Pocket money, working hours and contract for au pairs in the USA (America)

How does the J-1 visa work for au pairs in the USA? How much does an au pair in the USA earn and what are the working hours? These and other questions about an au pair stay in the USA are answered here for au pairs and host families.

Young woman holding a wallet

All au pair stays in the USA must be organised through an officially approved agency and the au pair must have a J-1 visa

Au pair contract

The au pair contract with the host family is arranged through one officially approved agency for au pair stays in the USA.

The specific conditions of a contract termination are regulated by the officially approved agency that has arranged the au pair stay. Information should be obtained from the agency.


Length of stay

The J-1 visa for au pairs is issued for a period of 12 months. It can be extended for 6, 9 or 12 months for a maximum possible stay of 24 months.


Au pair duties

Au pairs are responsible for helping with childcare in the family. In addition, light housework can also be undertaken if it is associated with caring for children, e.g. tidying the children’s room, or doing children’s laundry. The exact duties may be specified in the au pair contract. 

Important: If the children are younger than 3 months, a parent or other adult person must always be present while care is being given by the au pair.

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Pocket money

Au pairs in the USA must receive a minimum of $195.75 pocket money per week, depending on the specific arrangements made between the host family and the au pair.

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Board and lodging

In addition to their pocket money, au pairs receive free board and lodging. They should also receive this during periods when they are ill or during their vacation.

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Working hours

Au pairs in the USA work up to 45 hours per week and a maximum of 10 hours per day.

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Free time / Vacation

Au pairs entitled to 1.5 days off per week, as well as 1 free weekend per month. The free weekend starts on Friday evening and ends on Monday morning.

Au pairs are entitled to 2 weeks vacation (= 10 working days) provided that the au pair stay with the host family lasts 12 months.

In the US, there are no official regulations with regard to public holidays for au pairs. We recommend that au pairs have a day off on public holidays. Only in exceptional cases should au pairs work on public holidays. The host family should discuss this with their au pair beforehand.

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Preparation course

Before the au pair begins the stay with the host family, it is necessary to attend special workshops and trainings on child safety and child development. For further details, please contact one of the designated agencies.


Language course

Some agencies offer language courses for au pairs. Taking part in these courses is compulsory in some cases.

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Tuition support

The au pair receives support in the amount of $500 to help pay for attending college courses.


Au pair insurance

Au pairs are insured through the agency that arranges their au pair stay. More information on the subject of insurance is available from the agency handling the placement.

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Travel costs

Travel costs are included in the placement fee you and your host family pay to one of the designated au pair sponsor agencies.


Car driving and driving licence

It is not mandatory that au pairs in the USA have a driving licence. However, as cars are the most popular means of transport, most host families will require their au pair to drive. That's why most sponsor agencies require that applicants have a valid driving licence.

Many host family need their au pair to drive their children to kindergarten, school, sports, music lessons, doctor appointments, friends, etc., as cars are the main way of arranging daily travel in many American locations. It is therefore important to clarify in advance issues of insurance and liability, which your au pair agency can also help you with.

Au pairs must check if their driving licence is valid or if they need an international licence. The sponsor agency arranging the au pair stay can provide more information.

More on driving licence regulations in the USA is available on the website Transportation and Public Works.
Information about international driving licences can be found at automobile organisations or road traffic authorities in your home country.

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We are continually researching and updating our host country information, but cannot guarantee that all material provided is complete and correct. If you notice gaps or inaccuracies, we would like to hear from you.