Matching Again with a Former Au Pair

by cv harquail on June 3, 2011

Can we ever ‘step in the same river twice’?
Can we pick up where we left off in a great host family – au pair relationship?

Or, is every au pair match, no matter with whom, a new adventure?

Is it possible to answer ‘yes’ to all of those questions, at the same time?


HostMominVA hopes so. She writes:

We’ve had four au pairs for our twins. Our current AP leaves early in the new year. (I don’t expect that she will want to extend because she is going home to go to university.) We do have another opportunity for something that’s like an extension….

Our second AP has expressed an interest in coming back for another au pair year (or two). In her original year with us, she stayed the full 12 months. She is young enough that she still qualifies for the au pair program.

I’m open to having her back. She loves the kids and I think that she would benefit from another experience abroad in the sense that she is still maturing as a young woman. Her professional goal is to care for children, so extra au pair experiences further her career.

  • Has anyone re-matched with an au pair after a year or more gap?
  • Any advice for making the second tour successful?
  • What is the most affordable way to match with an au pair when you only need the services of an agency facilitate the visa and the travel, not to coordinate the match or sponsor the training?


3060889838_527ed8ce3c_b.jpgI’d love all your thoughts and suggestions — HostMominVA

Images from the many large adventures of one small bear AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by sig hafstrom


Anna June 3, 2011 at 10:49 am

I have not done this. To make a second year successful, I think you will have to start anew, because you kids have grown and your expectations have changed.

To make it more affordable, I would find an agency that gives a significant discount for a pre-match (not all agencies even give a pre-match discount). Combine that with the discount for switching families (if you end up switching from your agency) or ask for an agency fee price match (if your current agency is cheaper), and I think you will get a great deal.
I know for sure that AuPairUSA (Interexchange) and GoAuPair have pre-match discounts. Some agencies might also have a discount for families with multiples! For example, I just looked at AuPairUSA website – $300 discount for pre-match, $500 switching family discount, and $200 discount for a family with multiples… $1000 total savings!
Shop around. Living in VA (I am here too) you have almost all existing agencies to choose from. I wonder if I know you.

WestMom June 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Hi Anna-
I have multiples, and am with Au Pair USA. Do you have a reference for the $200 discount for multiples? I’d like to see if I can qualify for this.

Agreed on finding the best priced agency. Au Pair USA does give a pre-match discount. Every little saving helps!

My 2 cents June 3, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I can really only offer experience here based on extension au pairs, but I think my experience is relevant or I wouldn’t post.

It was, on the one hand, super easy, less time consuming, and cheaper to just continue with a positive thing for another year and not engaging in matching and training and adjusting and risking. However, in the end, I cannot say it was the best decision or one I would make again. The au pair, while still a good, good person, really starting to wane in her interest and motivation level during year 2. And the waning started within months of the extension. For our part, we were less comfortable trying to address the waning interest and motivation given our now close relationship with her (if that makes any sense) and had, as well, become more lazy in our efforts to really monitor the childcare we were receiving and the quality of it. The kids were safe at all times, and she was still generally a positive influence, but was she the same au pair in year 2? No, not really, and it showed. Frankly, we couldn’t wait for year 2 to end and to get some fresh air toward the end.

I would not engage in another round with your former au pair. I think you have all developed and moved on and she can, and should, remain a favorite family friend. I think you are asking for trouble bringing her back. No matter what she says, or you say to yourself, she will arrive with favored status, will know this, and it will tamper with your leverage as the host parent.

WestMom June 4, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I am a non-extension HM for all the reasons expressed by My 2 cents. But in this case, I might give it a shot, assuming I have a clear understanding of the Au Pair’s motivation for coming back. What is she planning to study while here? How is she going to get the experience she needs for her future career working with children? What does she want to do when she goes back home? I would be hard pressed to commit to two years though; I am not convinced that spending 3 years with my family is helping her career prospects in any way, therefore I would be concerned that I am simply hosting a young adult who is simply delaying her transition to adulthood.

As others have mentioned, I would update my book and rules to reflect our ‘updated’ children and family, and I would clearly discuss the things that were ‘short of perfect’ the last time around and make sure they are a condition for this second-time around match.

Good luck in your decision!

Gianna June 3, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I was not aware that you could do this through a J1 program. I did not know that young
people could apply to be an aupair for a second or third time. Live and learn. Or maybe you are doing it on your own and sponsoring her as a student. I would love to know if someone can come back as an aupair. is there a waiting period ?

