Any New Advice About International Travel During an Au Pair’s Extension Year?

by cv harquail on March 2, 2017

There are some things I would never test.

—  Whether the rope bridge across the gorge could hold me.

— Whether that snake was was harmless.

19190121422_e25c2f7a68_mOr whether I could get my extension Au Pair back into the US after taking her with us on an international trip.

With Federal Agents inspecting documents of passengers deplaning in LA after just flying across the USA ,  even travel, with documents, that’s perfectly legal seems a little too risky.

In our current situation, with heightened attention (and animosity) towards non-citizens, and with Federal Agents both unclear about what to do and going overboard doing things they aren’t authorized to do (like unnecessarily detaining Mem Fox!) I’d recommend leaving your Au Pair in the U.S. of A. until you and s/he are sure they are ready to go.

Traveling Host Mom writes to check if there is any “updated” information about traveling abroad with an extension Au Pair:

I was wondering from the community if anyone has ever taken their Au Pair out of the country during the au pair’s 2nd year?

Here’s the specific situation:

We would like to travel to Mexico for spring break and take our Au pair with us, but since she’s in her extension year, her visa is expired. Although she does have the valid DS2019 extension form, I’m not sure that will be sufficient for her to gain admittance back into the US.

We have reached out to our agency (APIA) who only provided us a link to a page on their website — not helpful. The agency representative in my au pair’s home country (Brazil) advised her not to leave the US at all during her 2nd year.

Has anyone been through this RECENTLY i.e., in 2017?

Thank you in advance for your advice!


2 kids and a cat March 2, 2017 at 9:15 am

As it happens, I just called CCAP about this yesterday. Their response was that there have been problems and it is not recommended within 60 days from the end of her term.
Fun fact: travel is only allowed for a year from the signature on the DS2019, not the dates on the visa. In our case, our AP’s DS form was signed a month before her visa.
Keep in mind that if you do do this, it is likely that she will have to spend quite a bit of time in the immigration room so do not plan for a tight layover.
In this particular case, we also have a tense visa situation with Brazil, so I would especially not attempt your situation unless you are prepared to pay (literally) for any complications.

WestMom March 2, 2017 at 9:21 am

All I can say is that my relatives are in Canada and we travel there extensively. All of our Au Pairs come with us to Canada at least once, and some have joined us up to 3 times during their year.

When we had our Brazilian extension Au Pair, I was told Canada was ok to travel during extension year, but quite frankly, it was not even worth taking a chance for me. It was sad to leave AP behind during our usual between holiday pilgrimage up north, and for the week when we went to the Quebec carnival without her. She would have loved it and we missed her. But I have crossed the border many many times over the last 25 years and it only takes one douchehead at customs to make re-entry excruciating. Call me chicken, but I did not want to chance that or put AP in a stressful situation.

She was appreciative of the extra time off.

Chicago Host Mom April 4, 2017 at 3:02 am

I am curious which border crossing you use most frequently when you travel to Canada with au pairs.

ARLMom March 2, 2017 at 11:25 am

Our area director sent information out about this very question yesterday. Hopefully, you will find this useful—

• An extension au pair wishing to travel outside of the U.S. must either return to the U.S. while her/his current J-1 Visa is still valid or have her/his J-1 Visa renewed in her/ his home country before re-entering the USA. If you do not renew your J-1 visa, your options for international travel are limited.

• Revalidation for travel to Canada, Mexico, or Caribbean — With an expired J-1 visa, you are only allowed to travel to Canada, Mexico or the adjacent Caribbean islands (except Cuba)for a period of thirty days or less. Your Visa will be revalidated upon return.

