Loving life in the Nations Capital!

Lauran Au Pair in America

I’m Lauran and I’ve been an Au Pair in America for over 9 months now, I live in Washington D.C and I absolutely love this beautiful city!

I have made so many new friends, travelled to new places, been part of an amazing family and loved experiencing the culture of this remarkable place.

I live with a British/American family with two boys 2 & 4. They are such a lovely family who really make me feel part of their family, the Dad is from England which is really cool as we relate on many things!

My host mum is the nicest person and all my friends love coming to our house as my host parents are so kind and welcoming. The two boys are full-on balls of energy at all times! The four year old is in pre school from 9-3 so I spend most of the day with the 2 year old.

We usually go to an activity in the morning like a play date, story time, the zoo, playground or gymboree. Then we head home for lunch and nap time, after which we go to school pick up and spend the afternoon playing at the park or at home before I make them dinner and their parents come home.

Kiwi Au Pairs

Kiwi Au Pairs


I am so privileged to be a part of this amazing family and I know that even when my year is over we will continue to be in contact and I will be able to see the boys grow up and know I was a part of their early development.

I’m so lucky to live in D.C it is such a beautiful city, not too big but at the same time busy and filled with sites to see, and things to do! The monuments and museums are a big part of what makes Washington D.C such a nice city, I love going down to the National Mall and walking around the museums and monuments, they are so mesmerising and the History that they represent is quite astounding, especially for a kiwi as we don’t have anything like this at home!

Me outside the U.S Capitol


As it’s the Capital the government runs a lot of the city, which is pretty great as it means a lot of the attractions are free!

I studied an online American Studies course through UCLA in the winter which was great and I learnt so much about this Country’s History which made me realise how much more special it was that I got to spend a year in the Nations Capital where so much of this History is memorialized.

I have made so many great friends from all around the world and I know I have made lifelong friends that I look forward to visiting in their home countries one day soon.

The Au Pair in America Program is great at preparing you and welcoming you to your new home. You can talk to au pairs in your cluster before you even arrive and everyone is so welcoming to the new arrivals, which makes it so much easier to settle into your life in America.

I have been fortunate to travel quite a bit too. I went with my host family to Boston for Thanksgiving and headed to London for Christmas to visit friends. My fellow kiwi au pair friend and I took a trip to Miami and a cruise around the Bahamas in April.


I was also so lucky my parents came over for a 3 week visit last month. We had a long weekend in New York City seeing the sites and going to a couple of Broadway shows. Then they came to D.C and it was great to show them my life here, meet my host family and friends. We then headed off for a weeks holiday to Las Vegas and San Francisco which was great to see new places.

Me in the Grand Canyon

I am currently planning my travel month at the moment with my brother coming over from NZ to travel with me to Hawaii, LA and Chicago for the All Blacks game :)

I am also doing a two week Contiki from LA to New Orleans travelling through 12 of the Southern States. Travel has always been a passion of mine and I’m so happy I get to travel and see so much of the Country while being here.

I highly recommend the Au Pair in America program to anyone who has a passion for children, an interest in American culture and wants to travel and make new friends. The support you receive from the agency is awesome, and you will never feel alone while you are here. I have done so much, seen so many sites and meet so many great people that I am sure I will look back on my time here and wish I could do it all over again.


For more information on becoming an Au Pair in America see http://www.nanniesabroad.co.nz/america




It’s crazy to think that I’ve nearly been in America four months

Hi, I’m Anna and I’ve been an Au Pair in America since January 2014.

Anna Rust Au Pair in America snow

It’s crazy to think that I’ve nearly been here four months, time just flies by. I live in suburban Philadelphia, the fifth biggest city in America, in the state of Pennsylvania. I have meet so many au pairs from all different countries and am really enjoying experiencing the American lifestyle.

