Q) How far ahead should I apply?
A) We recommend that you apply as soon as you have made the decision to participate. It's good to try to get your application finished about 3 months before you'd like to travel to America. On average, it takes roughly 4 weeks to complete an application from start to finish, including attending an interview.
Q) Can I apply if I do not have a full driving license?
A) We accept P-Plate drivers, as this is the equivalent of a full license in the US. If you are a Learner driver you can still begin your application, but you'll need to pass your driving test before participating on our program.
Q) How do I get my 200 hours of childcare experience?
A) There are lots of ways to gain your 200 hours experience with children.
- Babysitting (as long as the children are not family/relatives)
- Volunteering in youth groups, social clubs, children support groups, hospitals etc.
- Working or volunteering in a childcare centre or before/after school care
- Working or volunteering in holiday programs for children
- Sport coaching or assistant coaching
- Sunday school or church group leaders and assistants
- Scouts/Girl Guides group leaders and assistants
Q) Do I need to have completed Year 12 in order to apply?
A) We accept a school certificate or equivalent, which in some cases can be year 10 or a Tafe/Trade certificate. Each education certificate is different so it is best to contact us for a better analysis of your completed studies.
Q) How long will it take once I have had my interview?
A) This will depend on when you apply, when you are available to depart to the US and the overall strength of your application. Many au pairs receive calls shortly after they are accepted onto the program and typically au pairs with good quality applications are placed within 2 months
Q) What are my chances of being placed with a family and how long?
A) The time-frame varies for each applicant, however there are a few things you can do to speed up the process:
- List all your childcare experience and that it is clearly presented.
- Make sure your profile photo shows your face clearly and you are smiling.
- A great video showing off your friendly personality is a huge booster - we know the video is a nerve-wracking experience for most, but remember to smile!
- American families are also looking for au pairs who have good driving experience and good English language skills.
Q) What if I already know the family I would like to au pair for?
A) Yes, this is possible - we call it a "pre-match". Both you and the family must meet the requirements for the program. You should contact the Sydney office with information on the family. The family will need to apply through our US office and go through the normal screening process. You will still need to submit a full application and be interviewed.
Q) Can I choose where I will live?
A) Au pairs are placed in over 180 cluster areas all across the USA. Our aim is to find the host family that best suits you. Experience has shown that in order to have a successful and enjoyable year, the family you join is more important than their location. We recommend you stay open-minded and flexible with the location you are placed in. You'll still have plenty of opportunities to travel and experience the rest of the USA.
Q) What if I change my mind after applying?
A) No problem - just let us know and we can either remove your application or place you on hold until a future date.
Q) Is the Au Pair in America program expensive?
A) We are proud of our affordable program costs and only charge a minimal program fee to cover the costs involved in providing ongoing support for you, insurance, application processing, interviewing/screening, informational materials/handbooks and staffing.
The only up-front cost is an AU$100 deposit fee due prior to attending an interview. This fee is refundable if we are unable to find you a placement. The remaining program fee is not due until AFTER matching with a host family.
Q) What's included in the Au Pair in America program?
A) Au Pair in America provides participants with the following benefits:
- Free return flights to the USA*
- 3-day orientation training upon arrival in New York
- Training materials and handbooks
- Placement with a fully-screened American host family
- Private bedroom and all meals
- Weekly stipend (pocket money)
- 24/7 support from staff across the USA, the UK and Australia
- Medical insurance (upgrades available)
- Local community counselor to offer additional support
- Fun monthly events and meetings for your local au pair cluster group
- US$500 study allowance to take classes
- 2 weeks of paid vacation time
- 1 full travel month at the end of your placement (optional)
- Visa sponsorship and visa application assistance
- Au Pair in America t-shirt and other promotional materials
*Please note: Any participant who does not successfully complete their 12 month placement will be required to pay for their own flight to return home to Australia.
Q) Is it possible to Au Pair in America for less than 12 months?
A) The Au Pair in America program is a minimum 12 month commitment. If you are looking for a shorter duration, perhaps you may consider one of our other au pair programs such as the UK, Spain, France and China - all of which have a minimum 3 month commitment.
Q) Do I have to care for babies?
A) Many host families do have a child under 2 years old, so if you have the experience and willingness to care for babies then this will greatly increase your chances of finding a placement very quickly. Not all applicants are fully experienced or feel comfortable in looking after newborns or very young babies, so if this is the case, we would place you with a family that has older children.
Q) Can I talk to au pairs who have been to America?
A) Yes! One of our interviewers will be able to put you in touch with returned au pairs from your country. They will be happy to tell you all about their experiences. You could also consider attending an Au Pair in America event or read our blog page which is run by current and former au pairs: www.apiablog.com
Q) Will I have time off to travel/have fun/make friends etc.?
A) Yes! Au Pair in America is primarily a cultural exchange program, and we want you to make the most of your time and experience the American culture. Au pairs can work a maximum of 10 hours a day with a maximum of 45 hours in a week, and are entitled to at least 1.5 full days off per week, 1 full weekend off each month, 2 weeks of paid vacation time during the year, and 1 optional full travel month at the end of your stay (the 13th month). Use your time off to travel, make new friends, explore your local area, take a road trip, visit an amusement park or something else fun!
Q) How will I make friends/meet people?
A) All au pairs join a local 'cluster' which is a group of other Au Pair in America participants in your local area. Each cluster is managed by a local Community Counselor who plans monthly meetings and events for your cluster group to get together and participate in a fun activity such as movie nights, sporting events or cultural activities. Attending these meetings and events is expected of our au pairs, and is the easiest way to meet other au pairs and make lots of new friends.
Q) What if I am not compatible with my family?
A) Our aim is that both the au pair and host family have a happy, successful year. Should a conflict occur, the Community Counselor would assist to resolve any issues as quickly as possible. If it is an extreme situation then Au Pair in America may have to transfer you to another host family - this is called a 'rematch'.
Q) Can I come home if I am homesick?
A) When you arrive in America, it is natural to feel a bit homesick. You should be able to quickly overcome homesickness with the help of your host family, your Community Counsellor and your new Au Pair friends. If you really want to return home then you will forfeit your return flight and you may not be able to participate on another US J-1 Visa program in the future, so please think carefully about your decision to leave the program early.
Q) If I’ve already participated on a 12 month J-1 Au Pair program, can I re-apply for a second time?
A) Yes! We have a returnee program available, providing that you:
- Have successfully completed your first stay in America
- Have completed the educational component of the program
- Are able to provide a copy of your completion certificate or a copy of your J-1 Visa if you participated with a different au pair organization
- Have lived outside of the US for at least 2 years
If you would like to apply for another year in America, please click here to start.
Q) Can I return to the same family?
A) Yes, as long as you qualify as a ‘returnee Au Pair’ and your host family are happy to have you back again.