Coronavirus Updates & FAQs

At Cultural Care we want you to have all the information you need, and are here to support you on your au pair journey!

At Cultural Care we believe that cultural exchange makes the world a better place. With the current time of uncertainty during the COVID-19/Coronavirus development worldwide, there is no better time to think about what really matters, and for us that is bringing global families together.

To help support you, our program participants, we have created this page to keep you updated and informed during this time.

We will share updates as they happen on this page, and have created some frequently asked questions to help you with the information you need.

Please refer back to this page as we will update it with any new developments!



Updates:


An update on court ruling in the USA

An Executive Order issued on 22 June temporarily stopped certain visas, including au pair visas, from being issued. There has been a preliminary court ruling in the USA which found this order unlawful. This ruling is not final and is subject to change based on further proceedings in the lawsuit.

We are reviewing this case carefully and will keep our au pairs up to date as we get more information in the weeks and months ahead. If there are any potential new options available to au pairs given this update, we will contact them directly.


##### Update on the 22nd June Executive Order and possible exceptions for au pairs

The U.S. State Department has issued information on the ability for some au pairs travelling to host families who meet certain criteria to receive a waiver which will allow them to apply for a J-1 visa during the period of the 22nd June Executive order. The information can be found on their website.

The specific J-1 exceptions for the au pair program are as follows:

  • Travel to provide care for a minor U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, or nonimmigrant in lawful status by an au pair possessing special skills required for a child with particular needs (e.g., medical, special education, or sign language). Childcare services provided for a child with medical issues diagnosed by a qualified medical professional by an individual who possesses skills to care for such child will be considered to be in the national interest.
  • Travel by an au pair that prevents a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or other nonimmigrant in lawful status from becoming a public health charge or ward of the state of a medical or other public funded institution.
  • 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.

We suggest any placed au pairs who had planned to travel during the Executive Order should reach out to their host family to talk about their situation and to see whether they could qualify for one of the exceptions.

We are sending this information to all au pairs who could be impacted.

If a host family’s situation does not allow for the au pair to be part of this waiver, please know that Cultural Care in the USA continues to advocate for an exception for all au pairs and will continue to support them to start their au pair journey.


Update on Executive Order and au pairs who already have a visa and are waiting to travel

We are very happy to have clarified that au pairs who already have a visa will be able to travel to the USA as long as their visa is valid, and as soon as any local travel restrictions have been lifted.

We’re excited to get you on your way to the USA!


Update on the Executive Order to suspend the entry of au pair J-1 visas

The President of the United States has issued an Executive Order on 22nd June which suspends the entry of certain visa categories to the U.S. until the end of December 2020. The J-1 visa for au pairs has been included in this order. This order is a temporary measure and people with au pair visas will be able to travel to the USA again after the period of the order ends.

This will impact the departure of some au pairs to the USA, as they will not be able to travel to the USA until after 31st December 2020.

Cultural Care in the USA are reaching out to the US State Department for clarity, and we will update this page if there is any additional information. We are particularly looking for clarity on whether au pairs who already have a visa will be able to travel or not.

Through this week we will be reaching out to all au pairs who are impacted.

We are dedicated to get all our au pairs to the USA to start their au pair adventure as soon as possible once the order is over!

Cultural Care in the USA will continue its efforts to advocate to the Presidential Administration and Members of Congress for the exemption of au pairs from the Executive order. They will keep advocating for the opportunity for host families and au pairs to experience life changing cultural exchanges together.


Update on U.S. Department of State extension options due to COVID-19 for in country au pairs

The U.S. Department of State has announced an extension program that allows au pairs to remain legally in the US on their J1 visa for 2 to 6-months. This is an option for au pairs who are in the USA, and would like to stay with their current host family.

This update was made as the U.S. Department of State recognized the interest of program participants to extend their terms further due to visa and travel restrictions during the COVID-19 situation.

Cultural Care in the USA is communicating with au pairs who will have this opportunity.


Update on travel advice for au pairs travelling in May & June

Cultural Care au pairs from some countries will start travelling again in the coming weeks, we want to make sure that you have the information you need to keep yourself safe.

We advise all travelling au pairs to follow the advice as outlined by the CDC (check the advice here), or by their own country.

Make sure to follow these tips in particular:

  • Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds, especially if you have touched surfaces at the airport. It’s a good idea to carry hand sanitizer with you for when you cannot access soap and water
  • Keep a distance of 2 meters away from other people
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • We will provide you with a face mask – make sure to use it throughout your journey

Update on departures in May

Unfortunately, we have now had to cancel some departures in May due to COVID-19. We are reaching out to all au pairs who are impacted to inform them of their new travel date.

At Cultural Care we are very excited for our au pairs to start travelling in June!