I care for four children, three girls; 5, 13 and 14 and one boy who is 9. The family is blended so at times I have all four children but other times the 14 year old goes to her Dad’s and the 13 and 9 year old go to their Mum’s very other weekend and on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Everyday is different; sometimes very busy and full on but other days pretty chill.

My week would typically look like this; start work at 6:30am, getting breakfast all ready, then children up and ready for school. First out the door is the 9 year old; he catches a school bus so I have to wait with him at the corner at 7:30am. The 14 year old gets herself ready and to school on the public bus. I then need to make sure the 5 and 13 year old is eating breakfast and all dressed, ready for school. The 13 year old has Down syndrome and requires extra time, assistance and patience. We are out the door by 8:15 and together we walk the 13 year old to school which about 10 to 15 minute. Then I head the other way to drop the 5 year old at preschool.

From then until 3 I have the day free. I like to go to the gym, which I do with another au pair. After that I often read, meet up with other au pairs for coffee or frozen yoghurt or just chill out.

At 3pm it is all go again with picking the children up from school or collecting them from the bus, getting a snack for them and into homework. After homework is all done we often have an hour free before dinner to play, my host mum normally cooks dinner.

As it’s getting warmer outside we like to play with the football, hide and seek or tag. Monday night there is no activities so it’s to bed on time after a shower and stories.

Tuesdays the 13 year old has Hebrew school and the 9 year old has either soccer or ice hockey. Dinner is earlier on these nights and I drive them to and from these activities.

Wednesdays the 5 year old is the only one at home and she has gymnastics before dinner.

Thursdays the 14 year old has ice skating and every other Friday everyone is home. Typically we have a pizza movie night. Saturdays the kids have activities in the morning then in the afternoon I take them some place like the zoo, please touch museum or a playground. Normally I have Sundays off.

The area where I live is really nice, plenty of coffee shops, pubs and restaurants within walking distance. There is also heaps of au pairs and we often try to meet up once a week at Starbucks.

Anna Rust Au Pair in America

Public transport is a great easy way to get into the city. The train only takes 30 minutes and on my day off I try to get into the city to look around and shop.

New York City is only a two hour bus ride away and you can get really cheap tickets. I’ve been a couple of times but am already planning the next time, it is amazing go and look around Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park.

Washington, D.C. is also really close and easy to get a bus ride down. I spent a couple of days there and got to see all the iconic sights like the White House and the Lincoln Memorial.

Anna Rust Au Pair in America Lincoln Memorial

Other than these cities is haven’t done a lot of travel but am planning on going down to Florida and then across to California and Las Vegas in my travel month. I’m taking a Niagara Falls class so I will be able to see the falls with a group of other au pairs in June.

Anna Rust Au Pair in America St patricks

My family is really nice, there is obviously hard times but there is also really good times. It’s great having au pairs as friends as you can talk about your family and troubles you might be experiencing and they often understand and can give you advice about how to handle the situation as chances are, there have experienced something similar.

I’ve meet so many amazing girls from all over the world who I know will be life long friends. We already plan on visiting each other in each other’s home country. I’ve also learnt a lot about the American culture, every holiday is so big here, I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving.

To anybody who wants to go overseas as an au pair I say go for it!

It’s a truly amazing opportunity, you meet many amazing people from all over the world, get to experience another country’s culture and have the chance to travel and explore.

Anna Rust Au Pair in America 2

Katie loving it in Seattle.

Au Pair in America Friends

The friends you make will be forever

Being an Au pair in the United States has changed my life in so many ways. I have been here in Seattle for 1year and 7months now. I take care of a 11yr old boy, 8yr old girl and a 6yr old boy. When I first arrived here I was greeted by my host mother Sally with a lovely bunch of flowers and a warm smile. Yes at first everything is new and scary but you soon get used to everything.

Right away I was getting phone calls and e-mails from other Au Pairs close by, wanting to meet me and take me out! Everyone looks after each other and I never felt alone.

Au Pair in America Swimming

Swimming with friends I’ve made

I have made the most amazing friends here so far. Girls from Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Germany and America. I can’t wait to travel to their countries and see them again, they really are friendships that will last a life time. I also have a very close relationship with my host parents, they really are a second family to me and I love them very much.





In my time here so far I have been able to study Guitar, Spanish, Photography and Painting. All of these classes were so much fun and kept me busy and happy. Not only did I learn new things but I saw SO many new things as well. I travelled to Florida and Iowa with my host family a couple of times. I was able to save money and go to Hawaii and also Jamaica two times. Without the Au Pair program I would never have been able to see and do what I have done.

Au Pair in America Travel

the sights you see are amazing

I have had so much fun getting to know the American way of life and joining in with traditions and holidays. Halloween and Thanksgiving are two of my very favorite times with the kids. America is so huge and there is so much to see and do. It really is such an incredible country.



Katie Martin Au Pair in AmericaAs my time here starts to come to an end and I look back on how much I have learnt and how much I have changed, I truly feel so lucky to have had this opportunity. Travel, children, taking risks and laughing have been the basis of time here.





I will forever and always have the best memories of being an “Au pair in America”.

Au Pair in America Childcare

the kids are awesome

an outing and a half!

an outing and a half!

Tiffany has the time of her life in America as an Au Pair

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

This quote sums up my time in America so far. I have been lucky enough to get to explore and discover America, visiting places I could only dream of.

Hey I’m Tiffany and I am living in Lexington, Massachusetts. I have been here since February this year and am having the time of my life. It still amazes me that my time here is going by so fast, but when I look back, I know that I have done so much during my nine
months here so far, and there is so much that I have to look forward to during the rest of my time here.

I always thought of America as they portray it in movies. But it is so much more than that. Being an Au Pair has allowed me to experience what I now think of as ‘the real America’. Being immersed in an American family gives you an insight into what America is really like – you get traditional American experiences such driving on the right side of the road, watching an American Football game, seeing Fourth of July fireworks, dressing up for Halloween, eating hotdogs and fried dough. You are giving the opportunity to learn about America’s schooling system, the way their government is run, as well as little things like how to tip at a restaurant.

I am lucky enough to be an Au Pair for three wonderful children aged 14, 11 and 7. The oldest has just begun high school and the younger two are at elementary school. My host family is very involved in the community and all the children play a lot of sport throughout the year. My week consists of getting the children ready for school each morning, doing laundry and keeping the children’s play areas and rooms tidy, picking them up from school, helping with homework and getting them ready and off to sports in the afternoons. I help with dinner, but generally have most evenings off.

I help out with sports and other activities, such as birthday parties, occasionally in the weekend. During my time off I like to go for Starbucks with friends, visit the mall (I probably spend too much of my time there), go to concerts or events, take road trips to towns and states nearby, as well as spending time going for walks and relaxing.

From the day I landed in America, I was already receiving emails and messages from other Au Pairs in the same area that I was going to. Au Pair in America has a great Cluster system that allows you to meet with other Au Pairs who live in the same area. Through this, I have made a fantastic group of friends who I enjoy getting to hang out with on my time off in the evenings and during the weekend.

Over the summer I attended classes at a Community College nearby. Part of the course I did required me to go on a trip to Montreal, Canada for a long weekend. This was such a great experience as I learned a lot about American history during the classes and also got to see a bit of Canada and learn about their culture also. This weekend, myself and three others are driving to upstate New York to attend a weekend course at Silverbay. This course is specially designed for Au Pairs where you spend time participating in various workshops throughout the weekend.

During the ten weeks that the children were on summer vacation, we stayed in the family’s holiday house in Cape Cod. Each day the children had tennis and sailing lessons, and spent nearly every afternoon swimming at the beach. I was lucky enough to participate in tennis tournaments, take a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard and also made some new friends.

