Sometimes no matter how many different sources we check, we don’t get enough information to make international travel with our au pairs go without a hitch.
JamaicaMom sent this story, and wonders if there was some stone she left unturned, some box she failed to check, some egg that failed to hatch, some colloqualisim that translated imperfectly, that held the whole family in Jamaica until their au pair could clear Customs and come home together.
We recently returned from a trip to the Caribbean and were traveling with our au pair, who is from eastern Europe. We did everything our agency told us to do, and followed all the advice I read on this blog about traveling with an au pair:
1. She had a current passport that was not expiring anytime soon
2. We got her a visa for the country we were visiting
3. We contacted the airline and told them we were traveling with our au pair and asked if there was any special documentation she needed to travel with in order to re-enter the U.S.
Our trip was to the Bahamas, which is one of about five countries in the world where you go through U.S. immigration/customs at their airport when you are returning home. Typically, you go through customs when you arrive on U.S. soil.
When it was our turn to be interviewed by the U.S. customs officer he asked us to produce her ORIGINAL “certificate of eligibility for exchange visitor (J-1) status”. This is a white piece of paper that this issued by the U.S. department of state. We DID NOT have the original, or even a copy.
While we were allowed to pass through customs and return home our au pair was detained. We decided to stay with her and work to resolve the issue so she could return to the U.S. This was very scary for us and for our au pair.
I just wanted to inform everyone traveling with their au pairs out of the country that in order to gain entry back into the U.S. you must travel with this paper and it must be the original. Just in case – like us – you didn’t know that.
See also: Tip: Insist on the Second-To-Last bus
How risky is it to travel when her J-1 Visa is soon to expire?
It’s YOUR vacation, not hers. Okay?
lovely baby photo by mamaloco on Flickr