LisaExAuPair June 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm

It is called the repeat au pair program. A lot of the big agencies offer it, but it has only been available for a few years. In order to come back you have to have been back in your home country for at least two years after you completed you first program. You must also have completed your first program successfully (fulfilled your education requirement and stayed the whole year).

I was au pair for two years (extended with the same family) and loved it, so I have been thinking about doing it again. Would love to hear form other au pairs who have done it.

Somewhere over the rainbow June 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I’m going to be a Return Au Pair this year. :) But I will not go back to my previous hostfamily mainly because I would like to be in a different area this time.

Amelie - ex au pair June 3, 2011 at 3:48 pm

You can come back only once as an au pair, 2 years after you finished your first time, either to your first HF or to another one. You have to be 26 or younger and, and must have completed your first year (or, if you sign up for aditional time, you have to have finished that too).

mouse June 3, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Gianna: Yes you can come back as an au pair again, the waiting period is 2 years. as long as you still fit to the programme (age, especilly)

Gianna June 3, 2011 at 4:15 pm

This is wonderful news ! It would be a great post to hear from aupairs and host parents as to how it works out. Thank you everyone

FormerAu-PairIreland June 3, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I can only speak from an Au-Pair’s point of view and I have not been an Au-Pair in the US but Europe.
This said, I ended up working for my HF a second time. However I have only returned as a summer Au-Pair. It all worked out great, the kids loved having me back, I knew everything around the house, I still had friends in the area, I knew the place well enough to be fairly independent and I knew exactly what my duties were. The kids were older, so I actually found it easier and somehow I had less work to do (or felt like I had less work) than the first time ;) Things just worked out and therefore rules weren’t as “strict”.
Also I had become way more independent after living on my own for a year.

BUT: As much as I enjoyed having the kids around again, I was happy to go back to college after the summer ;). While everything is new the first time, things get back to “normal” pretty fast the second time and it is more like “returning home” than living abroad. You and your Au-Pair have to be aware that your relationship might be slightly different, that you both have changed (esp. if you haven’t seen each other for two years) and that things might get a little “boring” at some point.

a June 5, 2011 at 8:12 am

My previous HF also does this with their former au pairs and has a rotating schedule of which one will come for the summer. Then, during the summer months when the parents still work, the former au pair and the current au pair take the kids to the country house and have 100% responsibility for several weeks. (We are in Europe). I wouldn’t mind doing that either- I adore the kids, and I’m pretty they would ask me to do it again. This way, you get all the benefits of going back- seeing the kids you loved, perhaps having less to do (or at least a different job) since they’re older, and fitting in easily with a family you’ve known. However, just like FormerAu-PairIreland, a summer is as far as I would take it. I know that my former HF’s rules have changed since I left, and I just don’t think I could start anew with them. It would be just like going home and discovering that your family’s rules and traditions have changed. It’s normal- they’re a growing family, things change, but I also agree with a poster who said that it’s a set up for disaster. And then it’s just a shame to lose a good relationship with the former au pair.

anonmom June 3, 2011 at 10:44 pm

I have had two prior au pairs return for short (3 month) stints in the past to care for the children. It has been great! I think it is even better after they have returned home again, as i believe they really learned to appreciate the year they had while they were here more, once they were back home in their old routines. One au pair has been back twice and will return for 2 months for part of the summer, and another will piggyback by a day, and be here for 2 months. I have no worries, and everything runs so much smoother than just having a babysitter.

As for the agency aspect- they still charge you a hefty sum. So, that is why we have gone this route- it is cheaper for me to pay the airfare for the au pairs to return and pay their salary than having a full time sitter, nanny, etc. Plus, as we all know, the flexibility is key. We have done this 4 times already, and when the au pair returns, they are simply visiting under a tourist visa, as you can come for 3 months or less to visit without needing a J1. We do this for two reasons, obviously the convenience of childcare, but this way they can return and see the kids again, who do miss them. don’t kid yourselves, as the years go by, you will learn just how much the children are affected by their relationships with au pairs and the fact that they leave. This way, the children can see them again in person, and I have someone I can rely on. Usually we have done this with the breaks in their university studies, which have been very different than the breaks here. I also do not have to pay an agency this way.

Even though we have not done this for a year, I do recoemmend it- especially if the au pair was someone you trusted and had a goodrelationship with the children. My kids are exstatic that they will see 2 of their former au pairs this year. And, as I stated earlier, distance makes the heart grow fonder- the one au pair I truly expected would not miss us, has been the one that has been the most ‘homesick’ for us when she returned home, and it has been over 3 years since she left the first time, yet she still comes every year. I even had a former au pair come in between au pairs- this way I extended the time before having to match and pay the agency- the summer is a great time to have a former au pair back- especially if they are students. and the cost is much cheaper than that of summer camp if you have multiple children!

