TexasHM came across an interesting fact about extension application fees — it turns out, not all agencies automatically make these fees the responsibility of the Host Family.
Depending on the practices of your particular Au Pair Agency, your family might choose to pay the fee yourself, split it with your Au Pair, or even have your extending Au Pair pay it herself or himself. There’s even another option– have your Au Pair put the extension fee ‘in escrow’, to be earned back once s/he successfully completes the extension.
Another Host Mom (with CCAP) told me that her extension paperwork “recommended” that the Host Family cover the cost of extension app fees (usually $365ish), it’s not required that the Host Family pay it themselves. This Host Mom and several others have had their Au Pairs pay the fee themselves.
At first I thought this seemed unfair — and then, after I thought about it longer, I began to wonder if it isn’t genius.
Here’s my reasoning:
1. Paying the extension application fee would be an important indication that the Au Pair is truly serious about extending. (That sum is almost two weeks of stipend– a lot of money for an Au Pair.)
Having Au Pairs pay the extension application fee also makes sense because Au Pairs pay agency fees and insurance to come to the US for their first year. Why would they not expect to pay agency fees and insurance for year 2? Being asked to pay the fee might help Au Pairs decide that they really aren’t totally interested in extending– doing themselves and their Host Families a favor.
2. If Au Pairs paid $365 to extend they might be more motivated to stick it out. They’d have some skin in the game.
3. If for some reason things went south during the extension, the Host Family would not lose this nonrefundable fee themselves. (We had two extensions finish early for a wedding and a burnout/family emergency, and got stuck with the costs).
4. Having the Au Pair pay the extension application fee would allow the Host Family the option of paying it back to the Au Pair at the completion of a successful extension. This would work like the “bonus” (aka ‘completion payment’) that some agencies used to use to encourage completion.
This would be either automatic (upon completion) or at the discretion of the Host Family. If the au pair was just barely holding things together the last month, they might not earn it all back. On the other hand, for a stellar Au Pair, that money could come back to them to help them pay taxes, ship a box, pay luggage fees, throw a party, or manage any number of last minute expenses right before they go.
So many Host Families have stories about Au Pairs extending… and then seeing a rapid decline in their commitment to their work, or having a family emergency back home, or going into rematch … all of which left the Host Family losing out on their rematch application fee along with all the other related disappointments.
What do Host Parents and Au Pairs think of this idea?
Let’s take a poll: