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.

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;
  • Their employer meets certain qualifications;
  • They have evidence of compelling social and economic ties abroad; and
  • They have a residence outside the United States as well as other binding ties that will ensure their return abroad at the end of the contract.
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:

  • The domestic employee has at least one year's experience as a personal or domestic servant as attested to by statements from previous employers;
    1. 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
    2. 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
  • 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

Domestic employees who are accompanying or following to join their U.S. citizen employer in the United States may be eligible for the B-1 visa classification if their American employer ordinarily resides outside the United States and is traveling to the United States temporarily, or the 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:

  • The employer-employee relationship must have existed for at least 6 months prior to the employer's admission to the United States or, alternatively, that the employer has regularly employed a domestic servant in the same capacity while abroad;
  • The employee has had at least one year experience as a personal or domestic servant by producing statements from previous employers attesting to such experience;
  • 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.

Note: It is not possible to qualify for a B-1 visa if the United States citizen will reside permanently in the United States, even if the individual concerned has previously been in the United States citizen's employ 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

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;
  • 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.
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 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);
  • 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.
  • 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 the employee not to accept any other employment while working for the employer;
  • A promise by the employer to not withhold the passport of the employee; and a statement indicating that both parties understand that the employee cannot be required to remain on the premises after working hours without compensation.
  • The contract is essential to the process in that it provides the personal employee with a framework within which he and/or she may personally seek certain employment or human rights protections. The employer must pay the domestic's initial travel expenses to the United States, and subsequently to the employer's onward assignment, or to the employee's country of normal residence at the termination of the assignment.
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.
  • One (1) 2x2 photograph.
  • For B-1 applicants only: A receipt showing payment of the non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee (the MRV fee) of US$xxx, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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-range 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.

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.

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