Domestic Employee Visa

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. American citizens who are returning permanently to the United States are not eligible to bring back a domestic employee. 

Qualifications
B-1 Visa

For a B-1 visa, domestic employees must demonstrate that:

  • The purpose of their trip is to enter the United States for work as a domestic employee;
  • They plan to remain for a specific, limited period;
  • They have a residence outside the United States as well as compelling social and economic ties abroad that will ensure their return at the end of the contract.

Please note that 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. Consular officers may consider the applicant’s specific intentions, family situations, and long-term plans and prospects within his or her 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 of concern, the applicant should bring the documents to the Embassy in a sealed envelope. The Embassy will not make this information available to anyone and will respect the confidentiality of the information.

Accompanying a Nonimmigrant Visa Holder

Domestic employees accompanying or following to 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 in B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, Q, or R nonimmigrant status may be eligible for the B-1 visa classification provided:

  1. The domestic employee has at least one year's experience as a personal or domestic servant as attested to by statements from previous employers;
  2. The employee has been employed outside the United States by the employer for at least one year prior to the date of the employer's admission to the United States, or
  3. The employer-employee relationship existed immediately prior to the time of application, and the employer can demonstrate that he has regularly employed (either year-round or seasonally) domestic help over a period of years preceding the time of application
  4. The employee will have no other work, and will receive from the employer free room and board and round trip airfare 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.

To qualify, the U.S. citizen employer must be 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 (2) above, the employee will receive the minimum or prevailing wages whichever is greater, for work in the United States.  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.

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 B1 Domestic Employee Work Contract

FOR CONTRACT IN ENGLISH, CLICK HERE

Domestic employee B-1 applicants must present an employment contract, signed by both the employer and the employee, including:

  • A description of the duties in the U.S.;
  • The number of hours to be worked each week (minimum 40 hours per work 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 the applicant 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 the domestic employee will receive free room and board;
  • A certification that the employer will ensure that the domestic helper does not become a public charge while working for the employer;
  • A certification that the domestic helper will not accept any other employment while working for the employer;
  • A certification that the employer will not withhold the passport of the domestic helper;
  • A certification that both parties understand that the domestic helper cannot be required to remain on the premises after working hours without compensation;
  • A certification that the employer will pay the domestic helper’s initial travel expenses to the U.S., and subsequently to the employer’s onward assignment, or to the domestic helper’s country of normal residence at termination.

Bringing Employers’ Passport & Visa

Domestic employee B-1 applicants must bring a copy of their employers’ (both spouses, if a couple) passports and visas or other method they will use to enter the United States (their Visa Waiver country passport or U.S. passport).

A-3 and G-5 Visas

An applicant who is the attendant, servant, or personal employee of someone classified A-1 or A-2 or G-1 through G-4 is entitled to the appropriate A-3 or G-5 classification. They 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

  • A description of duties
  • A statement that the domestic employee shall work ONLY for the employer who signed the contract and will not accept any othe reemployment while working for the employer in the United States
  • Specify the time of the normal working hours and the number of hours per week. It is generally expected that domestic workers will be required to work 35-40 hours per week
  • Must state the domestic employee will be provided a minimum of one full day off each week; must indicate the number of paid holidays, sick days and vacation days provided to the domestic employee
  • A guarantee the employee will be compensated at the state or federal minimum or prevailing wage, whichever is greater. View current minimum wages throughout the U.S. here and current prevailing wages here. (Please note that the consular officer must be satisfied that domestic helpers will receive free room and board);
  • Must state hourly rate for overtime as required by U.S local laws.
  • Must state the domestic employee will be paid either weekly or biweekly. No deductions are allowed for meals, lodging, medical care, medical insurance, or travel.
  • A statement that after the first 90 days of employment, all wage payments must be made by check or by electronic transfer to the domestic worker’s bank account. Neither the employer nor their family members should have access to domestic worker bank accounts. The employer must retain records of employment nad payment for three years after the termination of the employment.
  • Must state that the domestic employee will be provided with free transportation to and from the United States.
  • Must state that the employer agrees to abide by all Federal, State, and local laws in the United States.
  • A statement by the employer to not withhold the passport and visa of the employee; and a statement indicating that both parties understand that the employee cannot be required to remain in the employer’s residence after working hours without compensation
  • Must state that a copy of the contract and other personal property of the domestic employee will not be withheld by the employer for any reason
  • Other recommended terms of employment, if any, provided they are fully consistent with all U.S. Federal, State and local laws, and any modification to the contract must be in writing.

Application Items

Each domestic employee applicant for a B-1, A-3 or G-5 visa must submit the following:

  • A Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. Visit the DS-160 webpage for more information.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond the applicant's intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions). If more than one person is included in the passport, each person desiring a visa must submit an application.
  • 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 the employer and the employee, meeting all requirements listed above.

 

(CLICK HERE TO VIEW A SAMPLE TEMPLATE OF A B1 DOMESTIC EMPLOYEE WORK CONTRACT FOR THE U.S. IN ENGLISH)

  • One (1) 2x2 inch photograph.
  • For B-1 applicants only: A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. Please visit this page for information about paying this fee. If the visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on the applicant's nationality. Please consult the Visa Reciprocity Tables to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
    Note: A-3 and G-5 applicants are not required to pay application fees.
  • 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, every applicant must present an interview appointment letter confirming that they have booked an appointment through this service. Applicants may also bring whatever supporting documents they feel are necessary to support the information they are providing to the consular officer, for example evidence which shows the purpose of the trip, intent to depart the United States, and arrangements made to cover the costs of the trip. Those applicants who do not have sufficient funds to support themselves while in the U.S. must present convincing evidence that an interested person will provide support. Depending on individual circumstances, applicants may provide other documentation substantiating the trip's purpose and specifying the nature of binding obligations, such as family ties or employment, which would compel their return abroad.

 

Supporting Documents

  • Proof of the employer's ability to pay the promised wage. Note: If 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 the applicant's stay in the United States will be temporary.
  • If your employer is married, you are required to bring the passport data pages and visas for both your employer and your employer's spouse.

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