Many a host parent has wished to keep a great au pair forever and ever– or at least longer than the legal year plus year extension.
Why not? Several reasons.
1. We don’t want to do something illegal. Sponsoring a student and having her work for you is illegal.
2. There is no support/protection for au pair or family.
3. To be a sponsor for a student visa you have to show you have $25,000 in cash and sign an affidavit with the US government stating that you swear you will use this money to pay the student’s tuition/room/board etc if for ANY reason they can’t pay and you must pay for them to finish the term. So if a girl enrolls and gets sick or quits going you pay for everything until next semester break.
4. Because we need a caregiver for 45 hours per week and there is NO WAY an au pair could take a full time course load and au pair full time and be successful.
I just had AP#1 (married an American and now in school part time) come back and tell me I was right on this. She’s a part time nanny and part time student and really struggling. It would be selfish of us and taking advantage to set a girl up to fail like this. The families I know that have done this had older kids and only needed help 20ish hours per week. One of those APs told me its still hard and she has no social life.
5. What kind of example does that set for my kids? It’s ok to break laws you don’t want to follow? My oldest doesn’t miss anything, not a conversation I want to have.
6. I have to do what is best for my family and putting them at risk (legally, financially, emotionally) is not worth even the advantage of more time with an awesome au pair.
I would love nothing more than to keep our current au pair forever, but if we’d done that with our first our current wouldn’t be here now! We feel a moral obligation to follow the law and give another girl the opportunity. Ok, off my soapbox!
From Au pair with two awesome kids:
Thanks for the insight. I have had a couple of AP’s I would love to have helped stay here. I hadn’t realized how big a commitment it would be.
And here’s TACL with her experience:
I think it depends on the person, whether it seems like the right thing to sponsor her.
AP #1 successfully negotiated working full-time and attending college full-time because that was what she had been doing in her native country. In some ways she had it easier with us: 1) because she could study while the kids napped and 2) she wasn’t paying for housing, utilities, or transportation (so while she was making less money than she would have had at home, the money she earned was “hers” – I put that in quotation marks because I know she sent a fair amount home to support her family).
We attempted to sponsor our 1st AP (PICU nurse) because she wanted to stay and she was fantastic with our kids (who were both enrolled in early intervention at the time – child #2 having had bacterial meningitis as an infant and The Camel being the The Camel). We were fortunate because we had a lawyer who did the work pro bono because of our situation. While we were waiting for the Dept. of Labor to review her application (she was gone 3 1/2 years later before her application rose to the top of their pile), we put her on a student visa. This was in 2001, and I don’t recall having to prove that we had $25,000.
However, the first year we had her on a student visa nearly broke us. The community college considered her a foreign student for the first year (remember – now she wasn’t an AP), and it cost us over $23,000 in tuition alone. We continued paying her Extraordinnaire stipend (then $205 a week). We were broke. That first year was much more expensive than hosting a new AP. Was it worth it? Absolutely, The Camel was extremely medically fragile at the time – having a PICU nurse familiar with her care was extremely beneficial to us. When The Camel was hospitalized for 4 weeks, she was essential.
For the years following, the community college charged in-county tuition, which was considerably cheaper than hosting a new AP. She did leave us three weeks earlier than intended – our relationship broke down over monetary and trust issues (not her – her silly friends). We stayed on the books as her sponsor for a couple of years afterwards, but offered no monetary support. When she had amassed an amazing amount of community college credits (almost enough to graduate from a university), we severed the sponsorship.
Would I offer it to any other AP? Absolutely not. Now that my kids are school-aged, I don’t need the level of care that would offset the expense.
(I think this is TexasHM next):
In a way, you reinforced my original point – I wish there was a way for families to legally sponsor a visa, whether its a work visa or student visa I don’t care. The fact that you tried (with an attorney) to sponsor her for 3.5 yrs and her application still didn’t reach the top is a shame and my point!
As far as if one can work and go to school full time – again, this was referring to our particular situation. In college I took 18 hours and worked 2 jobs my last semester. Guess what? I lived and worked right next to the college campus and my jobs were at an attorneys office in the afternoons (desk job) and waiting tables night/weekends. I had zero social life and worked doubles every weekend. Was it possible? Yes. Was it fun? Absolutely not. And I did it for 4 months to graduate early, not for a year or years, again with NO commute and while I worked hard, my jobs were not as physically draining as my APs.
As far as the $25k, I just researched all of this in the last 6 months for our previous au pair (so she could use the info to get another sponsor), all the docs are online and explicitly clear (money must be in liquid form aka – checking, cant be investment accounts or other assets, etc). Things change all the time, maybe it’s changed again since then.
I meant no judgment, in fact I know families that currently “sponsor” their au pairs. None of my business. But, like anything else, I get frustrated when MY APs are told it’s really simple and that their host parents must be jerks if they won’t sponsor them by AP friends that have NO CLUE what the process entails. (cv added this emphasis)
I didn’t mean to start a rant tangent – apparently the issue still hits too close to home for me!
And here’s where I (cv) started to lose track of who was saying what….
I think it is different from state to state. Because we never had to show $25000. Only $15000. But as I already said, it has to work for both sides, and you both need to have benefits. For me, I get the education I always wanted, and my HF gets the Childcare giver they trust and love. It worked great so far the past years. Because it was worth for both of us. They got through the years while their kids are young with 1 au pair, and don’t have to get another one once I’m done, wich is a big advantage for them, since the older one has huge transition issues.
This is why I was hesitant to tread into this topic in the first place. APs and HFs DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH! It doesn’t vary state to state, visas do not vary state to state, they are national!
I literally researched this and TALKED TO DHS personally 4 months ago and was told $25k is what they are looking for as the proof of funds requirement. For the rest of you host parents that are curious what an affidavit of support to the US government looks like which is only step one of several in the process to do this (next being proof of funds), below is the link!
Check it out yourselves. Again, I wish there was a legal way to keep the girls longer that want to stay. I don’t see why they can’t transition onto a work visa with me as the employer or just extend the J-1.
RedBlu Au Pair wonders….
Texashm, you don’t have to fill that form out. The I-134. That is something different. What you would had to do is prove the college that you have the amount they want. Usually around $20000 for community colleges. Than they give you or better your au pair an I-20 you send this with your I-539 to the department. You have to show prove of the money the college wants, but that’s it. Believe me. I did it just like that and a lot of other au pairs I know, and we go our visa just fine. So I don’t know who told you that, but it is definitely not how it works.
And in jumps OpinionatedHM, with additional clarification…
Hi all, I had to chime in here because this confusion about sponsoring student visas caused a misunderstanding with our first AuPair who couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t sponsor her like another family was doing for her AuPair friend. We had alread extended with her and her time here was at a close.
When TexasHM says it’s illegal, that is because it is a violation of the student visa to work without approval by the INS.
If work is approved, it must be on campus or approval must be obtained to work off campus. the work can be no more than twenty hours per week. the work must be directly related to the degree being obtained. It’s possible that this criteria can be met (like in the case of TACL below) but unlikely in the case of many of these “converted J-1? visa situations where the sponsored student is expected to be a caregiver in exchange for sponsorship.
In fact, if you read about it, you will find that requiring work in exchange for sponsorship is expressly prohibited in the explanation of the visa requirements. I’ll try to find a link for you all.
BTW I explained all of this to our much loved AuPair and sent her the appropriate links to read for herself. We bid her a tearful goodbye a year ago. She is now in an international business program at home so she can get back here on her own terms as a business woman. (You go girl!)
This would be a great topic to have a full discussion on as there is obviously a lot of misinformation out there.
And more, in the comments below…