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As you may know, when you sign up to be an au pair in America you have to go for a minimum of one year. However, you also have the option of extending that stay with 6, 9 or 12 months. Well, I have decided to extend my stay for the full 12 month period. Which means that I will be living, with my current host family, until August 2022! I am so excited!

Before I really get into this blog post…. my host family is a finalist for host family of the year!! You can vote for them here. I nominated them, because they are amazing, kind, and truly are a second family to me.

When I first left to start my au pair journey I already had a sneaking suspicion that I would be staying longer than the original 12 months that I signed up for. At the end of November I knew that I wanted to extend with a whole year and began thinking about how to ask my host family. Since it was so close to Christmas I thought it would be nice to combine the two. So I was wondering, how can I ask my host family using something tangible that I could physically give them for Christmas.

After some thinking and talking with friends, I came up with the idea to make a photo album. The front cover has one of our first pictures as a family on it with ‘August ’20’ written underneath and next to it I left a blank space for a picture at the end of my au pair time with ‘August ’22’ already written (which was a big clue). On the first few pages I stuck pictures of all our memories up until now. We have celebrated some birthdays and special occasions and holidays, and I also included fun trips to the beach, playground and museum. And then I wrote out a quick little paragraph and the question asking them if I can extend.

They loved it! As I thought, my host parents didn’t realize straight away that I was asking to stay. For me it seemed like forever, looking at all the pictures and reading all the comments that I added until they finally got to the ‘question’ page. I think I can safely say that they were very excited and happy. Hugs were shared and the kids were told. I could not think of a better way to ask them and especially because it was Christmas.

Another thing that you should know about the photo album is that I left about half the pages blank. ‘Why’ you ask? Because it is my intention to keep filling the photo album as our journey continues. This will be a lovely memory of our time together and all the fun moments that we shared. But we have a long way to go before I can fill all the pages. Another 19 months!!

Some things you need to know about extending:

  • As an au pair you can only extend for 6, 9 or 12 months. So in total you can stay a maximum of 24 months before your J1 visa expires.
  • You need to keep earning college credits! As an au pair you need to earn 6 college credits or 72 hours of classroom time per 12 months. If you choose to extend for 6 months then you only need to do 3 credits or 36 hours, but for 9 and 12 months you need to do the full 6/72. This means that I need to think about how I want to get my credits next year.
  • You can only go to Mexico and Canada in your second year. This is because technically your J1 visa has expired, you are still legally allowed to be in the country though. Luckily for me I am planning a trip home in June and I am hoping to renew my visa for my second year.
  • You can choose to stay with your current host family or go to a different one. I, as you have read, am choosing to stay with the same family. I love being their au pair and I have made some amazing friends here in the area that I want to stay here. Obviously, there are also lots of reason you could choose to go to a different host family, for example; to live in another part of the US.

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