The following conditions must apply in order for you to travel to these countries –
• You must have a print out of your I-94 with you.
• You must have your second year DS-2019 form that has been signed for travel by AuPairCare. Your DS-2019 form is valid for travel if you have a signature in box 7 and the Travel Validation by Responsible Officer box.
• Your passport must be valid for at least 6 more months on the day you return to the USA.
• You can travel only to one of the destinations named above and for fewer than thirty days. For example, you cannot use automatic revalidation to enter Canada, depart to another country, return to Canada, and then return to the U.S. within 30 days. Please follow link on AuPair Room for acceptable Islands adjacent to the Continental U.S.
• You must have your expired J-1 visa in your passport. If you lost your passport during your first year and had it replaced, you will not have the J-1 visa in that new passport and therefore cannot take advantage of travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean.
• You may take multiple trips to any of the acceptable countries under Automatic Revalidation.
• The decision to allow an au pair back into the U.S. is at the discretion of the immigration officer at the port of entry. AuPairCare cannot guarantee reentry into the United States and will not be responsible for any costs incurred due to reentry problems.

WCO HD March 2, 2017 at 12:12 pm

I don’t have any help with answering this specific question, but I do have a similar question to add to the mix. What about an au pair in her first year (and is not extending) that wants to travel to Canada but it will be only about 1 month before her last legal working day? Ours would like to visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls with us when we visit my family in NY in early June, but she is heading home in mid-July. Sound like something we should be wary of trying?

2 kids and a cat March 2, 2017 at 1:56 pm

We called about a similar situation, which is how I discovered that the DS2019 was signed a month before the end of the visa (see post above). There is typically a problem re-entering the country with fewer than 30 days left on the visa. With her 2019 signed so early, there’s no way for her to get back in the US from Canada. If she is extending, the calendar resets.

WCO HD March 2, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Thanks for the heads up! We will check the signature date on her DS2019, but it sounds like we should probably avoid the trip. That’s really unfortunate because Niagara Falls just isn’t even remotely the same experience from the American side.

WestMom March 2, 2017 at 4:33 pm

We have traveled with AP in her first year in her last month with us without a problem. Now, I can’t say for sure when her DS was signed, but she was basically a few days short of her last working days.

I would think that if AP can show proof of her ticket back to her home country, it would be pretty low risk, especially if she is from a low risk (i.e.- western europe).

WCO HD March 2, 2017 at 5:48 pm

In our case there is no airline ticket because we would drive across the border at Niagara Falls and she is from South Africa so low risk – but not as low as western Europe. Border crossings at the Falls can be hit or miss. Sometimes they want to see paperwork/passports from everyone in the car and sometimes you just get waived through. No way to know for sure though ahead of time.

WestMom March 2, 2017 at 8:13 pm

WCO, I meant her plane ticket to go back to South Africa. So they know she is already scheduled to go back home and is not intending to overstay her visa.

I travel to Canada by car every 6 weeks these days and they always always ask for passports for everyone in the car and scan each and every one of them. The days of waving us by are long gone.

WCO HD March 3, 2017 at 11:38 am

Thank you for the clarification. We’ll have to see if she has her plane ticket by then or not. I used to live near the Canadian border but it has been many many years. I should have assumed the waving on through never happened anymore!

ChiHostMom March 4, 2017 at 7:37 pm

Also South Africans require a visa to go to Canada. We couldn’t take ours on a trip there because of the lead time on that visa.

DCBurbTwinMomma March 3, 2017 at 6:50 am

As a mom who has provided legal assistance during our first days of the illegal travel ban, keep in mind that what is legal and what was and IS happening are two different things. Lawyers at airports saw people being detained without access to bathrooms or food for 10+ hours. Our legal research and outrage slowly made a difference, but it continues to this day. Citizens are being detained for hours, lawfully present residents are being given literacy tests and asked their religion etc. In reality, the non-brown and/or non-Muslim European au pairs will have less problems, but that does not mean I personally would suggest it. My Colombian au pair is now subject to random checks for just breathing in the U.S. while here legally. We have an action plan if she is questioned in the US while with the kids. Considering some of the pro bono work I’ve been doing lately, I would gauge whether you can afford a serious delay or deportation. HAVE A PLAN B. There are few appeals rights and Homeland Security/USCIS is not feeling any urgency to rectify is daily illegal actions. Keep in mind, in most cases, the au pair will not be able to call you, their embassy or legal counsel. We have advised ours to know her rights and to not sign revocation papers. It is a very common tactic now where USCIS has a detainee revoke his or her authority to be in the U.S. in exchange for release. Quite often the detainee is surprised to learn they just signed their way out of the US because they think it is just a routine paper to leave custody. We can do nothing with those who sign except wish them well in their home country and success on their appeal (which will most likely take more than a year.)