We recommend that all au pairs who are travelling in June should talk to their host family on how they are social distancing in their home to be prepared before arrival.


Update on travelling in May

Because of the continuing efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19 there could be a further delay than May for au pairs to travel to the USA. We are doing our best so that our au pairs can travel on time, however, there are some factors which could temporarily delay your travel:

  • Travel restrictions in the US or in your home country – this may temporarily delay your travel into the USA or out of your home country. We continue to monitor the situation and will reach out to you should your planned travel dates be affected.
  • Visa appointments – if you do not already have your visa already travel will be delayed until you have it. Keep checking in with your embassy to get the first possible visa appointment.
  • Flight availability – Currently there are limited options for flights around the world, however once travel restrictions are lifted, we are hopeful that there will be an increase in flight availability. We have a dedicated team ready and waiting to book your flights as soon as possible.
  • Online Training School – Remember that you must have completed your training before departing to your host family – make sure to plan ahead so you can take part on your allocated dates

Every au pair’s situation is different, so some of these factors may affect you and some not. We are dedicated to getting you to the USA as soon as possible to start your au pair adventure!

Previous updates

Update on the extension of program term for au pairs in the USA

We are pleased to share that the U.S. Department of State has confirmed that due to the COVID-19 situation, they will extend the program term by two additional months for au pairs with a program end date between April 1 and May 31, 2020. Au pairs whose program ended in March and are still in the USA will also benefit from this change. This means that au pairs will be able to stay on the program and have additional time to finalize their travel plans to return home, without worrying about their visa status.

We are so pleased that the State Department has responded to the advocacy of program participants as well as the outreach of Cultural Care in the USA on behalf of our participants. The Department clearly recognizes this challenging time and has offered this flexibility to the program, for which we are so grateful.

Update we’re here for you online!

We’re here to support you online to make sure your au pair dreams a reality. In this time of crisis our teams are working from home to continue our mission of making the world a better place through cultural exchange. Reach out to us by phone, email, Facebook or Instagram, our team are waiting to hear from you!

Update on recommendations by the US State Department to arrivals to the USA

The US State Department has paused all federally funded exchange programs and asked that Cultural Care in the USA postpones the arrival of au pairs for 60 days. This means we will be pausing departures until the week of 11 May.

Cultural Care is following the recommendation of the US State Department to best support our au pairs and host families.

This does not impact au pairs ending their au pair experience and returning home.

We are reaching out to all affected au pairs and will be in touch about individual circumstances.

Update on Travel Restrictions for UK and Republic of Ireland

On 14 March the US Government announced that the UK and Republic of Ireland would be added to the travel restrictions previously introduced for the Schengen area.

We are reaching out to all affected au pairs.

Update on the US Government announcement on travel restrictions for EU/Schengen area individuals

On 11 March, the US Government announced that they would increase travel restrictions to include those who were in or had traveled to the Schengen area. The restriction was put in place for 30 days from Friday 13 March.

This has impacted some of our au pairs who we are in contact with while we try to rearrange their departure date.

Update to the Training School

We will be moving the Training School online from March 23! This is a temporary measure for the coming months to limit concerns about transmission of the virus and to keep our au pairs and host families as safe as possible.

Our Online Training School gives you the chance to complete your au pair training in the comfort of your own home, while still receiving a world class training experience. You’ll have the chance to connect with au pairs arriving in the USA at the same time as you—and interact in real time with our teachers during the sessions.

Check out our FAQs:

I am due to travel in the coming months

I already have my visa can I travel to the USA before the Executive Order is over?

Yes, you will be able to travel if you already have a visa for as long as that visa is valid! You will still need to wait for any travel restrictions to be lifted, but we aim to get you to the USA as soon as you are able.

Can I still travel to the USA while the Executive Order from 22nd June is in place?

If you already have your visa you will still be able to travel to the USA during the period of the Executive Order as long as your visa is valid and we are working hard so you can travel as soon as possible when travel bans are lifted. If you do not have a visa we will reach out to find another travel date that works for you, and to discuss your options.

We are dedicated to get you to the USA to start your au pair adventure as soon as possible!

What happens to my visa if my travel date changes?

In the case of the visa every au pair’s experience is different. The impact on your visa depends on your new departure date, the appointment availability at your embassy and your travel plans during your au pair experience. Please contact us to talk more about your individual situation.

My visa appointment got cancelled, what now?

Follow the guidelines provided by the embassy to book a new appointment. Please reach out to your local office with the new appointment date.

My host family decided to break the match with me, what does that mean?

This doesn’t stop you from making your au pair dreams come true. There are still a lot of amazing host families out there looking for an au pair. Reach out to your matching specialist who will support you in finding another great family that can welcome you.