Good luck with your decision. I would be curious to know what, if any, discount the agency would offer you, as it would be like a -prematch-.

Noelle June 4, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I get the rationale here – particularly on cost and having a brief time-bound care period of care rather than a full year – but just wanted to put it out there that this doesn’t sound entirely legal.

anonmom June 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Anyone can come to the US on a visitor visa, as long as they are here less than three months. The au pair comes to our home as a guest- after all she was part of our family. Two of them have come every year to visit, and they also ask to come so they can spend time here again. We pay a babysitter after school to watch the kids or go out on a saturday night? And I am not filing a W2 for a saturday nigth babysitter! Why not pay the au pair while she is here? It will be the same thing when my niece comes from another country to stay, in exchange for airfare, she will watch the kids and I would pay her.

Seasoned Host Mom June 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I truly don’t mean to come off sounding rude, as I completely understand the reasoning behind what you are doing. But as an attorney with only a little understanding of the visa rules, I can still say with a great deal of certainty that this is not legal. Unless someone comes on the J1 or another work visa, they aren’t supposed to be making an income. If anyone has different information, please feel free to share it, as I don’t claim to be an immigration law specialist.

hOstCDmom June 5, 2011 at 12:09 am

Liklihood of getting caught? Minimal.


Re: HF, depends on their career and need to have a squeaky clean record of legal employment of domestic help, risk of IRS audit, and their general tolerance for risk and financial penalties. A HF needs to consider if they will ever want or need to work in an occupation (gov’t or private) where their past employment of domestic help/non-US citizens will be scrutinized, and how they would answer such questions if raised — will the HF lie? Confirm in writing/under oath? Disclose the truth and preclude the opportunity, or risk bigger consequences due to a lie?

Re: AP, tolerance for risk of deportation (probably minimal, Dept of Homeland Security won’t be knocking down your door, unless you are an AP from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon etc., but even an unexpected moving violation could draw the spotlight on the APs immigration status) and willingness to put in jeopardy future visa options to the USA. Violating a tourist visa by illegally working, and being deported, will not be viewed favorably if AP applies for a future visa, be it J-1, H1-B, L1, or a F visa. This could be a big price to pay for a 3 month “working holiday”.

The defense of “I don’t file a W2 for my after school sitter so I don’t need to for the AP” won’t hold water if you come under the IRS microscope. If your after school sitter is really an independent contractor (note, the IRS generally disagrees with the notion that your regular childcare provider, i.e. after school sitter, is an independent contractor, and usually determines that they are an employee, and as such you should withold, and may have other obligations under state law.) If you pay your after school, or even Saturday night, sitter more than the threshold (~$600 in a year) and they are not incorporated — you need to provide them with a Form 1099 and provide a copy to the IRS. Thus, the HF is rolling the dice if they don’t comply with the law.

Could a weighing of the foregoing lead to the rational conclusion that it is worth the risk to employ previous APs as childcare providers whilst they are on tourist visas? Perhaps. But to assert that it is legal is simply incorrect.

momto2 June 6, 2011 at 9:42 am

If the former au pair returns to the U.S. on a visitor visa (B1/B2), they are not permitted to earn income in the United States, or be otherwise “gainfully employed,” per Department of State.

Chev June 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm

I don’t think it’s super illegal. You can ‘gift’ up to $15000 a year before taxes become a concern.
I’m here on a visitors visa staying with a friend and helping her out with the kids/housework like an AP does. The kids are in full day care so i just help out with mornings/nights/and some weekends. It’s cheaper for her than paying the agency fees – $2000 for flights, insurance and visa instead of the $7000 the agency she used to be with charges.
I get gifted with money and she supports me while i stay and visit places i didn’t get time to see or really loved and want to visit again before i go back home.

Steff June 13, 2011 at 4:53 pm

my two cents…I just don’t think there is such thing as “super illegal” or “a little illegal” or anything of that sort— or well it is legal or it is not. Like when you are pregnant, you can’t be a ‘little’ pregnant, you are or you’re not ;)
Okay so you’re calling your stipend a “gift” this time around—it’s still a money income a person in a tourist / visitors Visa shouldn’t get and yet you are. I bet this is done more times than one will think, but despite the name you give it, it is still technically illegal imo.