Since arriving in America, I have been privileged to see other parts of the country. Last winter I went with my host family to ski in Vermont, as well as spending a week at Disney World Florida with friends. I am a huge tennis fan, and was lucky enough to get tickets to the US Open in September this year – this was an experience that I will never forget. In January I am spending two weeks travelling across the country. I will spend some time in New York City before continuing onto Colorado, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and then driving up through California to San Francisco.

For those of you considering coming to America to be an Au Pair, it is something that I recommend you do. It is such a fantastic way to see America and a great way to meet people from all over the world. It is such a rewarding job to have – being able to be part of a family and seeing the children grow over your time here. The memories that I have from my time here are memories I am sure I will never forget.

Kiwi Zeta and her time in USA as an Au Pair in America

Hey, my name is Zeta and I live in Olney, Maryland.

I look after two girls a 9 year old, and 7 years old who has Cerebral Palsy as part of my year with the Au Pair in America Program. I have been here for 10 months now and have enjoyed it all! My typical week includes working before school to help get the girls up, dressed and have their breakfast before they go on the bus to school (usually about 7am to 8.45am). I then have the day free until it’s time to get the girls from school, on Mondays I take my youngest to Physiotherapy but the other days we come back to the house for homework and snacks. After the homework is out of the way and my host parent is home from work I will get the girls bathed and into pjs before dinner. After dinner I am free to do as I wish however most nights I will stay in during week.

Meaning I usually I work from about 2pm till 8pm in the evenings. At the weekends when I am not working I go shopping with my friends or we do something else fun. The shopping here is great as there is so much more range then in New Zealand and it’s so well priced! Olney is a small town about half way between Washington DC and Baltimore. I have a car to myself which makes exploring the area easy, and I have also taken a few trips.

I went to New Orleans for 4 days in May with two of my friends from Germany, we had a great time and I went on a swamp tour! I got to hold a baby Alligator, was one of my best memories from the trip! In June I went on a 3 day bus tour to Niagara Falls and stayed on the Canadian side which was absolutely beautiful! Definitely a place you should visit while in US, and there are great attractions you can go on while there to see the falls up close. I went on the Maid of the Mist boat ride which took you to the base of the falls, and also on the Journey behind the falls walking tour where you go through tunnels that open up right behind the falls, it’s amazing how loud it is!

I also went on a weeklong trip to Bethany Beach, Delaware with my host mum, the girls and my host mums family. There were 14 of us all up and I loved how close it made me feel to my family, they all made me feel so welcome. We just relaxed on the beach most days, but also spent a day shopping at the outlets and a day at an attraction park and went on go karts and some rides which was a lot of fun. I am also planning on going to Las Vegas in December before I come home; it’s going to be great!

If you are thinking of coming to U.S for a year as a nanny…Do it!

You will have an amazing year, get to see some incredible things and meet new people from all across the world!

A Typical week for Erin as a Kiwi Au Pair in America

A Typical Week


I am Erin and I live in Northern Virginia, near Washington D.C. and look after one little girl.  She was one when I arrived, and turns two next month, just days before my one year anniversary as an Au Pair.

I wanted to explain a little about my situation and my typical week as an au pair.  I live in a suburban area, with no other au pairs within walking distance so having a car has been great for me the past few months, as when I arrived I did not have access to a car during the day, but the playground and pool were within walking distance which was great.

A typical day for us starts with me beginning work at 7:30am so my host parents may go to work.  The baby may or may not be up by then, if she is up I get started on breakfast, or if she is not up I wait for her to wake up and then change her diaper, dress her, give her any morning medications and her morning bottle and then start breakfast.  Each morning I am responsible for unloading the dishwasher and generally tidying the living area.  I do this while the baby has breakfast, and then I will have breakfast with her.  She generally has a mixture of cereals, oatmeal, fruit and yoghurt for breakfast, which changes daily depending on what we have.  I usually have cereal.

After breakfast we play for a while – generally she will play with her dolls or other toys, or we may read some books together.

