Domestic Employee Visa

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Overview

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.

Qualifications

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.

Accompanying a Nonimmigrant 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 nonimmigrant 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 of 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

If you are a domestic employee and wish to accompany or join your U.S.-citizen employer in the United States then may be eligible for the B-1 visa classification if your American employer ordinarily resides outside the United States and is traveling to the United States temporarily, or your U.S.-citizen employer is subject to frequent international transfers lasting two years or more and who, as a condition of employment, is going to reside in the United States for a stay not to exceed four years.

In addition:

  • Your employer-employee relationship must have existed for at least 6 months prior to your employer's admission to the United States or, alternatively, your employer has regularly employed a domestic servant in the same capacity while abroad
  • You have at least one year of experience as a personal or domestic employee as attested to by statements from previous employers
  • 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

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.

Application Items

To apply for a B-1, A-3 or G-5 visa, you must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information about the DS-160.
  • 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. This page has information about the required photo format.
  • For B-1 applicants only: A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. This page has more information about paying this fee. 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 is.
    • 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 through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

How to Apply

    Step 1
    If you are applying for an A-3 or G-5 visa, [insert post instructions]. If you are applying for a B-1 visa, pay the visa application fee and follow steps 2 through 4. Pay the visa application fee.

    Step 2
    Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.

    Step 3
    Schedule your appointment on this web page. You will need three pieces of information in order to schedule your appointment:

    • Your passport number
    • Your MRV fee payment receipt number
    • The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page

    Step 4
    Visit the U.S. Embassy/Consulate on the date and time of your visa interview. You will need to bring a printed copy of your appointment letter, your DS-160 confirmation page, one recent photograph, your current passport and all old passports. Applications without all of these items will not be accepted.

Supporting Documents

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 in a sealed envelope. The Embassy 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.

Rights and Protections for Temporary Workers in the United States

Learn and know about your rights and protections as a temporary worker in the United States.
Read more here.

Rights and Protections for Temporary Workers in the United States

For more information about A-3, B-1, and G-5 visas, visit the Department of State's website.