Despite not being my case at all, I just wish then there weren’t a double standard between *some* hostfamily’s “arranging” the truth, and *some* APs doing the same {i.e. while in applications making of their experience more than in reality it is} – I think it’s a norm we are always ‘expecting’ others to be truthful to us in most senses, and yet sometimes you are willing to make a ‘situation’ work despite it being borderline illegal :| Sure, it’s great, you’re saving money and getting a great care for your kids from people you already know and trust, and maybe even the AP looves the arrangement, but I still think there should be more to it….bottom line is just something that it’s not technically permitted {as it is not lying in your AP application…but oh well…people still does it everyday so what are you gonna do……

hOstCDmom June 13, 2011 at 6:15 pm

The unified gift tax exemption for non-resident aliens is $0. ZERO.
(and the annual gift tax exemption to US citizens or resident alients is $13k, not $15k)

Au pair who is visiting you is a non-resident alien. If you give your visiting au pair a gift, you, the HP, must pay gift tax on it. Gift tax rate in 2011 is 35%. (To wit — same situation if you are a US citizen and you give a gift to your non-resident alien spouse — you have to pay gift tax on it even though you are married. No exepmtion to the gift tax for non-resident alien spouses…no exemption to gift tax for non-resident alien APs)

But that point it moot, because if you are giving the money for services rendered, it is NOT a gift. IRS very clearly defines gifts. Paying your former AP to look after your kids, even if you “call” it a gift, doesn’t make it a gift.

You can come up with any theory you like to make yourself feel better about it, but paying your former AP, who is in the US on a tourist visa, to provide childcare is not legal. It’s illegal and it’s a risk – albeit perhaps not a large one — but you may be asked about it one day (job interview, government job, IRS audit) and that is when it will really matter— and the real question will be will you lie again to cover your tracks….

hOstCDmom June 13, 2011 at 6:36 pm

This seemingly “small” tax violation/breaking of the law may indeed be small, and of relatively little consequence to the au pair; but depending on the HP, and their financial, professional and tax situation, it could be a BIG deal for the HP, and the downside could be HUGE for the HP (depending on their specific situation). It is really the US citizen, US taxpayer HP who should be weighing the risk here.

Taking a Computer Lunch June 4, 2011 at 6:48 am

I’ll play Devil’s advocate here. Your AP was great, she did a fantastic job. And yet, two years later she has not moved on with her life enough to do something different. Is she a drifter, or is the economy in her country just plain miserable?

And so she returns and she thinks she knows your kids, but they are different. They are older. They have different needs and require new challenges. Is she up to the task, or is she falling into it because it is familiar and easy?

I hosted an AP for 3 1/2 years because I thought it was the best thing for my family. For 3 years it was great – but then things changed. While she was fantastic with infants and toddlers, she was lousy with preschoolers. She fed and dressed my then 4-year-old “because it was easier.” Sure – easier than getting him up on time. Sure – easier than standing over him so he could stay on task. Her argument with me about feeding him was that she got him to eat more than I did. However, he had just had a weight check and he was a little on the heavy side. He didn’t need someone to feed him – he needed someone to check that he ate enough nutritious food. And so, AP #2 was a breath of fresh air. Miraculously, the 4-year-old learned to dress and feed himself within a week.

So, before you match with this familiar, previous AP, seriously ask yourself – what makes her so desirable? Is it a return to the familiar? Is it knowing that the training period will be less intense? Is it because you know she will do an outstanding job?

I’d also think about her reasons for returning? Is there a man in the picture? Is it because she hasn’t figured out what to do with the rest of her life?

I’m not saying to not do it – just think long and hard about it.

NY-AuPair June 4, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I have read this blog for a couple of year, but this is the first time I am leaving a comment. I am going to be a repeat aupair starting this summer.

I was an aupair in New York for a year with a wonderful family, and for the last three years I have regrettet that I didn’t extend! I have been back almost every six months to visit them, work for them, or they have invited me to go on vacation with them. We skype as often as we can, and everytime both the parents and the three children wonder when I am comming back to stay with them..

I have carefully concidered the pros and cons. I have talked honestly with the HostMom about our expectation for the next year. I told her that since I am done with college now and I am at a different stage in my life then I was the first time, I am afraid stagnation! She told me that her biggest concerned was that I would expect it to be just as it was. I know this year won’t be the same, but that doesn’t mean it will be worse! (:
As long as the HostFamily and I are honest with eachother I think this year will be just as great as the first one, and all the times I have visited.

Since they really want me to come back we have been brainstorming ideas together about the comming year: She offered to find me some kind of volunteerwork/internship, when the kids are in school, that will benefit my career. In that way I won’t feel like I have stagnated. I have assured HM that I know this year will be a whole other experience, especially with the children being older and that I don’t have the same AuPair-friends, so we will both do our best to make this a succesful repeat.

