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What is the difference between a nanny and an au pair?

The International Nanny Association defines a nanny as an individual "employed by a family on either a live-in or live-out basis to undertake all tasks related to the care of children. Duties are generally restricted to childcare and the domestic tasks related to childcare. Nanny's work week ranges from 40 to 60 hours per week. Usually works unsupervised." Nannies vary in age and experience. There has been a marked increase in the last decades in the numbers of professional nannies, nannies who are in the field as a career, not as a temporary stop gap while they decide on college, other work, etc.

An au pair is a young foreign student on a cultural exchange program entering this country on a J-1 visa. An au pair works no more than 45 hours a week and the stay in this country is generally limited to one year. A small portion of au pairs are classified as elite au pairs and qualify for a two year visa. The visas are non-renewable. The stated purpose of the au pair program is one of cultural exchange. The child care experience of the au pair is generally limited and families are often not able to check the au pairs references themselves. The au pair cannot have sole charge of a child under 3 months of age. They must have specific, verified training and experience to provide sole charge care for children under 2 years and special needs children. Other program restrictions apply.