COVID-19, Visa, and Travel Updates

The Au Pair USA Program remains impacted by COVID-related country-specific travel restrictions, and visa processing delays. Below is a summary of the most up-to-date information.

April 8, 2021

National Interest Exceptions (NIEs): The Secretary of State has determined that the arrival of certain au pairs is in the national interest even if they are traveling from countries where geographic travel ban proclamations still exist. Based on the Secretary’s determination, National Interest Exceptions under these proclamations may be approved for the following categories of travel:

  • Special Needs: Host family needs childcare services for a minor by an au pair possessing the special skills required for a child with particular needs (e.g., medical, special education, or sign language).

  • COVID Medical Worker: Host family needs childcare services provided for a child whose parents are involved with the provision of medical care to individuals who have contracted COVID-19 or medical research at United States facilities to help the United States combat COVID-19.

The determination of whether an au pair qualifies for this National Interest Exception will be made at the au pair’s visa appointment in their home country. The full update about the National Interest Exceptions can be found at the State Department’s website.

April 1, 2021 - Phased Resumption of Visa Services

Presidential Proclamation 10052, which temporarily suspended the entry of certain visa types including J-1 au pair visas expired on March 31, 2021. Per the Department of State’s website, visa applicants who have not yet been interviewed or scheduled for an interview will have their applications prioritized and processed in accordance with existing phased resumption of visa services guidance. Visa applicants who were previously refused visas due to the restrictions of Presidential Proclamation 10052 may reapply by submitting a new application including a new fee. Applicants should check the website of their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for updates on the services that post is currently offering. Information about nonimmigrant visa wait times are available on the visa wait time tool.

Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States

As of January 26, 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control is requiring that all travelers to the United States show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Below are the specific details related to this requirement.

  • The COVID-19 test must be performed during the three days preceding departure.
    • For example, if a traveler is scheduled to fly to the U.S. on June 30th, then they must have the COVID-19 test performed on either June 27th, 28th, or 29th.
    • They will need to bring the printed proof of the negative test result when they go to the airport on the 30th.
  • Travelers will have to provide a COVID-19 test result document to the airline when they check-in for their flight.
  • Travelers must also keep the test result document available throughout their travel and show it to any U.S. Government official who requests it.
  • The COVID-19 test must be a viral test, either an “antigen test” or “NAAT”.
  • The COVID-19 test will need to be the “rapid result” variety with the results likely determined in the testing facility rather than being sent to a laboratory.

Travelers who have had a positive COVID-19 viral test in the past 3 months, and have met the criteria to end isolation, may travel instead with documentation of the positive viral test results and a letter from a healthcare provider or a public health official that states they have been cleared for travel. The positive test result and letter together are referred to as “documentation of recovery.”

Au pairs who already know their travel date should find a testing facility and schedule a test appointment as soon as possible. Au pairs are responsible for scheduling and paying for their COVID-19 test.

This requirement applies to all au pairs seeking to enter the U.S. regardless of whether they are entering for the first time or returning to continue their program after traveling internationally.

For more information about this recent order, please refer to the Centers for Disease Control’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Travel Restrictions

There are several country-specific travel bans that need to be considered. These restrictions apply according to whether an individual, of any nationality, has been present in the restricted country in the previous 14 days. The restriction is not based on whether they are a resident of that country. Au pairs who are on a valid visa in the U.S., and travel to one of these countries, will be prevented from returning to the U.S.

Travel restrictions are in effect for individuals who have been in these countries.

  • South Africa: No entry to the United States
  • Brazil: No entry to the United States
  • China: No entry to the United States
  • U.K. & Ireland: No entry to the United States
  • Schengen Area of 26 European Countries: No entry to the United States

Schengen area Includes Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Does an arriving au pair need to be quarantined?

Host families welcoming their au pair from outside of the U.S. or from another U.S. state are responsible for knowing and complying with all local and state guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including any quarantine requirements.

Center for Disease Control

Travel Restriction Resources

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