Au Pair USA

What better way to immerse yourself into the all-American experience than to become part of a family for one year.  If you enjoy working with children and have some prior experience with them then Au Pair USA is for you!!!

As an Au Pair you will have the opportunity to experience American culture first hand by living with an American family and caring for their children. Anyone who has ever worked with children will know that it is not always easy, but it can be very rewarding.


What better way to immerse yourself into the all-American experience than to become part of a family for 12 months.  If you enjoy working with children and have some prior experience with them then Au Pair USA is for you!!!

As an Au Pair you’ll have the opportunity to experience American culture first hand by living with an American family and caring for their children. Anyone who has ever worked with children will know that it is not always easy, but it can be very rewarding.

As an Au Pair you will receive a set weekly wage for your childcare services, but you will also get an educational allowance that allows you to study as well  and you will have enough time to afford you lots of opportunities to meet new friends and explore the surroundings of your new American home. Being an Au Pair also has a unique advantage; you are considered part of the family rather than simply an employee.  As such you will develop a unique perspective about life in America.  There is no better way to learn about a different culture than to be completely immersed in it.  From everyday activities like going to the grocery store or eating dinner, to weekend trips or holiday gatherings, you will live the American life!

You will also get to know your community, visit new places on weekends and travel during your paid vacation. Your visa also gives you an extra month to travel throughout the United States at the end of your program. So whether you decide to explore the U.S. on your own or with friends you meet on the program, there are many adventures awaiting you.


Applicants for Au Pair USA must:

  • Have a sincere appreciation and like for Children
  • Be aged between 18 – 26 years old
  • Have completed matric.  (Some university education is preferred)
  • Be fluent in English
  • Have 200 hours (minimum) documented & verifiable childcare experience (equates to 5 weeks full time work)
  • Have 200 hours (minimum) documented & verifiable INFANT care experience (children under 2 years of age)
  • Have a clean criminal background check and be able to submit character references
  • Have a clean and valid driver’s license
  • Be physically and emotionally healthy
  • Open minded and positive
  • Able to work for minimum of 1 full year

Additional qualities that will enhance your application:

  • 500+ Hours of Childcare experience – the more you have the better!  Infant care experience is particularly desirable
  • Excellent driving record and more than 1 year of driving experience
  • Very positive child care references
  • Skills such as swimming, sports, cooking, music or greater knowledge of academics
  • Willingness to care for more than two children
  • “Open minded” attitude towards religion, race and single parent families
  • Formal childcare experience, child development and first aid training
  • Teaching, nursing or camp counselling experience

Factors that will make it more difficult for you to be matched with a host family:

  • Limited childcare experience (less than 200hours)
  • No infant childcare experience
  • You smoke or drink
  • No significant driving experience
  • Rigidity about where (location) and with whom you are placed
  • Willingness to to take care of one child only
  • Being in a serious romantic relationship

Season & Duration

It is possible to depart to the USA on the Au Pair program at any point in the year.  Placement typically takes place within 2-4 months of your application but depends on skills, experience and other factors.

The J1 visa valid for Au Pairs will allow you to work as an Au Pair (only) in the USA for up to 12 months.  All families require a minimum of 12 months commitment.  Following your work contract, you are also eligible for a 30 ‘grace period’ that will allow you to travel and sightsee across the USA.  It’s the ideal way to finish off your year in the United States!

And if you LOVE IT so much you don’t want to leave… You can extend your program for 6, 9 or 12 months. This would allow you to earn a bonus of $200, $275 and $350 respectively above your weekly wage.

Why Do Au Pair USA?

  • Experience Real American Culture on a personal level whilst living with a U.S. Family
  • Get paid to take care of children, share your culture and add value to their lives
  • Broaden your horizons through required studies and add this to your CV
  • Travel with your ‘New American Family’ on vacation during your stay in the USA
  • Become more independent and confident as you work & travel in a foreign country
  • Make lifelong friends


The Department of State requires that every au pair complete not less than six semester hours (or the equivalent) of academic credit in formal educational settings at accredited U.S. post-secondary institutions.  The educational component is an important part of the Au Pair program and your host family is required to provide you with up to $500 toward completing these educational credits.  This means that during your time in the United States, you’ll have an opportunity to take educational courses at a post-secondary school or community college. Attending an American college is a great way to meet new people and learn new topics.