Around 9am to 9:30am I begin to get organised for whatever we are doing that day.  Activities we will go out to in the morning include – a weekly visit to the library, a little dance class she is registered for, a trip to the mall indoor playground, a trip to a lake or park, a trip to the zoo or other outdoor activity such as a nature centre, or if there are any playdates or cluster meeting playdates we go to those too.

We usually are home by lunchtime and we have lunch which could be anything from leftovers, to scrambled eggs, sandwiches, macaroni cheese, subway or whatever is in the fridge.  I then give her a bottle and put her down for an afternoon nap.  She generally sleeps 3-4 hours in the afternoon during which time I do laundry and tidy up toys and then can use the rest of the time to do whatever I like within the house.

When she wakes up she has a snack, a bath and we may go to the pool or just play and read books until my host parents come home.



On weeknights I do varied things – sometimes  I stay home and chill out with my host family, meet other au pairs for dinner or coffee, go shopping, attend cluster meetings, go to the gym or the pool or go to the movies.


On weekends we get up to many activities.  A lot of the girls in the cluster use our cluster facebook pages to suggest outings, or I organise things to do with my friends.  A few recent examples include a weekend trip to Niagra Falls, Boston or Toronto; theme parks – Six Flags of America, Busch Gardens or Kings Dominion, a trip to Virginia Beach, kayaking for our cluster meeting, going to the movies, going shopping, going to museums in DC, sightseeing in the area or attending classes.



For my education for my first year I did the travel classes through the Borough of Manhattan Community College which you may take if you live in the DC/VA/MD area, or Philadelphia area or New York area.

The first class I did was the New York class, in which you attend three Saturday classes in which you learn about New York City, and do a presentation on a topic related to New York City.  Then you do a weekend trip to the city where you have a guided tour on the Saturday, then you have Saturday night and Sunday free to explore the city.

It was a great way to explore the city and to meet new au pairs.

The second class I did was the Philadelphia and Amish Country class.  In this class we spent three Saturdays in classes learning about Philadelphia and the Amish people and then did a weekend trip to Lancaster, where a large Amish population is located and Philadelphia.  We had tours all day Saturday, with Saturday night free, and a tour on Sunday morning where we got to see the Liberty Bell and the constitution and declaration of independence, with free time Sunday afternoon.


These classes are about $400 each, depending on which one you take.  They also offer Niagara Falls, Montreal and Boston classes.

This year I am enrolling in classes through Sojourner Douglass College as they are a bit cheaper and shorter, being just weekend courses.  I have enrolled in an Art History course based in DC on two Saturdays, and a Psychology course which is a weekend course in Baltimore, MD.  These were about $300 each.


If you are thinking about coming – do it!  I have has the best year experiencing the USA and meeting new friends from around the world!

And I now have another year to look forward to as I just extended with my family for 2012-2013

Happy Hannah’s Hijinks in Virginia

I have been an au pair in America for about 5 months. I came to America soon after finishing High School as a GAP year because I had no clue what to do with my life.  I enjoy looking after children from previous babysitting jobs so I decided this was a great way to travel and work.

My family lives in Virginia about 30 minutes out of Washington DC. I look after a four year old and coincidentally we have the same name. Both my host parents work outside the house so my normal working hours are 8am-4.45pm. My schedule is based around a kindergarten schedule so we do reading/writing/math and some art/music in the morning then in the afternoon we walk to the community swimming pool or play outside.

I have been very lucky to have had the chance to do a decent amount of travelling in the first three months I was here. My host mom’s job required her to go on work trips regularly. I have been to New York City, Denver/Colorado, Miami/South Florida and Minnesota. When we go away on vacation I don’t work besides maybe one day so that my host parents can go and do something. Also, I have done some weekend trips to Niagara Falls/Canada, Maryland and West Virginia. I have a week of vacation booked on the West Coast in September as one of my two weeks of paid vacation.

