It has been a whirlwind few weeks. During the last 2 weeks I have managed to get my VISA 😱 , completed my training school, received my flight information and attended my online get ready workshop. It was a lot but that means that my au pair journey is finally able to start! Although is seems like a long wait, it is only a three week delay for me, which I know is very lucky. Because it could easily have been another 4 months.
On the 22nd of June after the presidential proclamations I had given up the hope of getting my visa this year. I didn’t really know what I was going to do and how it would work out, but still positive that one way or another in the far future I would eventually become an au pair. Well it was not so far in the future as I had thought.
Getting my visa
I don’t even remember which day because it has all been blurred together, but I remember waking up with a text from my host family that exemptions have been issued from the previous presidential proclamations and that I would qualify for it. Although I was still waiting on new forms from America to be sent (a DS-160) we started working on making sure that I had enough evidence to take with me to the consulate for me to get the waiver.
I was so nervous when I went there. It was now or never, well January, but it felt like never at the time. When you arrive you have to go through airport security it felt like, your passport is checked, your bags go through a scanner and you have to go through a body scanner as well. Once you get to the next room you need to show your passport with a few forms. Then someone else checks them *again*. After, you make your way to the first desk, they will take your fingerprints, and guess what… check the documents *again*. Then you need to wait until your name is called. I have no idea in what order because a couple of people that came in later went earlier and a few that were there when I came were still sitting there when I left.
When I got up for the interview bit, they asked me what I was going to do in the United States. I answered au pair obviously, and immediately said that I think I qualify for the waiver program. I gave her the evidence pile that I had. Which included a letter from Cultural care (the agency) and from the workplace of both my host parents stating that they are medical professionals. She merely scanned through them and she approved my visa. Which you probably guessed from the title of this post.
After that, I called the agency and the rest was set into motion. I would still need to complete a few mandatory courses and arrange some documents before I leave.
This is mandatory for the J1 visa, so I have been told. Everyone needs to have a certain amount of hours of schooling before they are allowed to enter the program. In normal circumstances this would have been held in New York, and I would have been able to meet other au pairs there, maybe a few heading to the same location. But alas, it was all online.
There was some homework to be done. This included a thorough First Aid online course, which was concluded with a zoom exam. If anyone was wondering I can now give CPR to an oversized stuffed hamster. We also had to watch a few videos about safety in America as it differs from all our home countries. And you can never be too safe.
Although it was online, I was able to meet some future au pairs that will hopefully be traveling soon as well. We were put in a class like we normally would have been and had interactive lessons. We learnt about the ways of life in America, what to expect from our role as an au pair and obviously about child safety, food preparation and activities. Although it dragged on at times it was useful and informative.
It was still unsure if I would be traveling on the 21st or the 28th of August. I personally wanted to go as soon as possible but the days were coming closer to the 21st. On the night of 16/17 August, I had a nightmare that my layover was 5 days long in the middle of nowhere and then I woke up with an email ‘your flight itinerary is now available’. I may have had a mini heart attack. But it was great! Firstly, I would be traveling on the 21st and second because it was a stop in New York for 1 hour and 50 minutes… I can handle that😅 . Now I need to figure out what to pack!
Get ready workshop
The last mandatory thing that I had to attend was the get ready workshop. Online again. This was given to only people in our home country so also in our home language. The instructor gave us a few tips about life in America and also last minute things that we shouldn’t forget. They also talked through our contacts in the US when/if we need help.
I am now ready to go! My bags are almost packed and I am making my way round lots of family members to say goodbye. I am super excited but also a little bit nervous. I know it’s going to be a life changing adventure, and I can’t wait to officially start this new chapter.