1) if your au pair has a Muslim name, expect delays and a 50-50 chance of not being allowed into the US.

2) if your au pair holds a passport from one of the previously banned locations, absolutely not. This is regardless if the au pair is a citizen of said country or not. Yes, the ban was found illegal, but again what is legal and what is happening are two different things.

3) if your au pair is non-Anglo to include Asian and African but most definitely Latin America, you have reasonable grounds to be very concerned.

4). Have a plan b if you think it’s worth it. Not everyone will be detained, but when Mem Fox (Australian elderly non-brown) and Mohammed Ali Jr (American citizen) can be detained for hours with impeccable documents, there is a risk.

Good luck. May you and your au pair encounter one of the remaining decent agents. There are those gleefully zealous to overstep the law knowing it’s open season on non-citizens and citizens who are brown.

ChicagoAttyHM March 3, 2017 at 2:45 pm

I also provided some legal assistance, and have kept abreast of my colleagues’ continued work, and I could not echo this more. “What’s legal” and “What is actually happening on the ground” are two very different things. I am aware of people with green cards being pressured to surrender their green cards. I personally would not bring my au pair out of the country right now, no matter what country he or she was from. I’m fairly confident a European would get in, but I would not want to take that risk unnecessarily.

WarmStateMomma March 8, 2017 at 8:07 am

Even Europeans are facing issues. I’m in a part time program at a UK university and we need to come to the US for a week for a travel-study component. A German guy in the class can’t come because the embassy won’t give him a visa interview in time (months long list) and won’t let him travel without a visa (he works for the UN and has visited a banned country). Classmates from Muslim countries not on the banned list have had their visas cancelled. Some Muslim classmates travelling on UK passports are not allowed in even though they have no connection to countries on the banned list.

The former prime minister of Norway was detained. The EU Ambassador to Libya was detained. The American-born NASA engineer was detained and his phone swiped (despite it containing confidential NASA data) and he had never been to a banned country. That 5yo Iranian-American child was detained for 5 hours.

“Getting in eventually” is not the same as getting in under normal conditions. I would not risk this, especially as you don’t want the AP stranded in Mexico on her own.

DMMom March 6, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Agh, this is dishartening to hear.Our Au Pairs have always looked forward to the spring break trip to Mexico with us. We just don’t know what to do. It is the middle of her first year so all papers are well within time limits, but she is Latin American. Though we will be traveling a heavy tourist route with our whole family….

I am curious has anyone heard what is happening with new arrival Au Pairs? Has there been difficulting entering the US in the last few month? or obtaining visas?

Taking a Computer Lunch March 7, 2017 at 10:02 pm

Over a decade ago (I know, I know, that was then, this is now), we matched with an upper middle class au pair from Brazil). Fortunately, her family had resources, so that when her initial visa was denied, we were able to write a letter of appeal as was our LCC (our first AP, from Brazil, never went home). The AP received her visa on appeal.

I don’t ever think this is an issue with European matches – in fact, over the 16 years we hosted APs, we have only extended with 2 Europeans. One went home three months before her visa expired to receive a 2nd visa so she could home for Christmas. Latin American au pairs may be subjected more rigorous review.

And I agree, all bets are off on what is the law vs practice. It is disheartening.

WarmStateMomma March 8, 2017 at 8:13 am

My AP arrived from China a few days after the ban took effect. She didn’t have a problem but I think they weren’t screening hard from China that week.

My family arrived into the US the day after the ban went into effect and we sailed through customs without any of the usual questions or screening. We didn’t know about the ban – we just thought customs became more efficient. In hindsight, I think they were just scrambling to deal with the new changes because it was back to business as usual in February.

FormerAPinBrazil March 10, 2017 at 8:54 pm

Hi DMMom,

I don’t think it would be an issue for your AP to go on a trip to Mexico with you, even in her extension year on an expired J1 visa as long as she has her DS form with her. Mexico and Canada have an auto-revalidation agreement with the U.S. so as long as the dates on their DS form are good, the AP should have no problem getting back into the U.S. I work at one of the big 3 AP agencies and this is what we tell APs all the time when they call in about this.