I have met many other au pairs from the area including a couple New Zealanders. We do all sorts of things like shopping, going to the cinemas, Starbucks and exploring DC and Northern Virginia and even further afield.

My community counselor is really helpful and always there when I need advice. She organizes great cluster events too and every meeting we get a rubber duck (she is obsessed with rubber ducks) to add to the collection. A few of the cluster events she has organized are an outdoor movie showing of Dirty Dancing, Fireworks at the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC and an Olympics Pool Party.

I am looking forward to the next 7 months of my experience in the USA 

Lauren tells us about her year in America as an Au Pair

My Year so far in America

I arrived in America in September of 2011 and now with less than 2 months left I’ve realized how quickly a year flies by. After arriving in a new country, orientation was a great opportunity to meet other girls who I would be spending my year with.

I live in the New York State, and the city is just an easy train ride away. New York is such a truly amazing city with so much going on. Every season brings a whole new feel to the city. Christmas in New York was probably my favourite time here – amazing Christmas markets and ice skating rinks throughout the city. I’ve also seen a Broadway show, a NY Knicks Basketball game, Ice Hockey games and spent New Years Eve in Times Square and now that summer is here I’m planning on going to a NY Yankees game.

New York City! Hard to beat

My host family have 3 children, aged 18, 16 and 11 however the oldest attends boarding school so for the most part there’s only 2 of the kids at home. I’ve loved my time here with my host family, they’re really lovely and welcoming and have made me feel completely at home here. I also love the town I live in as it’s a small, pretty town with the beach only 5 minutes away, yet New York City is so close and accessible.

There are a lot of other au pairs in my area which is really great as I’ve met so many great friends here and they’re from all around the world.

For the educational requirements, I took two travel courses through BMCC. The first was a Washington DC course. There are 3 classes you have to attend and then a weekend trip to DC. The second course was a Niagara Falls trip. There is a huge range of courses available to take but I chose these travel ones as it’s a good way to gain your educational credits and visit some other cities at the same time. Both trips were a lot of fun and were another good opportunity to meet more au pairs.

One of the greatest aspects of my year here has been the opportunity for travel throughout the States. As well as DC and Niagara Falls, I’ve visited Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Miami. Each city is so different and all were amazing. And from NYC many of them are only a reasonably short bus ride.

Next week I’m heading to California with a friend for a road trip, starting in L.A. and heading up the coast to San Francisco. I can’t wait to visit the West Coast and have the ‘California road trip’ experience but once I return I will only have about 3 weeks left before my year is up.

When you first arrive, a year seems like so much time but it honestly disappears before you know it. I’ve had such a great year here, met so many amazing friends and had a great host family. I know I will miss all the wonderful people here and the vibrant city. (Though I probably won’t miss people never understanding my kiwi accent or giving me a strange look when I call flip-flops ‘jandals’).

For anyone considering doing the Au Pair in America programme I would definitely recommend it. ~ Lauren Grierson (Hobsonville, Auckland placed in NY State)

Things you should know about working as a nanny in USA




Can I work in USA without a J-1 Cultural Exchange Visa?

Not legally – some people in the past have entered and worked on a tourist visa (visa waiver), but you should think twice (maybe more than twice) before you do so. Maybe friends of someone you know have done it without any problems – but please read on. The US government have clear rules to protect nannies coming to America and to reassure American families that the nanny they employ has been carefully selected and prepared for this demanding job. Only a few US appointed and approved agencies – such as Au Pair in America – are authorised by the government to arrange legal nanny visas.

Today, with the internet ads, many nannies are tempted to find families themselves. Sometimes, of course, they end up in nice families, but very often – as we know from our experience – the illegal nanny job can turn into the job from hell. The family will reassure you that it is ok and perfectly legal but unless you have the right working visa in your passport BEFORE you leave New Zealand – you’re not legal! You have to ask yourself why these families don’t want to be screened by a large agency? It it because they don’t think their nanny is worth the fee? Will your pay cheques bounce? Are they hiding something?

