Au Pair in San Francisco


An au pair is in charge of taking care of the children and usually lives within the home of the family. The au pair is provided accommodation and meals and a stipend of spending money. The family gains a loving caretaker for their children and an addition to the family.

Working as an au pair has traditionally been less popular in the United States then in other countries, but is gaining credence as an efficient method of childcare. There are 11 agencies designated by the State Department to run the Au Pair Program. Both the host family and potential au pair typically pay these agencies an application fee and a program fee which varies from $4,990 to $6,955, depending on the agency used. Au pairs pay fees which vary depending on the US agency and the home country agency they use (if they do not apply directly to the US agency).

This job is often combined with an education requirement in which the au pair is required to complete 12 hours of academic credit. Au pairs placed with families who have children under 2 years old must have at least 200 hours of child care experience with infants under 2. Au pairs may only be placed in a family with an infant under 3 months old if a parent or other adult caregiver is also home and fully responsible for the infant.

The Au Pair Program is administered by the US Department of State. Au pairs enter the United States on a J-1 Visa. A typical 12-month program may have fees that resemble these from Au Pair USA:

Au Pair USA 12-Month Program Fees

Program Fees Amount Due Au Pair USA Services Covered
Application Fee
$250 With application Processing of the host family application and program approval
Deposit $2,500 Upon matching with an au pair Recruitment and screening of au pair, police clearance report, medical history, interview, matching and placement
Program Fee Balance $4,400* Upon the au pair's arrival or according to payment plan Au pair's visa, most of the au pair's round trip transportation, year-long support services of a local coordinator, a portion of the au pair's medical insurance and the au pair's training and orientation program

What the au pair must know

Basic application criteria vary from agency to agency, but there are a few typical requirements:

  • Speak and write conversational English
  • Be willing to share your culture and learn about others
  • Be willing to commit to 12 months in the U.S.
  • Agree to having a background check performed
  • Have at least 6 months childcare experience
  • Be able to provide 3 non-family local references regarding your experience and character
  • Possess a driver's license (or be ready to get one)
  • Be in good physical condition as evidenced by a Physician's Report
  • Pass a psycho-metric test given by the Agency

In addition to these requirements, it is common for families to ask for non-smoking, responsible or non-drinkers, and for females.

What the family has to do

The family has to welcome the au pair in thinking that she is not an employee but a home help for the children. Therefore they will make sure:

  • the au pair must have her own bedroom,
  • the au pair will work to a maximum of 25-35 hours per week She should have minimum 2 days off during the week (make available the au-pair's agreed free time and days off ),
  • they understand that having an au pair doesn't mean someone who is going to do the housework, the dishes....etc. However au pairs may be asked to do some housework, especially related to the children,
  • the family pay an allowance (pocket money) each week (usually about $60 per week),
  • it may be good to register the au pair at the family doctor. She must also be registered on the house insurance.

Some addresses...

 The designated US agencies are:

Update 2/01/2009


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Legal US Agencies
There are now ten legal US agencies, not six. For a current list go to the US State Department website or click on this link.

The first new agency granted admission into the program after several years without any changes was, shortly thereafter three more were granted status. I looked at all of the agencies and compared the rates, Aupair in America has the highest rates and US Aupair has the lowest. They all provide pretty similar services (round trip air for the aupair, health insurance etc.)



Au pair visas
USA has an official au pair program that is run by six government designated agencies. Agencies provide the documents that are needed for a J-1 visa. Au pair applies for a J-1 visa at the US embassy or consulate.
This visa is valid for 1 year.

If you need to find an au pair or an au pair job anywhere in the world or need more information, visit

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