Possibilities for arranging an au pair stay in the UK
There are different possibilities to become an au pair in Great Britain:
Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme
A two-year visa available for au pairs from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan and Monaco and British citizens of the overseas territories or British nationals living overseas.
UK Ancestry Visa
A two-year visa for au pairs from Commonwealth countries who have a grandparent who was born in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.
Available for au pairs from all nationalities who are enrolled in a full-time course of study in the UK.
Pre-Settled Status for EU citizens resident in the UK prior to 31 December 2020
For EU citizens who began their stay in the UK prior to 31 December 2020, there is the possibility to apply for Pre-Settled Status (application deadline: 30 June 2021). With Pre-Settled Status it is possible to remain in the UK for up to 5 years without restrictions regarding work or study.
Special status for Irish au pairs in the UK
In contrast to other EU countries, young people from Ireland can continue to enter and work in the UK without any additional restrictions resulting from the new Brexit conditions.
Au pairs can check their eligibility for possible visas using the UK Immigration Point Based System (PBS).
More detailed information on the various UK visa options for au pairs:
Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme
The Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme makes it possible for young people (aged 18-30) from certain countries to spend a limited time living and working in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.
Who can apply for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme?
Young people from the following countries are eligible for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea
- British citizens of the overseas territories or British nationals living overseas
For au pairs from the Republic of Korea, your own government will act as your sponsor during your stay in the UK. Bear in mind that the number of places and sponsorship certificates for nationals of these countries is limited. You need to apply for your visa within 3 months upon receipt of your certificate of sponsorship. (Please note: the latter is not a printed document, but a reference number).
How does it work?
Under the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme, points are given for nationality and age. It is crucial for applicants to have enough funds (maintenance) to support themselves for the length of the stay in Britain, and the applicant should provide evidence of having access to at least 1,890 GBP in savings.
Step 1: Check passport validity
Au pairs should make sure that they have a valid passport before planning a trip.
Step 2: Sign the au pair contract
The host family should send the signed au pair contract to the au pair.
Step 3: Apply for visa
The au pair should make the arrangements for the visa, which can be applied for online.
When applying, the following documents will have to be submitted to the British embassy or consulate in the au pair's home country:
- a valid passport containing a blank page for the visa
- a passport photo meeting the necessary requirements
- a bank statement proving access to at least GBP 1,890
- results of a tuberculosis (TB) test if required
- a certified translation of all documents that are not written in either English or Welsh
It is advisable to check with the British embassy or consulate whether any further documents are required.
The visa is usually issued to cover a period of 2 years. Therefore, the respective au pairs do not need to contact the UK Visas and Immigration Office after 6 months. The au pair may leave and re-enter the country within this period of time. If an au pair who requires a visa needs to register with the police, this will be noted in his/her passport. In this case, the au pair should register within 7 days of arrival.
The work permit which the au pair receives under the Youth Mobility Scheme is automatically valid for 24 months.
UK Ancestry visa
This is a visa that is issued to those Commonwealth citizens, who can prove that they have a grandparent born in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.
Who is eligible for this programme?
Au pairs from Commonwealth countries can apply for an UK Ancestry visa, if:
- they or the relevant parent were adopted, or were born in the UK (please note: you cannot claim UK ancestry through step-parents!)
- they can prove that they have a grandparent either born in the UK, including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, on a British-registered ship or aircraft, or, before 31 March 1922 in what is now the Republic of Ireland
- they are applying from outside the UK
- they are able and planning to work in the UK
- they are at least 17 years old
- they have enough money and need no help from public funds.
For detailed information on the visa application and eligibility, please consult the UK Visas and Immigration office.
Students who have been offered a place on a course may be allowed to work a certain number of hours per week (usually up to 20), depending on their course level and sponsor.
It should be clarified between the au pair and host family, how many hours of au pair work are expected and how these hours will be scheduled. A full time study course may make it difficult to also accommodate au pair duties for a host family. Keep in mind that the immigration officials at the point of entry always have the right to refuse entry should they believe that the student is in truth intending to work full time.
If there are further questions regarding this visa, please check the official information on the General student visa or contact the British authorities directly.
Pre-Settled Status for EU citizens
All EU citizens who have resided in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 are eligible to apply for this status. It typically is granted relatively directly using an online application process.
With the pre-settled status, an EU au pair will essentially have the same rights as prior to the Brexit separation for a period of up to 5 years. That means a young person can:
- Work in the UK
- Use the NHS
- Enroll or continue to take part in education studies
- Travel in and out of the UK
The independent charity network Citizens Advice has prepared step-by-step guidance for completing the Pre-Settled Status application.