At Nannies Abroad we sometimes receive phone calls from desperate mothers and fathers whose daughters left for America with no visa or with a tourist visa, to work in a family they found themselves on the internet. The situations these girls are in are often frightening and unbelievable (just like you see on TV). They plead with us to help their daughter by taking her into our legal program so they can be protected, but this is not an option by then because a legal “J-1″ visa can only be issued to applicants before they leave NZ. Under no circumstances will US Immigration issue one from within USA. All we can do is advise the nanny to return home as soon as possible and perhaps go through the channels correctly this time.

There are in fact serious risks involved in going to the US as a nanny without the help of a government-authorised program. For example…

Its illegal.

The US government strictly warns that you may not work in America if you have a tourist visa, even if you only receive your room and board and no salary. Many people are discovered at LA airport and turned back. Others are arrested later (once in the family) and deported. Their names are put on a computerised “black list” and they are not allowed to return to the United States for many years. All ‘illegal aliens’ are arrested.

The warning of the American Embassy: “It is strictly forbidden to work or study in the United States with a tourist visa! This applies even if you do not earn a wage and receive compensation in the form of meals and lodging. Visitors who are found to have take up work, in spite of this warning, run the risk of being arrested and expelled from the country.”

The family from HELL

You may receive a very tempting offer from an American family – your own car to use, a great salary, great working week – no weekends, a huge house, your own flat, “wonderful children who love their nannies”, and even a “contract” – when you arrive. But the conditions of the contract will be dictated by the family, not you, and if they don’t respect the contract – which is of no value because you are there illegally, who will help protect you against being taken advantage of? Nobody. You may find that your “dream job” lasts only two weeks. If you don’t get on with the Mom or if you can’t manage their “wonderful children” they can sack you, and they won’t think twice about doing that, because you have taken ALL the risks. The family can treat you the way they want, change your job description or working conditions – just because they can!. You will have to accept this or leave, in the hope of finding another family on your own. You may find yourself in the street with no place to go and nobody to turn to. The police? They will arrest you and ask to see your ‘papers’ and you will be detained as an ‘illegal alien’.

Unexpected changes.

Even if your host family treats you fairly, the conditions in the family can suddenly change and result in your having to leave: death, divorce, separation, illness, financial problems, moving away, or the mother, for example, could decide to stop working and stay at home and wouldn’t need you anymore. There would be no organisation ready to help you find a new family. With businesses going into bankruptcy in USA it is a normal thing for people to lose their jobs.


In 1996, the American Congress passed new legislation giving the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) a budget of 748 million dollars and new draconian powers to eliminate all persons living or working illegally in the USA. The INS now has over 15,000 agents out looking for them, and in the first two years (1996/1997) – about 285,000 people were arrested and deported. While waiting for their deportation these people are usually sent to one of the many overcrowded internment centers around the country, where you can find anything but five-star comfort. (In November 1998, the prisoners staged a protest in a New York detention center: 80 people were sleeping on mattresses in a dormitory built to hold 42. You will agree that this is not exactly the kind of “cultural exchange” that the US government wants visiting Kiwis to experience).

As an illegal nanny, you will have to constantly live with the possibility of being discovered , or arrested by the police and sent home at your expense. Nannies with a legal “J-1″ Cultural Exchange visa in their passport don’t have to worry about this.

Health and accident insurance.

As an illegal worker, you will have to organise your own Medical Insurance for the whole time you are in USA. A trip to the doctor can cost $200+US (NZ$250+). If you crash the parents car – or ‘your car’, the police will automatically ask for your papers, – you will not have car insurance so will have to pay for it yourself. Travel Insurance for 12 months through a travel agency is $2000+NZD.

It’s really not worth the risks and there are no benefits. The flights provided by Nannies Abroad and Au Pair in America are discounted heavily – so in fact you are better off. It’s always good to be safe – like Mum says “better to be safe than sorry”.