J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa
This visa is the best option for a family that does not have foreign nanny in mind that they plan on hiring. Nannies through the J-1 visa program are referred to as “au pairs,” and are selected through the Department of State (DOS) designated sponsor. These designated sponsors are members of an international network that hire and train the au pairs. The sponsors assist with the application process and match the au pair to a U.S. family.
If the family already knows a foreign nanny that they wish to hire (such as a friend or family member), then the J-1 visa is not the best option. If the foreign nanny becomes affiliated with one of the DOS sponsors, it can be possible. However, this is a difficult and timely option.
The DOS J-1 website provides useful information of the list of current sponsors, detailed description of the J-1 program, information on the application process, the U.S. family’s obligations to the foreign nanny and how the foreign nanny may qualify for the visa.