Your Au Pair Is Here...Now What?
Posted on March 01 2021
Since 2017, my family and I have happily welcomed three au pairs to join our household. Like most other host parents, we went through an agency to find our match(es). Our agency of choice, Go Au Pair, did a fantastic job walking us through the process--taking the time to answer every email and return every phone call. However, we found that once we were "matched", the contract was signed, and the au pair was on her way...that was it. And we felt a bit lost. What happens now? Agencies don't really tell you all that needs to happen after the au pair arrives. And let me tell you--there is A LOT that needs to happen in order for the au pair to get fully settled, living comfortably in the U.S.
When you--as a host parent--take the time out of your busy schedule to help your au pair check off each item on this extensive list, it establishes a bond and sets the relationship up for success!
Some au pairs come to the States with their own phone. If that's the case, they will only need a SIM card for their existing phone. If your au pair doesn't have a phone, make sure to purchase a reliable SMARTPHONE that's has capabilities to download helpful apps, such as WhatsApp (free international texts, calls) and GPS. This can incur significant upfront costs, but you will now have a phone that can be used by future au pairs. Just make sure you let your au pair know in advance that the phone comes with the position.
We have found that a prepaid phone plan works the best for our situation. We pay a set amount each month (usually the midgrade plan that provides plenty of data), and if she goes over in data, she is responsible for the overage charges. The downside to a prepaid plan is that you don't receive some of the deals (ex. free phone) due to the contract being month-to-month. But with a month-to-month contract, you can cancel anytime, and there is no penalty for doing so.
USPS CHANGE OF ADDRESS
If your au pair is in the rematch program (i.e. already in the States and transferring families), you will need to have him/her complete a change of address form with the United States Postal Service. Click for the USPS change of address online form.
SOCIAL SECURITY CARD
Because au pairs need a social security card for...well, basically everything...scheduling an appointment at your local social security office needs to be a top priority. That being said, you will want to wait approximately 10 days before going to the social security office. This will allow all government databases to update with the au pair's arrival schedule.
When you go to the Social Security office, your au pair will need:
- The au pair’s passport with the visa inside; this should include the I-94 stamp inside, which establishes the date of arrival
- DS-2019 form from your au pair agency
- Social Security application form SS-5; have this printed out and completed prior to your appointment
- It's helpful to get a Social Security letter from the au pair agency, which can be used in addition to the DS-2019 to establish immigration status
Call your insurance company and talk to them about what is required in order for your au pair to legally be insured while driving your car. Most states will require proof of insurance before the au pair can take the driving test.
Schedule an appointment at the DMV. These can usually be booked out a month into the future, so you may want to make this a priority. Before their appointment at the DMV, make sure he/she has all the right documents:
- A form of ID that has their name, picture, and date of birth on it (passport)
- A Social Security Number or a proof that one cannot be obtained
- Proof of lawful presence in the US (visa, permanent resident card, citizenship certification, etc.)
- Proof of residence in that state (USPS change of address, state ID, utility bill, bank statement, etc.)
- International Drivers Permit (IDP)
- Passport photo (in some cases this will be taken during the application process)
Provide your au pair with the link to the official DMV handbook for your specific state so that he/she can study before their test. Click for the 2021 Official DMV Handbook Drivers Manual.
You may want to research driving schools in your area. While expensive, we found this to be a very helpful tool and resource. Employing a good driver was a MUST in our situation, as the kids needed to be transported to/from school and activities.
Some requirements differ from state to state--particularly when it comes to those au pairs who come here with an IDP. For more information and details, we found this article to be extremely helpful: Getting a US Drivers License as a Foreigner
Take your au pair to set-up a checking account. It's helpful to the au pair if it's a national bank. That way, if they decide to travel, they will most likely be able to find a branch, if needed. Click for a list of the 10 Best National Banks in the US in 2021.
USEFUL APPS & TOOLS
Venmo - This allows you to pay the au pair quickly and efficiently. The money gets transferred from you checking account to their checking account by the click of a button.
Microsoft To Do - This is an online To Do/Task List. Multiple people can share a single list. For example, we have a household grocery list through Microsoft To Do. Anyone with the list can add to it, and it updates live.
Gmail Calendar - By creating a shared google calendar, everyone can stay on the same page in regards to schedules, appointments, holidays, vacations, extracurricular activities, etc.
- Add your au pair's name to any applicable memberships (i.e. children's museums, fitness facility, etc.)
- Add your au pair's name as a point of contact, where necessary (i.e. school pick up, etc.)
- Create a written document that states that your au pair is allowed to take your child(ren) to the doctor, dentist, etc. (if you so choose)
- Have an envelope with important documents, such as a copy of the child(ren)'s health insurance card, emergency contact numbers, and the written letter discussed above