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Can a foreign nanny legally find work in the US?

In the United States, a family may legally hire a U.S. citizen, an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or an alien with a valid work permit. US employers are required to verify a candidate's employment eligibility using Form I-9. REPUTABLE agencies will not refer individuals to you for consideration who do not have valid work authorization. If you hire on your own or via an online job matching service such as, you are responsible to confirm that the candidate you wish to hire is legally eligible for work in the U.S.

The follow-up question usually is "How can the family help the foreign applicant obtain work authorization?" The answer, unfortunately, is that it is almost impossible for a foreign nanny applicant to obtain either an immigrant visa or a temporary work authorization in a timely manner. This process can take from many months to generally many years, longer than you or your children can wait.

Occasionally, a family locates a non-documented immigrant or foreign national without US work authorization and is willing to take the chance and hire them any way. Family's are encouraged to thoroughly evaluate this decision in advance. These individuals cannot obtain a US driver's license in many states. This is even more true in the wake of 9/11. Absent a valid driver's license, they can not legally drive your children or be added to your family automobile insurance. Additionally, most schools require government-issued proof of identity from adults before they will release a child to the adult, or even admit the adult to the school. These individuals often cannot legally authorize medical treatment for your children. This undocumented status can cause many headaches and some real dangers to the children.

IMPORTANT UPDATE APRIL 2005: New regulations issued by the US Department of Labor have upgraded the category for live in domestic workers from unskilled to skilled workers. Under the US quota system, this places the foreign applicant in a position where visas are currently available except for applicants from China, India and the Philippines. We have been advised that this DOES NOT apply to domestics already living and working in the US.

To Qualify:

  1. Applicant must have at least one year of experience as a household domestic worker.
  2. Applicant must be offered a full-time, permanent position in the US.
  3. The potential employer must apply for and receive approved Labor Certification from The Department of Labor.
  4. The employer must prove that your employment as a live in household worker is a business necessity.
  5. Employment offer must include a written contract and the wage paid must meet prevailing wage tests (for example no less than $8.48 per hour in Metro-DC or $339.20 for a 40 hour work week [7/1/2011]).
  6. All US employment law, including the payment of employment taxes, must be adhered to.

We are not offering specific legal advice; we recommend that employers interested in this contact an attorney specializing in immigration matters to discuss their individual circumstances. Our staff is not qualified to discuss visa and immigration matters with potential employers and applicants.

See Related Articles

HomeWork Solutions: Am I required to hire a U.S. Citizen? FAQ
HomeWork Solutions: Our nanny is not a legal resident. What do we do about employment taxes? FAQ
US Citizenship and Immigration Services
US Immigration Overseas Offices
US AU PAIR PROGRAMS - US Department of State
How Do I Get a U.S. Work Permit?: Information from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service.