What if I catch a cold (runny nose, sneezing, coughing) and/or a fever 3 weeks before my planned departure, what do I do?

Contact a doctor and check if you can travel. Make sure to follow the guidelines stated by your doctor if you are allowed to travel. Let us know if you have these symptoms within 3 weeks of your travel date.

Prior to your departure, you will be asked to start social distancing for 14 days.

How should I protect myself while I travel?

When you travel to the USA we recommend that you follow these guidelines to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds, especially if you have touched surfaces at the airport. It’s a good idea to carry hand sanitizer with you for when you cannot access soap and water
  • Keep a distance of 2 meters away from other people
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • We will provide you with a face mask – make sure to use it throughout your journey

What is the online Training School?

Due to the COVID-19/Coronavirus and social distancing developments worldwide we have moved our Training School experience online in order to better guarantee the safety of our au pairs and host families.

Our online Training School is a fun and interactive way to complete your au pair training. You will have interactive classes with our teachers, CPR training and one on one skills assessment, as well as virtual socials to connect with au pairs who will arrive to the USA at the same time as you.

What can I expect in terms of social distancing when I arrive to my host family?

Every host family will have their own response to social distancing–which is why you should talk to them before you travel. When you are picked up at the airport, you may not be greeted by the whole family, but don’t worry your host family will still be excited that you have arrived! Different states have different social distancing rules that your family will need to follow. Also be aware that some families may expect you to have a period of self-isolation when you first arrive whether in their home or at a hotel. We encourage you to ask your host family about their plan for self-isolation so you can prepare.

Can my host family ask me not to take vacation before arriving in the US?

No, however remember that the host family is concerned about your wellbeing and that this is an unexpected and unusual situation for everyone. Whilst they are still very happy to welcome you, they probably have some concerns about their children's health. Please be aware that as of March 11th 2020 you will not be allowed to travel to the US if you have visited the EU/Schengen area 14 days prior to your departure.

Can my host family ask me not to take vacation while in the US?

No, however remember that the host family is concerned about your wellbeing and that this is an unexpected and unusual situation for everyone, and they will have some concerns about their children's health. Keep an open communication with your host family and bear in mind that the situation will most likely change while you are in the US.

Can the US State Department extension program impact my travel?

Due to the extension program currently being offered to au pairs and host families in the USA, you may wonder if your departure will be affected.

We have sent an email and are reaching out to all au pairs whose host family have this option - if we are not in touch with you it means your travel plans are not impacted.

For those impacted, we recommend to talk to your host family to see what they are planning with their current au pair. Some host families may use this option to bridge the gap between your ability to arrive due to your own visa or travel restrictions.

If your match would cancel, we would support you matching with another great host family.

We will be in touch with you soon if you are impacted, but if you have questions, please contact us.

I am currently in matching

Am I still able to match with a host family due to the current Executive Order in place to restrict J-1 visa entry into the USA?

Yes! We still have many families looking for an au pair! Our host families plan ahead, so you can start talking to them already for a departure in the future. You will just need to select your earliest departure after December 2020.

Starting matching early means you have more chance to find a family that best suits you, and you can get to know them before you depart. We encourage all au pairs to match as early as they can!

Due to the current situation, can I move my requested earliest departure to a later date?

Yes, if you feel uncertain about your earliest departure date, please contact us to update your application.

What should I do if I am close to matching with a host family, but they don’t want to make a decision yet due to the current situation?

Keep in close contact with us at this time and continue communicating with your host family connections. This is an uncertain time for everyone so please be patient and spend the extra time getting to know each other better!

I am currently in matching but cannot travel after December 2020, what does it mean for me?

We will be reaching out to all au pairs who are currently matching with host families to talk about a delay to departure. If you are not able to travel after December 2020, we will discuss your options with you.

My exams have been postponed due to my school closing – can I still match with a host family?

Yes, if you are planning to join a host family after your rescheduled exams take place. Please be aware that it’s a US State Department requirement that all au pairs have graduated high school before joining their host family, so keep us updated regarding your new exam dates.

I am applying to be an au pair

Can I still apply as an au pair?

Yes you can! There are a lot of amazing host families out there looking for an au pair. We are still accepting applications and we will support you to make your au pair dream come true.

Are you still running information meetings?

Yes! We run online information meetings on a regular basis and you can check out the next dates on our website. We’re looking forward to talking with you!

My exams have been postponed due to my school closing – can I still send in my application?

Yes, if you are planning to join a host family after your rescheduled exams take place, please continue working on your application and keep us updated regarding your new exam dates. Take this extra time to work on your application, add a few more photos, or make an even better video!

Can I still apply even though my driver’s license test has been postponed?

