US Domestic Employee Visa
Personal or domestic servants who are accompanying or following an employer to the United States may be eligible for B-1 visas. This category of domestic employees includes, but is not limited to, cooks, butlers, chauffeurs, housemaids, valets, footmen, nannies, au pairs, mothers’ helpers, gardeners, and paid companions.
Those accompanying or following to join an employer who is a foreign diplomat or government official may be eligible for an A-3 or G-5 visa, depending upon their employer’s visa status.
If you are a domestic employee and wish to apply for a B-1 visa, you must demonstrate that:
- The purpose of your trip is to enter the United States for work as a domestic employee
- You plan to remain in the U.S. for a specific, limited period of time
- Your employer meets certain qualifications
- You have evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad
- You have a residence outside the United States as well as other binding ties that will ensure you return abroad at the end of your contract.
Travelling with a Non-immigrant Visa Holder
If you are a domestic employee and wish to accompany or join an employer who is not a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, and who seeks admission to, or who is already in, the United States under a B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, Q, or R non-immigrant visa then you may be eligible for a B-1 visa classification, provided:
- You have at least one year’s experience as a personal or domestic employee as attested to by statements from previous employers
- You have been employed outside the United States by your employer for at least one year prior to the date of your employer’s admission to the United States, or
- Your employer-employee relationship existed immediately prior to the time of your employer’s application, and your employer can demonstrate that he/she regularly employed (either year-round or seasonally) domestic help over a period of years preceding the time their application
- You will have no other work, and will receive free room and board and round trip airfare from your employer as indicated under the terms of the employment contract
Accompanying an American Citizen
- Personal or domestic employees who are accompanying or following to join U.S. citizen employers temporarily assigned to the United States may be eligible for a B-1 visa classification provided that:
(1) The employee has a residence abroad which he or she has no intention of abandoning;
(2) The alien has been employed abroad by the employer as a personal or domestic servant for at least six months prior to the date of the employer’s admission to the United States OR the employer can show that while abroad the employer has regularly employed a domestic servant in the same capacity as that intended for the applicant;
(3) The employee can demonstrate at least one year experience as a personal or domestic servant by producing statements from previous employers attesting to such experience; and
(4) The employee is in possession of an original contract or a copy of the contract, to be presented at the port of entry, which contains the original signatures of both the employer and the employee.
- The U.S. citizen employer is subject to frequent international transfers lasting two years or more as a condition of the job as confirmed by the employer’s personnel office and is returning to the United States for a stay of no more than six years. The employer will be the only provider of employment to the domestic employee, and will provide the employee free room and board and a round trip airfare as indicated under the terms of the employment contract; and
- The required employment contract has been signed and dated by the employer and employee and contains a guarantee from the employer that, in addition to the provisions listed in item (b) above, the employee will receive the minimum or prevailing wages whichever is greater for an eight hour work-day. The employment contract must also reflect any other benefits normally required for U.S. domestic workers in the area of employment. The employer will give at least two weeks’ notice of his or her intent to terminate the employment, and the employee need not give more than two weeks’ notice of intent to leave the employment.
Note: You cannot qualify for a B-1 visa if the United States citizen will reside permanently in the United States, even if you have previously been employed by the United States citizen abroad.
Accompanying a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident
U.S. Legal Permanent Residents (Green card holders) are not permitted to bring their domestic workers to the United States on a B-1 visa under any circumstances.
Contract Requirements for B-1 Visa Holders
As a domestic employee applying for a B-1 visa, you must present an employment contract, signed by both you and your employer, which includes:
- A description of your duties in the U.S.
- The number of hours you will work each week
- The number of authorized holidays, vacation and sick days per year
- The regular day(s) off each week
- The rate of pay, which must be at least the prevailing or minimum wage per hour under Federal law (whichever is greater) where you will be employed for all hours of duty. Current minimum wages throughout the U.S. are found here and currently prevailing wages can be found here.
