Why It’s Not So Easy to Hire a Nanny from Overseas
Many parents have dreams of hiring a foreign nanny to care for their children, but their dreams are quickly shattered when they learn that hiring a nanny from abroad isn’t as easy as they previously thought.
All employers in the United States are required to document that each employee hired is authorized to work in the United States. As household employers, nanny employers are legally required to verify a nanny candidate’s employment eligibility using form I-9 from the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services.
In order for a nanny to legally accept work in the United States, she must be a citizen of the United States, a noncitizen national of the United States, a lawful permanent resident, or an alien authorized to work in the United States. Because of these criteria, most nannies outside of the United States aren’t able to legally accept work in the United States.
Many times parents question the validity of this explanation because they have friends with foreign nannies caring for their children, or have met foreign nannies caring for American children in the parks or at playgrounds. This is often because they are meeting “Au pairs” and not nannies.
The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs oversees the Au Pair or J-1 Visa program. Through this program, foreign nationals between the ages of 18 and 26 years of age who are a secondary school graduate or equivalent and who are proficient in English can come to the United States to continue their education and experience American life with a host family. In exchange for room, board, and a stipend, Au Pairs provide limited child care.
Sometimes, an Au Pair will outstay her J-1 visa and look for child care work as a nanny, or a family will meet a nanny in the United States who is not able to legally accept employment. Hiring a nanny who does not have authorization to work in the United States can be problematic. If caught, nanny employers could face fines and penalties for hiring unauthorized workers.
When parents who wish to hire a foreign nanny realize that the nanny must have the proper authorization to legally accept employment, they often want to help the nanny secure it. Unfortunately, obtaining the proper visa or work authorization isn’t something that can be done quickly. Typically, the process can take several months to many years, longer than most parents are able to wait to secure nanny care for their children.
For families who wish to hire a foreign nanny to live in their home, there may be some hope. The U.S. Department of Immigration reclassified live-in nannies from unskilled to skilled workers. This means that some nannies in some countries may be eligible to secure a visa to work in the United States as a live-in nanny. For parents considering this option, they should seek the services of an immigration attorney who specializes in securing visas for nannies.