Since you’ll be in the USA for a full year, you should have the opportunity to see and experience a good deal of the country both with your new family and independently.  Visit the scenic wonders of America: the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Yosemite National Park, or the Rocky Mountains. Head off to some of America’s most vibrant cities: New York City, New Orleans, Washington DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, or San Francisco. Or maybe you’d like to see a baseball game, check out a jazz club, visit an American Indian reservation or tour Universal Studios – the possibilities of what you can experience as an Au Pair are endless!


As an Au Pair, you are responsible for providing up to 45 hours per week of childcare services to your new American Family. Your childcare duties will take up no more than 10 hours per day and 5 ½ days a week, leaving you with 1.5 days off per week and at least 1 weekend off per month. Lots of time to be able to explore your city, meet with other au pairs and study.  All Au Pair duties will be focused specifically on the children; no heavy housework, gardening or caring for pets is required.

Some of your daily tasks may include:

  • Waking the children, dressing infants and toddlers, bathing and playing games with them
  • Preparing meals for the children, tidying their belongings, making their beds and doing their Laundry
  • Driving the children to or from school appointments and activities
  • Caring for & watching the children while they are asleep if parents are not at home
  • Sharing a part of your home country with the children through games, storytelling, cooking, language & love!

The Placement Process

A great deal goes into the placement of our Au Pairs to ensure that we find you the best possible match!  This process starts with your application and as such its vital to ensure that you complete it fully and with as much attention to detail as possible.  If your application is weak in any area Chilli Adventures will advise you on how to improve it so that your chances of placement are better.  This could include getting additional child care experience.  Only once your application is of a sufficient level will Chilli Adventures invite you in for a full interview and psychometric test to determine your suitability for acceptance.

Chilli Adventures work with co-operating agents in the US who’s job it is to find a host family for you.  This host family also completes an extensive application and goes through a strict vetting process similar to yours.  Once accepted Chilli Adventures cooperating agents start the placement process and your application will be circulated amongst approved families.  When a family is interested in your application, they will contact you at a time convenient with you and run through a series of questions.  You will also be encouraged to ask questions.  Once a match is made Chilli Adventures will be notified and we willl contact you to start to make arrangements for your visa, flights, departure and attendance at the 4 day arrival orientation.

Arrival Orientation and Adjustment process

Chilli Adventures co-operating agents in the USA hold arrival orientations in Washington, D.C. With an on site Orientation Trainer who will meet the Au Pairs upon arrival at the hotel, conduct training sessions, and assist throughout the orientation.

The Orientation Trainer will conduct 32 hours + of training which may include the following:

  • CPR/Infant first aid
  • Child safety, child development and childcare
  • Review of the Au Pair Handbook and DoS regulations
  • Review of the “What to Expect…” childcare book
  • Car safety and road safety
  • In depth information on American culture and adjustment period
  • Use of videos for training purposes
  • Question and answer period at the end of each day

The orientation hours are approximately 8 hours/day. The evenings will be free for the Au Pair participants. It is recommended that the Au Pair bring a minimum of $200 USD to use as pocket money toward dinners.

Included as part of the programs arrival orientation:

  • Hotel accommodation with 2-3 Au Pairs per room
  • Breakfast and lunch (you are responsible for dinner expenses)
  • Supervision and ongoing support by on site Orientation Trainer inc provision of guidance, counseling and support as needed.
  • Welcome packet
  • Opportunity to meet other Au Pair participants.
  • Transportation to host family

Arrival and adjustment period

Adjustment into an new situation or environment can be challenging, but you’ll be provided with lots of support.  Expectations will be outlined, you’ll have facilitated meetings with Chilli Adventures local placement agents on the ground throughout your placement, but particularly in the first 2-3 months of your placement.  If you experience any issues, you’ll have lots of help and guidance at hand.

How do I Apply?

To get more program information or apply, its as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Ensure you’re read through all program details.  Its vital that you understand the eligibility requirements of the program and the costs involved in terms of program fees as well as start up costs.
  2. Complete the Contact Form and agree to Program T’s & C’s
  3. Depending on the program selected, you’ll be contacted by either Chilli Adventures or one of our program partners who will give you details on availability and guide you through the application process

Note:  A great deal goes into the application process for a work and travel program; on the part of both the applicant and program administrator.  Ensure you understand the program and all requirements ahead of signing up and making application or course fee payments.

Terms & Conditions

Please speak to your Chilli Adventures Program co-ordinator for program specific terms and conditions.

