Visa Questions for Extension Au Pair Who Wants to Travel Home

by cv harquail on September 8, 2016

Readers, here’s a topic where I’m in the dark. Have any of you experienced this issue and found a solution?

au pair visa questionsWe have a fabulous au pair and are looking to extend her for another year. Her visa expires in October.

We are essentially getting no help from our agency about how to extend her.   

We had originally planned (and already booked her a ticket home) for December to spend holidays with family and renew her visa (she started in January).  I thought that, with this timing, we would be good – but it turns out her visa expired earlier than we’d realized.

Any advice?


Sleepytime September 8, 2016 at 8:43 am

None except that no matter what she should complete her visit home one month prior to her extension date – so even if her first year was up in January 15, she should be back in US by dec 15, no matter when the visa expires. But I don’t know what to do with a visa that expires in October- seems unusual?

DC Twin Mom September 8, 2016 at 11:14 am

How does her visa expire in October? Did you get her in a rematch? When did she arrive in the US? Take a look at the visa in her passport- it should explain much of it.

SA_Au Pair September 8, 2016 at 11:22 am

I might be completely wrong, but I think that au pairs who are on extension cannot travel outside of the US (unless it’s to certain countries such as Canada and Mexico). The J1 visa on her passport would have expired (but she’ll still be allowed to remain in the US to au pair for however long the extension is for) and this means that if your au pair goes home she will not be allowed to reenter into the US. Perhaps your au pair could take a vacation to another state with a friend? It’s not the same as being with family but it’s better than nothing under the circumstances.

NoVA Twin Mom September 8, 2016 at 12:56 pm

She can’t re-enter the US *on the same visa.* If she goes home and gets a NEW visa, she can re-enter. The first comment recommended returning a month before the current visa’s expiration, which would help ensure that if for whatever reason she *couldn’t* get the new visa, she could still get into the US on her current visa.

If she was DENIED a second visa (rather than just not getting around to applying for another one while in her home country) she might have a problem reentering the US even if there was enough time left on her current visa, as she would be seen as likely to overstay her current visa.

This is generally more advisable for au pairs from countries where it is seen as relatively easy to get a visa to the US – au pairs from countries where it is seen as HARD to get a visa from the US should probably just stay put. An alternative would be to have a relative or two from home visit her here – not the same as going home, but maybe a “safer” route.

oranje_mama September 8, 2016 at 2:37 pm

We had an au pair return home for Christmas holidays before extending with us. Keep in mind that even with an “easy” country (like Germany), you need to allow sufficient time. She needs an appointment with the embassy or consulate (which can be made in advance of her return home). Then there is a lag time as the visa is approved/prepared, and then mailed (regular mail) to her. Our AP actually made an appointment for the day she arrived in Germany (she flew into Frankfurt and had an appointment at the consulate that very morning). To be safe, she scheduled the return flight for 3.5 weeks later. I think the visa actually arrived after 2.5 weeks. Keep in mind US embassies are closed for both US holidays and local holidays (of which there are several around the Christmas holidays). Hope this helps.

Runner Mom September 8, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Our German au pair recently renewed her visa on a visit home 2 months before her visa expired (she extended with us for a year). She made the appointment weeks ahead of time such that she had the appointment for the exact day she needed. She also needed to have completed all her extension paperwork with the agency and be “approved” for extension, and have the new 2019 in hand. Then she met with the consulate, was approved, and paid for them to expedite/overnight the new visa to her. Because of a mix-up with the 2019 from our agency, it turns out that it took a day or two longer than planned, but in the end it was only 4-5 business days between the appointment and her receiving the new visa (which meant also, her passport, since they take that to issue the new visa) by mail such that she could fly back to us.

WestMom September 8, 2016 at 5:45 pm

I am surprised your agency is not helping you with the extension. I thought all agencies sent a message to their APs at some point with details about extension. Your AP should have received that by now if her visa expires in October. They make a lot of money on extensions so I can’t really imagine why they would not want to help!

