First things first, make sure you ENJOY children… Yes, you get to live in another country and travel but the main reason you will be there is to do your job which is to watch over someone else’s child. Once you know that this is something you are truly interested in pursuing then it’s time to start the long process!
- Find an au pair agency or do it yourself!
I chose to use https://www.aupair-world.net/ in order to connect with my current host family and I would recommend the site to anyone interested! It was extremely easy to use and I loved the feature where it would send me an e-mail when I received an inquiry from another family. I originally was going to go through scotia personnel to find a family but their procedure was a lot more work than i had hoped for and honestly, I was able to do everyone on my own anyways and saved the agency fee of $600.
- Do your research
Make sure you know where you are willing to travel and learn about the country and if it appeals to you. For me I knew I wanted to go to a country where French or English were their official languages because those are what are used here in Canada and would be beneficial for when I return. I chose to turn away a few families from the Netherlands and Spain because I knew that I didn’t want to learn a third language at this point in my life.
Look into the requirements for the particular country you plan on working in because they will vary from place to place. In France for instance, you have to be between the ages of 18-30, be single without children, be willing to enroll in French lessons, and be able to pay for your own travel costs.
- Start communicating to families
In the beginning I messaged any family that was of interest to me because I felt I wanted to have the most opportunities possible instead of just focusing on one family. I emailed back and forth with quite a few families and even skyped some which made it easier to communicate. Once I found the family that I knew I wanted to work for we went over important details such as working hours, days off, etc. We started skyping back and forth each week just to check in and to make sure both sides were still on the same page.
- The not-so-fun contract
First make sure that you have a valid passport in your own country or you will not get much further in this process, and passports can take a while to get!
Come to an agreement with your host family on your working hours, days off, what they will be paying for, transportation, etc. They will formulate a contract which will need to be signed by both parties in order to be sent to the DIRECCTE. My host father created a contract and I reviewed it through PDF then when I agreed with the conditions he mailed me 4 copies of it which I then signed and sent back to France along with
- A health certificate from my doctor stating I’m “healthy”
- My latest diploma from school (college graduation)
- A copy of my passport
- A motivation letter written in French stating who I am and why I want to come into France to work as an au pair
During this time I spontaneously bought my one way ticket to Paris because I saw a good price and didn’t want to let it get away. I would suggest buying it as soon as you know for sure that you are going to go, because the prices will rise.
I also used Facebook to connect with other au pairs that are going to Paris in September! I was really nervous int he beginning about going to a new country and not knowing anyone but through facebook groups I’ve been able to connect with dozens of other people in the same situation! There’s also so many events posted for au pairs and expats in the area which i’m really looking forward to attending!
- Almost There!
Your host family will take your documents to the DIRECCTE and wait for them to be stamped. They say that it can take up to two weeks but luckily it only took 3-4 days for mine! During this process you should enroll in French lessons in the area you will be living because you will need an enrollment letter to apply for your visa.
Once your contract has been approved your host family will mail your documents back to you so you can further go your visa application process. For me I had to deal with the France consulate in Montreal and let me tell you… they are not the easiest people to get a hold of, nor the friendliest.
Depending on where you are located the consulate will be different and the regulations of what is needed for the process could vary. This is the link to the Montreal consulate which the list of documents that I had to send http://www.consulfrance-montreal.org/Visa-for-family-live-in-caregiver . I know of a lot of people who had to book an appointment in order to process their application but in my situation I only had to mail it to their office, along with an Xpresspost envelope ($20 dollars later) so they can return my passport, and important documents.
- Waiting time!
Now that you have sent off your documents along with your signed contract you can relax and wait for your visa to be approved (fingers crossed)
Once you arrive in France you will need to get registered with the OFII within 3 months of your arrival. You should have sent the OFII form along with your visa application which will be what you need to get certified in France.
I decided to create this procedure list because I think it would have been extremely helpful for me to have something when I was going through the process myself. I found it really confusing and would have liked to have been able to at least have an outline of how to go about completing the steps.