Program Costs

The program fees payable to Chilli Adventures for Au Pair USA are as follows:

  • Application Deposit – R950 – Payable prior to interview.  Fully refunded if not accepted onto the program
  • Program Fees – R1950 – Payable following interview and acceptance
  • Good Faith Deposit* – $500 – Payable upon placement and refunded upon program completion

*  Note: Prices may change in line with cooperating agents and / or currency fluctuations.  Please read Program Terms & Conditions for full details.


Your Program Fees to Chilli Adventures include:

  • Interview and full personality profile required by J1 sponsor and host family to ensure the perfect match
  • Fee to US based J1 visa agent for DS-2019 Cultural Exchange visa sponsorship allowing you to apply for a J1 work visa
  • US SEVIS Fee payment of $35 and SEVIS Validation service in the USA
  • SEVIS – Student and Exchange Volunteer Information System
  • Placement with a US family matched to you, your skills, personality and requests.  All families are thoroughly screened so you can rest assured that your experience will be unrivaled.
  • Application and US Visa processing assistance
  • Comprehensive Work and Travel Medical Insurance for full duration of your contract
  • PDOM (Pre-Departure Orientation Meeting) covering all essentials vital to a successful trip including SEVIS validation, immigration processes, social security application, packing, insurance and US Overseas support
  • Partner discounts (on flights, SIM cards, merchandise and more)
  • 24 Hour Emergency Help and Support in South Africa & the USA
  • FREE International Return ticket from South Africa to Washington DC.  Your US J1 sponsor will book and pay for your flight once your placement has been made.
  • FREE Domestic ticket to the local area of your host family.
  • Three Day arrival Orientation in Washington  DC.  This includes full first Aid and CPR training as well as giving you important program details and support.
  • Assistance with getting your US drivers license & social security card, and help with other practical matters.
  • Monthly local meetings in the USA.  Arranged by a local co-ordinator with other Au Pairs and including fun tours and trips.
  • Opportunity to work full or part time for Chilli Adventures upon return to SA
  • Program reference

Additional Costs

In addition to the program fees that you pay to Chilli, you must also factor in the following additional costs:

  • US Consulate Visa Processing Fee ($160)
  • Additional Insurance if required (approx. $40)
  • Spending Money for use upon arrival (approx. $200-$500)

* Note: Prices may change in line with cooperating agents and / or currency fluctuations.  Please read Program Terms & Conditions for full details.

Expected Earnings

What you get whilst working as an Au Pair in the USA:

  • Wage of $195.75 per week from the host family
  • Your own private room and full board (all meals etc)
  • Regular schedule social & cultural activities with other au pairs in your area
  • $500 Study Allowance to be used towards six credits of higher education classes at a college or university in your area.
  • Minimum time off: 14 days paid vacation, 1.5 days off per week and 1 weekend off per month.
  • 45 working hours MAX per week (max. 10 hours a day)
  • The experience of a Lifetime and a whole new US Family!

If you have sufficient experience with Infants you may qualify for the Infant Care Bonus! This is a $500 bonus that is paid to you upon successful completion of your 12 month program.

And if you LOVE IT so much you don’t want to leave… You can extend your program for 6, 9 or 12 months. This would allow you to earn a bonus of $200, $275 and $350 respectively above your weekly wage.

Cost of Living

Most of your arrival orientation costs are covered and so start up costs are low.  We recommend that you take over between $200-$500 for dinners during orientation and for any personal items you may need.  Once you’re with your host family room and board are covered so you’ll need very little spending money.  Personal items for your own expense include phone calls, time off activities and gas for the family car if allowed for personal use.

Lots of questions buzzing through your head? This may help you out!

Q: Can I as an Au Pair get a additional job whilst in the US?

A:  No, a Au Pair cannot work in any capacity outside of the duties specified in the Au Pair program regulations while residing in the U.S. on the J-1 visitor exchange visa under Au Pair sponsorship.

Q:  How much experience with Children do I really need??

A:  You MUST have a minimum of 200 hours of documented & verifiable childcare experience (equates to 5 weeks full time work).  We recommend however that you have 500+ hours or in addition, 200 hours of INFANT care experience since this will enhance your application significantly

Q:  I have lots of experience with kids but I cant drive, can I still apply?

A:  Unfortunately not.  Host families will require that you have a drivers license so that you can take the kids to school / creche or to other activities.

Q:  The Study aspect of Au Pairing is awesome!  Am I restricted by what I study?  Does it have to relate to kids?

A: There are no restrictions at all.  You can study whatever you are interested in.