This might be a silly question, but why renew her visa? She will be fine to extend on her existing visa. The only drawback I can think of is not being able to travel overseas, which does not seem like a huge deal for only 12 months, no? If it’s question of seeing her family before extending, then maybe sending her now for a week would solve that problem… (or if all else fails, inviting her parents to come visit?).

hOstCDmom September 8, 2016 at 10:53 pm

I’m confused. How can an AP in the US have a J-1 visa that is for a period less than their contracted/matched period with the HF? J-1 Au Pair visas are for a year. They can be extended for another year. The visa in the passport isn’t altered, but there is accompanying paperwork that supports the extension. Rematch APs, with every agency I know of, can only rematch with a HF for the duration of their J-1 visa. Namely, “3 months with HF 1, rematch with HF 2 for 9 months”, etc.. So I don’t understand how an HF can have an AP whose match period end date is two months beyond the expiration of her visa?

AlwaysHopeful HM September 8, 2016 at 11:15 pm

I have a vague recollection of our first au pair’s visa expiring a couple of months earlier than her end date. I think it had to do with when she applied and it was granted vs. when she actually traveled. Maybe it depends on the country? Or maybe au pair received a visa to travel for one family, but ended up changing families and/or changing travel dates.

TNHostmom September 9, 2016 at 3:06 am

Unfortunately the answer is no. If she leaves the country and returns after a month before her J1 expires in her passport she will be refused entry UNLESS she does what oranje_mama suggested and she makes an appointment with her embassy ASAP to get a new visa while she’s back in her home country. Although if her stay back home is not longer than 2 weeks then I wouldn’t recommend this as around that time it’s highly likely it won’t come in time.

I know it’s not the answer I’m sure you and your AP both want but my advice would be for her to stay put in the US and give flying home a miss this year and an alternative if possible could be her family coming to visit instead.

I had an extension AP a couple of years ago who had a very tough (and long) time re-entering the US from Canada. Luckily it turned out OK!

Good luck!!

LuckyHM#3 September 9, 2016 at 11:51 am

What she’s trying to do is just renew her entry Visa stamp. There are 2 processes to getting a work/study visa – adjustment of status (when you are already in the US on another Visa. You will just get the visa document sent to you. You may or may not have a valid visa stamp to travel) or consular process (when you are outside the US and have to go to a US embassy to get your visa. Here you will need a visa stamp on your passport in addition to the Visa document). Her actual J1 visa is the DS document. The agency can help her extend her Visa here.. i.e. get her a new or extended DS docuFor a new Visa stamp, she needs to go to a US embassy typically her country but she can realistically go to any US embassy.. only thing is there are no embassies in the country.

She can make an appointment in a nearby US embassy. She can go to Canada or mexico or any of the islands closish to you with a US embassy if her country is too far. This is typically a 2 day event unless there’s some issue with your paperwork. If she’s set on travelling in Dec and her visa stamp expires in October, I would suggest getting an appointment asap now in Sept. Otherwise, she will be refused re-entry into the US. She has no valid visa entry stamp.

The agency helps you renew your visa document not your visa stamp. For that, it is your perogative to travel. You dont need a visa stamp to be legally in the country only a visa document

Old China Hand September 10, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Part of the misunderstanding here is that visas to the us have two parts – the part that lets you enter the country (your visa) and the part that lets you stay here (your status). So your status can be extended within the us but you can’t get a new visa. You must leave the country to get the new visa. This is quite common for students who extend to go to graduate school after getting a bachelors here. They are allowed to stay, but not leave and return. The same is true for the extension year in the ap program.

GermanAuPair September 17, 2016 at 7:29 pm

Just came back from an almost two week vacation im Germany. I extended with my hostfamily and decided to go home in my second month of the extention period, so my visa was already expired. On my first full day i went to the embassy ( i booked the appointment 3 months in advance to get the exact date i want!), it was super easy and my new visa was approved. After 2 business days i had my passport with a new visa back!

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