The requirements for EU citizens and non-EU citizens are different.
EU: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
EFTA: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland
Non-EU: Citizens of all other countries
Information for au pairs from the EU and the EFTA
Au pairs from an EU or EFTA state do not need a visa to enter Germany. However, there are some important points to keep in mind.
Step 1: An identity card or passport is required
It is necessary to have a valid identity card or passport to come to Germany. Before leaving, au pairs should check how long their documents will still be valid.
Step 2: Register at the Residents Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt)
Upon arrival in Germany, au pairs need to register at the local Residents Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt).
The following documents are needed for this:
- Identity card or passport
- Copy of the au pair contract signed by the au pair and the host family
Au pair visa for au pairs from non-EU countries
Au pairs from non-EU countries need a visa in order to enter Germany. It is important to start the visa application process sufficiently early as it can take some time to complete.
Step 1: Check passport validity
Au pairs need to be certain that they have a valid passport before planning their trip.
Step 2: Invitation letter and contract
The future host family sends the au pair the signed au pair contract and an invitation letter by post. The au pair needs these documents for the visa application. It is therefore important that they be sent well in advance of the au pair stay. Here it is possible to download templates for the invitation letter and contract.
Important: Depending on the German embassy in the au pair's home country, processing times for applications can sometimes be quite lengthy. We therefore advise au pairs to apply for an appointment for a visa application at the relevant diplomatic mission as soon as possible after they have made definite arrangements with a host family. While waiting for an appointment to be available, the au pair can get the contract with the host family signed and and start making sure that all the necessary documents are ready.
Step 3: Apply for visa
1. In Germany, there is an age limit for au pairs. An au pair cannot be older than 26 years of age when the visa application is made.
2. The German Embassy examines the au pair's basic knowledge of German. The individual embassies define what knowledge level will be considered adequate. Therefore, it makes sense for the au pair to inquire at the local embassy in advance to find out what level of language proficiency is deemed sufficient for an au pair visa.
3. The au pair needs the following documents when applying for a visa at the Germany embassy in her or his home country.
- the au pair contract signed by the host family (original)
- the invitation letter from the host family (original)
- a valid passport
- the insurance confirmation from the host family (the host family commits to taking out insurance when signing the invitation letter)
- a statement of motivation indicating how the au pair stay fits together with the au pair's specific plans
According to the au pair contract, the au pair stay should start within 6 months after the application for the visa has been made. The duration of the au pair placement must be for at least 6 months.
As soon as the visa has been issued, the au pair may travel to Germany. The processing time required for the visa application can vary from 6 weeks up to 3 months time. For more detailed information, contact the respective German Embassy and inquire.
Further documents can sometimes be required from the au pair, such as a police clearance certificate or a health certificate. Again, it is advisable for the au pair to inquire directly at the German embassy in his or her country.
Additional documents may also be requested from the host family, for example a registration certificate, a questionnaire for host families from the Federal Employment Agency, or a letter of committment.
With the letter of commitment, the host family declares that it is prepared to cover the living costs of the au pair. This commitment remains in force until the au pair has left the country. When the host family has signed such a letter of commitment, it is also advisable to think about implementing an insurance to cover possible deportation costs.
Step 4: Registration in Germany
The au pair visa is initially valid for a period of three months and enables the immediate commencement of au pair activities. When the au pair has arrived in Germany, the host family must register the au pair at the Residents' Registration Office (Einwohnermeldeamt). The residence permit and work permit will first be issued for a period of 3 months and must be extended thereafter.
For this purpose, a biometric passport photograph is required. Based on current experience, it currently takes 3 to 4 weeks until the residence permit is issued. Therefore, it is advisable to contact the local Immigration Office in good time regarding this matter.
Visa-free entry for citizens of specific countries
Au pairs from UK, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, South Korea and the USA may travel to Germany without a visa. Please note, however: It is necessary to apply for a residence title at the local Immigration Office (Ausländerbehörde) within three months after arrival and before the au pair placement starts. It is not allowed to start working before the residence title and work permit are granted by the authorities. To receive these documents, au pairs need to prove a basic knowledge of German at the A1 level in the European Framework of Reference for Languages at the local Immigration Office. Only then can the work as an au pair begin.
Additional part-time employment is not allowed for au pairs
Au pairs who are present in Germany on a visa may only carry out the job for which the visa has been issued. Other part-time employment in addition to the au pair position is therefore not allowed.
Alternatives for au pairs from non-EU states:
Working Holiday visa and Youth Mobility Scheme
The Working Holiday programme
Under the Working Holiday programme, young persons from specific countries aged between 18 and 30 years may enter Germany to live and work there for a limited period of time. For this purpose, they are issued a Working Holiday visa.
What au pairs should keep in mind with the Working Holiday visa
Young people who are in Germany with the Working Holiday Maker Visa do not officially have the status of an au pair, but rather that of an employee. As a result, the young person and the family do not have an au pair contract with each other but rather a regular employment contract. The family is thus the employer with the corresponding rights and duties, and there are other regulations regarding social insurance, taxes and minimum wage. there are other rules regarding the contract with the host family. The employment typically need to be reported to the authorities typically at the so-called Minijob-Zentrale.
The main emphasis with the Holiday Maker program is on travel and not on work. For that reason, one is usually not allowed to have the same employer for the entire time of one's stay in Germany. Details should be clarified with the German embassy in your country.
Who can apply under this programme?
Young persons from UK, Argentina, Australia, Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, and Uruguay.
Au pairs from these countries can apply for the visa from the German embassy or consulate in their home countries. For Australian, Israeli, Japanese and New Zealand au pairs can also enter Germany and apply for the visa from there.
Applicants must be between 18 and 30 years old. The Working Holiday visa is only issued once in a lifetime to an individual.
The required insurance is paid for by the person applying for the visa.
Further conditions and information regarding application for the Working Holiday visa is available from the respective German embassies.
What documents are needed for the application?
- a completed visa application form
- a valid passport; the validity should extend beyond the duration of stay by at least 3 months
- a recent biometric passport photo (35 x 45 mm)
- a copy of your return flight ticket or a confirmed flight reservation (round trip)
- proof of medical insurance
- proof of sufficient financial resources to afford the planned stay
For au pairs from Canada: Youth Mobility Programme
In connection with the Youth Mobility Programme young people from Canada can live and work in Germany for up to 12 months. Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 30.
As with the Working Holiday visa (see above), young people with this visa do not have the formal status of an au pair but rather that of an employees and work with a normal employment contract that includes provisions for social insurance, taxes and minimum wage.
Since Candians can enter Germany without a visa, it is also possible to apply for a residence permit in connection with the Youth Mobility Programme after arriving in Germany.
Interested persons can obtain information directly from the German embassy in Canada.