Yes, please reach out to your local office and let them know about your new test date. Continue to work on your application while you wait, take the extra time to work on an even better video for your application!

I can’t get a medical note because my doctor is not available – what do I do?

Please continue to work on your application while you wait for the doctor to have an available appointment. Add a few more photos, or take all this extra time you have and work on an even better video for your application!

I am a parent

My daughter or son is travelling in the coming months, I have questions.

Please refer to the section above called I am due to travel in the coming months.

My daughter or son is currently in the US, I have questions!

We understand this is an uncertain time for you and your child. Cultural Care US is reaching out to all au pairs in the US to support them. This is information that has been provided to our au pairs in the USA:

Travel

We strongly discourage travel at this time. As you may be aware travel advisories and restrictions continue to be issued and updated, therefore, areas that are possible to travel to today may not be in the days and weeks ahead. In addition, please note that if you travel to an affected area (even with host family support) you may be subjected to new restrictions or conditions upon your return that could affect your ability to re-enter the country and successfully complete your program term. We encourage you to continue to monitor the websites below for up to date information.

Most importantly, speak with your host family about any travel plans you are considering. Discuss together if there are any considerations and risks that traveling would present including the inability to re-enter the U.S. It is also important to remember that your host family may have additional concerns and your decision to travel may have implications on having you continue to be their au pair.

Educational Requirement

We know that many educational courses already in progress will likely transition from classroom to online and that you should continue to attend the online classes and complete the course. If you successfully complete the course, it will count towards your educational requirement. It will temporarily be allowed for you to enroll in online classes if there are no other options available to you in your community. Please note that this is NOT a permanent change in policy on the educational component but is merely a temporary modification until such time as classroom offerings resume.

Monthly Meetings

Monthly meetings are a great opportunity to connect, ask questions, and get out into the community. However, should you or your host family have any concerns due to COVID-19, personal monthly contact may be conducted outside of your regular monthly meeting. This means that instead of meeting with your group, your LCC may offer video chats or phone calls. We encourage you to speak with your LCC if you have any questions or concerns.

Does my child's travel insurance cover medical costs associated with the Coronavirus?

With coverage from Erika Travel Insurance, our au pairs medical costs are covered. Please ask your child to reach out to Aetna directly with any specific coverage questions – they can find the details on Au Pair Help.

My daughter or son is due to return home in April or May, what does the U.S Department of State extension term mean for them?

It means they will be able to stay in the USA without needing to worry about their visa status for an additional two months on their current program term. This is still optional and would need to be agreed with your daughter or son and their host family.

See below the FAQs that Cultural Care in the USA shared with our au pairs:

Do I have to pay a fee to extend my program participation for an additional 2 months? No, neither host families nor au pairs will need to pay fees for this 2-month program extension.

When will I hear if this is an option for me? If the program end date for an au pair falls between April 1 and May 31, this is an option for you. If the end date for an au pair occurred in March and they are still in the U.S. and wish to remain, this can be an option for you. Au pairs should check the dates on their DS-2019 form to confirm their program end date.

What if my term ends in June, does this affect me? Can I extend too? No, the term is only for au pairs who have an end date in April or May. We will update you if this changes.

If I am reinstated for the additional 2 months, how does my 30-day grace period work? It is our understanding that the 30-day grace period will come at the end of the 2-month extension because that is the new end date of the program.

Will my insurance coverage continue during the additional 2 months? Yes, while au pairs remain active on the program AND during the 30-day grace period, insurance coverage will continue.

Will au pairs receive an updated DS-2019 form reflecting these new dates? Yes, we will prepare updated DS-2019 forms to reflect the updated end dates. We will send them as soon as we are able to do so which may take some time due to restricted access to our office by order of the Governor of Massachusetts.

If an au pair is already in her extension term, does this still apply? Yes, it applies to all active au pairs with a program end date in April or May, regardless of whether it is their first year or extension term.

Do all program regulations still apply during these additional 2 months? Yes, if an au pair extends for any length of time and continues on the program, all rules and regulations must be followed including stipend payment, daily and weekly work hour limitations, and time off.

What do I need to do to opt for the 2-month reinstatement? Please note that if the end date for an au pair (as detailed on their DS-2019 form) is between April 1 and May 31, 2020 there is no immediate action that needs to be taken. We will be reaching out in the coming days for confirmation from families and au pairs about their intention to continue forward for this extended time frame and to review any flight changes that may need to be made to accommodate the adjusted departure date. We will also be communicating directly with those au pairs who had an end date in March 2020 who are still in the U.S. and to determine whether they wish to avail themselves of this opportunity and how that will work moving forward.

We are currently working through additional details and will be in touch with more information once it is available. However, we know that learning of this initial update right away would be of great interest to all of you.