I feel this is a win-win situation; I will get to spend more time abroad with that family, while doing something that will benefit my career, and they will have someone familiar back who they also love, trust and already know will do a good job. (:

OhPleaseNotCaliforniaOrFlorida June 5, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Regret, that is exactly why I am an repeat au pair now. I spent a year as an au pair in Virginia and ever since I came back home I regreted not having stayed for a second year very much. I am living with a different host family now, in California.
I don’t care if other people think that being an au pair again is a huge step backwards. Regret is something that I really don’t want in my life at all. I don’t want to look back in many years from now and say “If only I had done this…”.

Somewhere over the rainbow June 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I second that :)

kat June 10, 2011 at 3:29 pm

i agree with some other returnee aps above. some of us get a travel bug and spend so much time wanting to go back to the country they grew to love and have time to do things they missed before etc. its like a magnet ;)
i have only ever worked in europe and since my country joined the eu my comebacks are pretty easy and i am grateful for that. i think the fact that america is so far away makes it difficult to cope with all the feelings of ‘homesickness’. i am generally a person who doesnt take changes, or rather some of them, very easily. i mean things that kind of mean something is over forever, like finishing school or college or moving houses. i need the chance to go back and that puts my mind to rest kind of. i was very homesick after i came back from my ap year in the uk and i only managed to completely close that chapter in my life after a week’s visit with the family and another summer working in the area /doing something else/.
anotehr thing to bear in mind – if this particular ap wants to work in childcare, then it is surely useful experience for her. three years with the same family wuld be valued in the uk if she wanted to work as a nanny over there. also the hours aps work in the us are considered a full time nanny job in the uk, aps only work 25 -35 hours a week there.

kat June 10, 2011 at 3:33 pm

i forgot to mention that i was lucky enough to go back to one of my summer jobs / i am a full time student at home/ and spent three lovely summers with my family that has become like my own family. i was a bit worried the first time i went back but never looked back and we just enjoyed our time together. it might have helped though, that i am now older than a typical aupair /and am not called an aupair anymore anyway/ and had had lots of experience when i started with this family.

sthephanie June 28, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Hello! mi name is sthephanie, I’m an Au pair I worked in columbus, WI. I’m in rematch because the family needed more than 45 hours therefore more days. I’m able to work with another family I have all my documents right in the U.S.A. I have experience with under 2 years old, newborns twins and I’m able to drive!!!.

I’ll be glad that you get in touch with me to have the chance to share with you, I am willing to take your calling any time!!!

Contact information:

Name: Sthephanie Chara Trujillo
Current agency: Au Pair Care

Newhostmom June 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm

So is there any legal way to have a former AP come back just for a summer?

HRHM June 29, 2011 at 10:36 am

No, unless she is just coming to visit you and you are not compensating her financially. Then she could get a tourist visa.

VA aupair August 5, 2011 at 10:12 pm

well my friend from mexico was an au pair from 2006 to 2007 with a host family leaving in va. She went back to mexico and started and finished her university, she came ack as an au pair for the same family but with another company 4 years later, but this time she did not extend. The experience was great for her and for her host family and even they are going with her to mexico for vacations with her.

luckiest au pair ever September 13, 2011 at 9:26 am

Hi, I am about to extend just for 9 months, I love everything in here but I have to go back to my country and start college. I am changing family because they are moving from USA to Italy due to job issues. However we are going to keep in touch with my current family, they are great. I am going to be the first au pair for my next family and the live in Colorado (a beautiful state) I am currently living in Virginia. My question is even If I extend just nine months will I have the 2 weeks for vacations or I will have to wait until the end of my second year?.. I dont really care about that I am just not sure about that. Thank you for your help

ReturningAP November 14, 2011 at 2:48 am

I’ve been an AP in the US and I had two very successful years with the same family. I’ve also come back to visit several times (a total of half a year within the last two years), and it might sound like a cliché but they have really become my second family – I love them all to bits and the love is truly returned. We’ve now decided that I’ll be returning for another year or two. My intention is NOT to find a guy, get married etc. That’s just not in my interest. I just believe I’m still young and should treasure this time of my life doing something I think is fun, I would regret not going while I still have the chance. There’s so much more of your beautiful country to see, and to celebrate Holidays, learn more about the culture, travel, improve my English etc.

But what it really comes down to is that I love the family, I want to take the chance and be with the kids another year while I still have the chance – I’m young enough to travel on the J-1 and be a part of an Au pair program.

My intention has therefor never been to meet someone or to “find a way” to stay in the country. During my years at home I’ve been attending university, so I have a degree and something to return to.

I’ll let you know how it works out :)

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