What If Only One Host Parent is a U.S. Citizen?

by cv harquail on February 28, 2017

Here’s one of those “finer points” of the Host Parenting situation where we need some of you Agency experts to weigh in.

passport-and-visa-600x400The US State Department (not the Au Pair Agencies themselves) “(1) Require that the host parents are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents”.

What happens when one parent IS a citizen but the other parent is not?

It seems like there ought to be a way for this potential Host Mom to work around the issue of Host Parent citizenship. After all, if a single parent who is a US citizen can qualify to host an Au Pair, can’t a family with a single Host Parent citizen and another adult also qualify?

Dear AuPairMom —

We’re sold on the idea of having an au pair and had been very excited to apply. We have two young kids that have had nannies in previous countries that we have lived in and were hoping to find an au pair from my husband’s home country (in Europe so that our two children would be able to continue practicing that (European) language with another person.

As I was signing up with agencies, I read the finer print that states both parents must be US citizens or green card holders. I am a US citizen but my husband is living in the US on a two-year work visa. His visa will be valid for longer than the period that we were planning on having the au pair but it is not a permanent resident visa.

I’m very disappointed that it sounds like we won’t be able to get an au pair, particularly as my ability to do the type of work I do depends on having flexible child care.

Do you have any suggestions or recommendations?

Some friends have suggested that I apply without my husband as a “single parent” but that just feels completely wrong and dishonest.

Part of the attraction in matching for someone would be that my husband is also from that country and we are very interested in a multi-cultural household that celebrates the two cultures.

What advice do you Agency experts have?


NoVA Twin Mom March 1, 2017 at 11:18 am

I have nothing substantive to add, but would recommend contacting multiple au pair companies to see how they read the regulation. It may be that one would accept you as a host family, while another would read the regulation differently and not accept you. Even if one of our group is similarly situated, staff turnover at the various agencies might result in you getting a different answer than they did.

While talking to agencies and interviewing I recommend emphasizing the “American-ness” of your family, as one concern may be the opportunity for the au pair to experience cultural exchange while in your home. Don’t say you’ll do things that you won’t be willing to follow through with, but make clear that the au pair can expect to (hopefully) experience American culture as well as share her own with you and your kids.

Julie Dye March 1, 2017 at 1:19 pm

LCC and 9 time host mom here. The State Department requires host families “Be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents fluent in spoken English.” The State Department is clear that this applies to BOTH parents. Agencies are absolutely required to meet these regulations and our ability to be granted visas and continue as a sponsor is dependent our our compliance to those regulations.

I would also highly recommend that you do not lie on your application about being a single mom. Even if you were to carry that lie through and have your husband absent for the host family interview and tour of the home, once your au pair arrived, the agency would discover that your husband is living in your home and would pull you from the program.

There are many people who wish that the program was open to families with one or two parents here on work visas. However, that is clearly not permissible under State Department regulation and a change is not likely in the near future.

I’m sorry the US au pair program is not available to you and wish you much luck with alternative childcare!

2 kids and a cat March 1, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Talking about visas, residency and citizenship is a loaded issue right now, but the AP program is supported by the US State Department as a cultural exchange with US families. It makes sense that the visa sponsor -for this particular program – must hold citizenship. I imagine that the regulation is to prevent people from sponsoring family members or a facet of human trafficking through visa abuse. Agencies would risk losing support of the State department if they tried to circumvent this rule.
(We’ve looked into hosting a mother’s helper from a country not recruited by AP agencies, and it’s hard to do on the up and up unless you just happen to know someone who wants to come on a tourist visa and stay with you gratis-gratis.)

TexasHM March 1, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Yep I knew someone that had this same issue and because it was a Department of State requirement (IE – not negotiable or translatable by the agencies so will not vary just like the 45 hours a week maximum rule will not vary agency to agency) there was nothing they could do to qualify to host an AP (unless husband too became a citizen).

WestMom March 1, 2017 at 11:37 pm

I am an immigrant myself married to an American and was naturalized 10 years ago. We started the AP program 8 years ago so we never had to deal with that issue (although my LCC did ask when she came to visit to make sure we were both citizens/Permanent residents).

I know you are not asking for visa advice, but as a US citizen… is there a reason why you are not requesting a green card for your spouse? Turn around time is about 6-12 months, and then you can get an au pair next year.

Annie March 2, 2017 at 9:45 am

Could you try to bring a nanny in from your husband’s country on an H-2B visa? Could you argue that teaching the kids their second language is reason enough to have a nanny from that country?

NotYetHM March 2, 2017 at 11:20 am

Hi everyone,
Thanks for all of your comments and feedback. I was pretty sure it would not be possible to get an AP this year but wanted to see if anyone had had experience or knew of a way to do it. It’s just frustrating, as a US citizen, to not be able to host an AP when a single mom can, although I understand all of the arguments about the State department requirements, possible trafficking concerns, bringing in relatives this way. I saw the AP program as the most legal way to bring in someone to help with our kids (versus bringing in someone on a tourist visa and having them live with us) and have a nice cultural exchange and am disappointed we won’t be able to do it.

Yes, we have considered applying for a green card and likely will. The processing times are very slow right now and it won’t help us to get an AP for this year but might for a future year.

Thanks again for all of your comments and thoughts. Any advice is welcome on how to find a similar arrangement.

Jessi March 4, 2017 at 8:28 pm

Hi there,

there are other ways if your spouse doesn’t hold a green card. I am a nanny who found my way to America via a B1 visa. The lady I work for couldn’t get me in on a J1 as she doesn’t have a green card. Her argument for hiring out of country is that she will move back to her original country in a few years and wants the kids development supported. She had to show she has hired a nanny before, and i had to show proof that I had been a nanny previously too. Hope this helps!

LuckyHM#3 March 4, 2017 at 8:38 pm

@Jessi – as far as I know, a b1 visa is a business visa for specific purposes which means in my opinion that you are not supposed to be working. Not sure how that can work but I’m definitely curious.

Jessi March 5, 2017 at 2:14 pm

Hi, yes it normally is! Because of our unique situation (my boss is on a visa, we are the same nationality, she has hired a nanny before and I have been a nanny 12months +) we qualify for the special rules of the B1. I had the same reaction when I first looked at the B1 as the rules on the internet clearly state nope, but the American immigration lawyers sent me a special list of exemptions that I qualify under. On my visa it clearly states that I am a ‘domestic employee for x family’.

I turned up to the US consulate in London to apply for the Visa and all the paperwork including my contract and affidavits clearly stated that i was coming to the US to be a nanny, and they granted me a visa with this knowledge.


WestMom March 5, 2017 at 9:44 am

Not Yet HM, I am wondering- You should inquire with the agencies if they would accept you as a 1 citizen + 1 green card applicant (once you receive your confirmation). Considering the processing time, maybe they would be more lenient if the application is in process. Getting the application going is really not that long. Good luck!

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