Some Au Pairs Have Arrived Under the National Interest Exception.
Success with Au Pair Arrival
Au Pairs have arrived from two countries since the J1 visa suspension began (representing over 100 Au Pairs available now), and three other countries have approved Au Pair J1 visas! We are closely monitoring the progress of Au Pairs applying in additional countries and encourage families to contact our office for the latest updates.
We are thrilled with the opportunity the National Interest Exception offers to families who depend on Au Pair child care to provide medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19, to research COVID-19, or to support a child who requires special care. Visa approval and travel into America remains ever-changing but we encourage qualifying families to pursue Au Pair arrival this year.
How to Qualify for Au Pair Arrival
We assist Host Families interested in pursuing the National Interest Exception through all three steps of the exceptional process leveraging our recent experience and success. Families are encouraged to speak with a representative from our office to confirm their qualifications under the National Interest Exception and to understand the current situation unique to the Au Pair’s home country for Embassy Interviews and travel to the U.S.
Step 1: Gather documentation that best explains your situation
Most likely, your Au Pair has one opportunity to present to the Consular Officer at the Embassy the details of your situation and reason for exemption. And, the Consular Officer is the only person who decides if the visa is granted. Securing the best documentation to explain your situation is critical and we are here to advise you on presenting the best information to secure a visa approval.
Families pursuing the exception for employment reasons have provided letters from employers detailing job title and responsibilities and confirmation of COVID-19 related medical care or research. Company-wide communications discussing the COVID-19 situation at the institution and anonymous patient information demonstrating COVID-19 diagnosis have also been successful at demonstrating the exception is met.
Families seeking Au Pair arrival for a child who requires special care have provided documents from medical experts describing the child’s medical issue and a personal letter from the host parents explaining the necessity of the Au Pair to provide care.
Families who join the Go Au Pair Community receive detailed instructions on what types of documents to include and what information should be included in each to best influence a successful outcome,
Step 2: Agree with your Au Pair
Both Family and Au Pair must mutually agree to pursue an Embassy Interview under the National Interest Exception. The Au Pair must thoroughly understand the supporting documentation gathered in the first step to ensure confidence and accuracy during the interview with the Consulate Officer.
Step 3: Prepare for the Embassy Interview
Our international partners around the world closely monitor the U.S. Embassies in their country. We regularly communicate and receive updates on embassy openings, interview appointments scheduled, interview appointments cancelled or delayed, visa approvals or denials, paperwork and administrative delays and anything else expected or unexpected happening related to obtaining a J1 Au Pair Visa. We work hard to manage family expectations on risks in obtaining a visa and around travel to the U.S. Families who join the Go Au Pair Community have access to updated information by country on the embassy and travel situations.
What is the National Interest Exception?
Section 3 of the Presidential Suspension states “the suspension…shall not apply to… any alien whose entry would be in the national interest as determined by the Secretary of State, he Secretary of Homeland Security, or their respective designees.”
On July 16, 2020 Go Au Pair was provided a copy of a communication from the U.S. Department of State to congressional offices regarding Bureau of Consular Affairs guidance clarifying National Interest Exception waivers to the various Presidential Proclamations. We currently understand the National Interest Exception to apply to Au Pairs in the following situations:
Childcare services provided for a child with medical issues as diagnosed by a qualified medical professional where the Au Pair possess special skills required to care for a child with a particular need (e.g. medical, special education, sign language).
Childcare services provided for a child whose parents are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19.
Childcare services provided for a child whose parents are involved with medical research at United States facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19.
Impacts of the Suspension
On June 22, 2020 the White House issued a proclamation temporarily suspending NEW J non-immigrant visas for Au Pairs until December 31, 2020. This proclamation is a continuation of proclamation 10014, issued on April 22, 2020.
The temporary suspension means NEW J visas will not be issued to Au Pairs during the suspension period, currently slated to start June 24, 2020 and expire on December 31, 2020. U.S. Embassies worldwide have suspended routine visa services in response to proclamation 10014.
The following Au Pairs are delayed in obtaining a visa:
- Applying and Available Au Pairs
- Au Pairs matched with families still in their home country without visas
The following Au Pairs are NOT impacted by the new suspension:
- Au Pairs matched with families still in their home country with approved visas
- Au Pairs currently in the U.S. either in their first year, extension period
- Au Pairs currently in the U.S. under a COVID-specific, one-time, exceptional extension period
- 60-day extension
- Second, 6-mo extension
Go Au Pair’s Perspective on the Suspsension
Go Au Pair and the entire cultural exchange community opposes the inclusion of J-1 Exchange Visitor Programs in the proclamation. We firmly believe in the value the Au Pair Program adds, not only to the U.S. economy through participant spending and enabling American Host Parents to work, but also through the invaluable relationships which positively influence Au Pairs, Parents and Children for the rest of their lives.
Although we cannot predict the future and everything is subject to change, there are a handful of positive possibilities for Au Pairs around the proclamation which will be explored in the upcoming weeks. First, there is a stated expiration date. Unlike the travel suspension proclamations which only accounted for time frames for review and continuation, this proclamation has a hard fast expiration date stated. Secondly, there are set time frames for review and recommendations for modifications (within 30 days of effective date, every 60 days thereafter). Thirdly, an exemption exists for anyone who is “necessary to facilitate the immediate and continued economic recovery of the United States” which may be broadly defined and is at the discretion of the Secretary of State, Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Homeland Security. Lastly, there are many opponents to the perspectives in the proclamation and legal actions are possible.
What can Host Families Do?
If you are saddened to see our amazing Au Pair program degraded by perspectives that say Au Pairs are a cheap labor program, here are ways you can make your voice heard:
- Sign the Change.org petition to Save J1 Programs
- Share your perspective on social media using hashtag #SaveJ1 to unify your voice with others who value the Au Pair Experience
- Contact the White House.
- You have 2,000 characters to state your opinion
- Contact your Congressman:
- Search by state: https://www.house.gov/representatives
- Search by zip code: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative
- Contact your Senator
- Locate by state: https://www.senate.gov/senators/index.htm
We encourage our American Host Families to express their opinions on how the Au Pair Program strengthens the U.S. economy and labor market, especially now, following the coronavirus outbreak.