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Home > Immigration Law > Visas For Nannies, Housekeepers And Domestic Workers

Domestic Employee Visa in Los Angeles, CA

Hiring Foreign Nannies, Housekeepers and Domestic Workers

If you are an individual looking to hire a foreign nanny, housekeeper or other domestic employee, there are a few options available to you. The best option might depend whether you want the employee to work for you on a temporary or permanent basis.

Permanent Residence

Many families with small children would like to hire a nanny or housekeeper on a full-time and permanent basis. In order to do so, you would have to petition the foreign employee for a green card or lawful permanent residence. This process involves three separate steps: PERM (ETA Form 9089), immigrant petition (Form I-140) and adjustment of status (Form I-485) or consular processing, depending where the applicant is residing.

The PERM process requires an employer to first place advertisements in newspapers to ensure that there is no other U.S. worker available and qualified for the position. If any qualified candidates apply, the employer must interview and hire them. If there are no qualified candidates, then the employer can file a PERM application with the Department of Labor (“DOL”). A PERM application is usually approved within 2-4 months. Then the employer can file the immigrant petition, form I-140, to make sure that the foreign worker is qualified for the position. Again, an I-140 application should be approved rather quickly if all the requirements are met.

However, the last step – adjustment of status or consular processing – if often where the employer will experience years of delay. Nannies, housekeepers, and other household workers are classified as “unskilled workers,” not requiring any college degree or special skills. They are thus placed in the Employment Based Third Preference Category (EB-3) for unskilled or other workers. Because only a certain number of visas are available for this category every year, there is currently a three-year backlog for most counties, and even longer for China, India and the Philippines. Applicants from China and India are now more than ten years behind in processing, with applications filed in 2003 being processed in June 2014. One can check the U.S. Department of State visa bulletin to see how long of a delay could be expected in the EB-3/other worker category.

An employer not only has to wait for a visa number to become available in the visa bulletin, but to also make sure that he or she complies with all immigration laws, employment and tax laws. If the employee is already employed in the household, then the employer should check with an accountant to make sure that all taxes are paid and all immigration paperwork, such as an I-9 Form, are completed.

Temporary Visas

There are some options available if an employer wants to hire a foreign household worker on a temporary basis only. This means that the worker will only be here on a temporary visa and would most likely have to return to his or her home country once the employment is over.

The first option is under the J-1 exchange visitor visa, where a family would file an application for an “au pair.” A J-1 visa is valid for one year, and it can be extended for another year (for two years maximum). It is easier if an employer petitioning an au pair if he or she does not have a particular person in mind for the position. He or she must work with the U.S. Department of State and a designated sponsor, who will match the family with an appropriate nanny.

An au pair must speak English, be a high school graduate, and be between 18 and 26 years of age. He or she must also pass a background check. The nanny will be living with the host family during his or her time in the U.S. The host family must provide adequate accommodations, undergo a background check, show that it has the resources to pay the au pair, and consist of U.S. citizens or green card holders. There are also strict regulations as to how long an au pair can work and the age of the children under the au pair’s care.

If you already know the particular person you want to petition as a nanny or temporary household worker, the best option might be an H-2B temporary visa. With an H-2B visa, an employer must also place ads, to show that there is no U.S. worker available for the position, and obtain a temporary labor certification from the Department of Labor. The employer then can petition the nanny directly with immigration using Form I-129. He or she must pay the domestic worker the wage set by the U.S. Department of Labor.

H-2B visas are limited to 66,000 per year, and in recent years this type of visa has become extremely popular for seasonal workers in the hotel and tourism industry, therefore it is likely that a visa might not be available when an employer is ready to petition for a household employee. H-2B visas also have to be temporary and seasonal in nature, meaning that an employer has to show that in any particular year, the household worker will be working for him or her for less than 12 months. The maximum period of stay on an H-2B visa is three years, but again a worker cannot remain in the U.S. and work continuously the whole time, because then the position is not seasonal in nature.

Non-Immigrant Visa Employers

Certain employers entering the U.S. on non-immigrant visas can bring their domestic employees in the United States. These visas include non-immigrant employers entering with a B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, Q, R, TN, A, G, or NATO visas. In order to qualify, the employee must have worked for the employer outside the U.S. for at least one year, and the employer must provide the employee with pay, housing and round trip airfare.

Bringing a household employee to the U.S. requires a lot of work and specialized knowledge of U.S. immigration laws. We encourage you to contact our office so we can advise you of the best options given your individual needs, in order to avoid unnecessary delays, costs and frustration.

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