- A certification that you will receive free room and board
- A certification that your employer will ensure that you do not become a public charge while working for your employer
- A certification that you will not accept any other employment while working for your employer
- A certification that your employer will not withhold your passport
- A certification that both parties understand that you cannot be required to remain on the premises after working hours without compensation
- A certification that your employer will pay your initial travel expenses to the U.S. and subsequently to your employer’s onward assignment, or to your country of normal residence at termination.
Accompanying an A-1, A-2, or G-1 – G-4 Visa Holder (A-3 or G-5 Visas)
If you are the attendant, servant, or personal employee of someone classified A-1 or A-2 or G-1 through G-4 then you are entitled to the appropriate A-3 or G-5 classification. You must demonstrate entitlement to an A-3 or G-5 classification (e.g., letter of reference from a former employer, evidence of previous employment in that sector, etc.). Consular officers must establish the official status of the employer and the intent of both parties to enter into (or remain in) an employer-employee relationship. In addition, domestic helpers of diplomats (A3) and international organization employees (G5), must first be registered with the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Mission Management Information System (TOMIS) before applying for a visa. For details of TOMIS registration please contact the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions.
A-3 and G-5 visa applicants must be interviewed by a consular officer. They must follow the normal application procedures for the general public, including scheduling an interview.
The consular officer must be satisfied that the wage to be received by the A-3 or G-5 applicant is a fair wage comparable to that offered in the area of employment and sufficient to overcome public charge concerns. Applications for such visas must include an employment contract signed by the employer and the employee.
Contract Requirements for A-3/G-5 Visa Holders
As a domestic employee applying for an A-3 or G-5 visa, you must present an employment contract, signed by both you and your employer, which includes:
- A guarantee that you will be compensated at the state or federal minimum or prevailing wage, whichever is greater. Current minimum wages throughout the U.S. are found here and currently prevailing wages can be found here.
- A statement that after the first 90 days of employment, all wage payments must be made by check or by electronic transfer to your bank account. Neither the employer nor their family members should have access to your bank accounts.
- When the employer is a foreign diplomat, live-in domestic helpers, under prevailing practice, receive free room and board in addition to their salary
- A promise by you not to accept any other employment while working for your employer
- A promise by your employer to not withhold your passport and a statement indicating that both parties understand that you cannot be required to remain on the premises after working hours without compensation
- The contract is essential to the process in that it provides you with a framework within which you may personally seek certain employment or human rights protections. Your employer must pay your initial travel expenses to the United States and subsequently to your employer’s onward assignment, or to your country of normal residence at the termination of the assignment.
To apply for a B-1, A-3 or G-5 visa, you must submit the following:
- A Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form.
- A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in your passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
- One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph.
- For B-1 applicants only: A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable non-immigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount i
- A-3 and G-5 applicants are not required to pay application fees.
- A copy of your employer’s visa or other method they will use to enter the United States (their Visa Waiver country passport or U.S. passport)
- An employment contract, signed by both you and your employer, which meets all requirements listed above.
- For A-3 and G-5 applicants only: A Note Verbale confirming the employment status of the principal, the date of departure, the purpose of the trip and the length of stay in the United States. The Note Verbale should list the name of the employee and give the employer’s title or official status. It should also specify the date of departure, and the purpose of the trip and length of stay in the United States.
In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.
Supporting documents are only one of many factors a consular officer will consider in your interview. Consular officers look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors during adjudication. Consular officers may look at your specific intentions, family situation, and your long-range plans and prospects within your country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.
Caution: Do not present false documents. Fraud or misrepresentation can result in permanent visa ineligibility. If confidentiality is a concern, you should bring your documents to the Embassy or Consulate in a sealed envelope. The Embassy/Consulate will not make your information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of your information.
You should bring the following documents to your interview:
- Proof of your employer’s ability to pay the promised wage.
- Note: If you are applying for an A-3 or G-5 visa, this only applies if the employer holds a diplomatic rank of counselor or below.
- Evidence establishing that your stay in the United States will be temporary.