost) all our APs and we stay in touch and they come back to visit. If an AP wants to extend, we help her find another family and provide references, help with interview questions, even provide counsel when they have issues…the works.

For the OP, IMO the desire to stay is more about fear of going home that about wanting to stay.

FingersCrossed Host Mom January 20, 2015 at 11:13 pm

Thanks to everyone for your very thoughtful commentary. We as a family are still so devastated about the loss of The World’s Best Au Pair. I don’t use this descriptor lightly – my daughter’s preschool director even commented to me about how amazing our AP was with the kids.

For anyone in a similar situation, it seems that there is NOT actually a way to extend the un-extendable. Once you are inside 30 days, you are not able to extend that J-1 visa. I spoke to the person at CCAP (our agency, which has been tremendous) who deals with all DS-2019’s for their au pairs, and she told me she had come across this situation twice in the past. In one case they pushed all the way to the State Department with a crying au pair and crying host family on the phone, during which the State Department told them no, nothing could be done to extend and the AP had to go home.

For anyone who may fall into this situation, there may be a way to transfer from J-1 to tourist status (B1 or B2). However, by transferring visa type, the au pair would essentially not be able to work for the family and would only be able to live and travel within the US. Apparently a candidate must apply to the State Department for such a transfer, and the State Department may take 1-4 mos to decide on whether the transfer is granted; it seems the tourist visa is good for between 2-6 mos depending upon what is issued. Should a candidate be denied such a transfer, that candidate has 30 days to leave the US. I am told that during the time a candidate awaits such a decision, they are here legally, though please know I am not an attorney and have not verified this. This process is handled via an I-539, or Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.

So the long and short is that NO, it does not seem there is any way to extend her J-1 visa now that she is in her travel month, but should she wish to stay longer as a tourist and not as an au pair, she can apply to change her visa to a tourist visa.

Thank you to everyone who has been so helpful and thoughtful!! Will I ever have another au pair as exceptional as The World’s Best Au Pair? Will my family ever recover from such a blow? Topics for another post! :)

TexasHM January 22, 2015 at 1:27 am

I felt this way with our first great AP (dreaded interviewing and thought we topped out) and next got a rockstar so as a very experienced HM friend told me “there’s lots of amazing APs out there now go pick another winner”! We nominated two in a row for AP of the year (we don’t take that lightly either) so it’s definitely possible. Don’t settle, do your diligence, look for similar skills/traits and let us know where the next worlds best AP is from. ;)

Brooklyn_HP April 14, 2015 at 10:59 pm

I know this is a somewhat old thread, but I wanted to ask whether other HFs have had a good experience with extending for a second year? We just agreed to host our great AP another year and I’ve been so happy about it…until I saw the comments here. Now I’m wondering if we are making a mistake. Is there such a thing as a happy year 2??

Taking a Computer Lunch April 15, 2015 at 6:50 am

Yes, we had great experiences with the 3 APs who chose to extend with us. Encourage your Year 2 AP to continue to connect with incoming APs – especially if her friends have chosen to depart. If she has a strong contingent of friends who are staying, a boyfriend, or American friends, that will help her through the rough patches when her AP friends depart. APs with strong educational goals also tend to do well.

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