I wouldn’t advise that they visit any other country within 60 days of when their J1 visa expires. If they plan to renew, they should go to their home country to renew with 90 days left on their visa or more if possible.

Hopefully your future APs don’t have to skip spring break in Mexico!! Sounds amazing :)

HMof2 March 11, 2017 at 12:52 pm

Theoretically, according to the rules – yes, AP can go to Mexico and Canada in their extension year. I think the discussion here is contextual as it relates to the current climate with regards to the new US President and the uncertainty of official rules versus implementation of said rules in the field, given the flux in immigration policy.

FormerAPinBrazil March 14, 2017 at 7:34 pm

Oh yeah I was just pointing out the rule and actually as far as anecdotal evidence goes, I haven’t heard of any of our APs having any issues getting back into the U.S. from Mexico or Canada since the new administration took over.

Chicago Host Mom March 11, 2017 at 8:35 pm

Our AP is visiting her home country (Brazil) at the end of the month and has 2.5 months left on her J1. She is extending with us so going home for a visit before her second year. Fingers crossed. I will post an update after she travels. We are planning to go to Canada this summer and playing that by ear because she will only have a DS 2019. Although technically approved for reentry, I am thinking of calling our senators and reps before we depart to see if there is anything that they suggest or can do in the event of a snafu, as well as obtaining extra documentation to support her commitment to and participation in the AP program. We are contemplating having her apply for a new J1 from the US Embassy while in Toronto (she won’t have her credits or docs ready in time to do this when home this month), which would enable her to attend a family wedding at home later this year and travel more freely in Y2. If anyone has experience with an AP applying for a J1 visa as a third party national instead of in her home country, I would be interested in hearing about your experiences. We will see what the climate is like in July.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 12, 2017 at 8:59 pm

I don’t think she can interview in Canada – if you care enough check with an immigration lawyer (same with the family trip to Canada – lawyers will know much more than your Rep/Sen which way the wind is blowing). In my experience, only Europeans easily get a second visa. Our second Brazilian AP had to go to the embassy twice just to get a visa. On the agency’s recommendation, we sent a HF letter for her to take with, and the agency also sent a letter – on letterhead – to show support. Out of the 10 European APs we hosted, only one wanted to extend for a second year – and she easily received a second visa.

ChicagoHostMom March 12, 2017 at 10:05 pm

Thanks for your email. They can interview in Canada actually but it is pretty rare — after searching through AP sites, we have only found two girls who have tried it, but we did find one who did this successfully in the last 90 days. We have confirmed this with a law school classmate of mine who is an immigration lawyer and our counselor also confirmed this for us. We have had 10+ years of APs and we have successfully had other APs from Latin America (Central America) get new J1s before without any trouble, and both of our prior Brazilian au pairs had no problems getting their first visas, but this environment is a whole new ball of wax, unfortunately. I think there is no predicting anything anymore. Thanks for your idea to send her with the extra letters – a good idea that we will try!

we made it back March 12, 2017 at 11:17 am

For the good of the order, I’d like to report that we made it back over the Canadian border with a Western European AP (with about 6 months left on her visa). After what I’ve read, I would not attempt this within 60 days of her visa end-date. I’d take the $ I was going to spend to have her join us and let her travel in the US (or even just give her the time off. I would not want to have to spend $$$ to keep her in a hotel while it’s sorted out, or to have to buy her a plane ticket home. As I understand it, I’d be out childcare, CCAP fees, and the time and money to fix the problem.

Chicago Host Mom April 4, 2017 at 2:52 am

For the good of the order –
1. Our Brazilian au pair had no problems whatsoever getting in and out on her J1 with ds2019 from ORD to Brazil and back to ORD
2. Her German friend who is a Y2 AP had no problems crossing to Vancouver and back on her ds2019 w her expired J1.

Chicago Host Mom April 4, 2017 at 2:53 am

I forgot to mention she has only 60 days left on her J1

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