So you converted that extra room in your house to a guest bedroom only to see it collect dust. Instead of waiting for your family to visit once a year, you might consider putting the room to good use by becoming a host family in the au pair program administered by the U.S. State Department and other private agencies.
The au pair program allows men and women from the ages of 18 to 26 who hold secondary school degrees from other countries to come to the United States on a J-1 visa. The au pairs may stay in the United States for 12 months, with extensions possible for the maximum of an additional 12 months. Candidates for the au pair program are screened for background and personality checks to ensure they are a good fit for the program.
The au pair program not only provides benefits to the au pairs, but also to the families they are staying with. To qualify as a host family, one spouse or partner must be a U.S. citizen, be fluent in English, and have the financial capabilities to host an au pair. The au pairs provide childcare to their host families for a maximum of 10 hours a day and 45 hours a week, in exchange for compensation of $195.75 per week and the family paying up to $500 per year for the au pair’s college-level education in the United States. Additionally, the families provide the au pairs with room and board and are encouraged to involve the au pairs in family activities to enhance their cultural experience while they are in the United States.
Like most immigration programs, there are various rules and qualifications that both the host family and the au pair need to meet in order to be eligible for the program. These qualifications and rules include background investigations, issues regarding compensation, time off, and the providing of essentials to the au pair. An experienced Florida immigration lawyer can help guide potential families or prospective au pairs through the qualification process and help you put that guest bedroom to good use by helping you host an au pair and giving him or her the opportunity for a life-changing experience.