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Domestic Employees

Personal or domestic servants who are accompanying or following to join an employer in the United States are eligible for B-1 visas; those accompanying or following to join an employer who is a foreign diplomat or official are eligible for A-3 or G-5 visas, depending on the visa status of their employer.

This category of persons includes, but is not limited to, cooks, butlers, chauffeurs, housemaids, parlormaids, valets, footmen, nannies, au pairs, mothers’ helpers, gardeners, and paid companions.

Accompanying a Nonimmigrant Visa Holder

An employer-employee relationship must already have existed between the employer and the visa applicant.  This can be demonstrated in the following ways:

  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.
  2. If the employer-employee relationship existed immediately prior to the time of application, the employer can demonstrate that he has regularly employed the applicant as domestic help over a period of years preceding the time of application either year-round or seasonally.
  3. If the employer-employee relationship is less than one year in duration, the employee must have had at least one year’s experience as a personal or domestic servant as attested to by statements from previous employers.

A responsibility of the employer is that he/she will be the only provider of employment for the visa holder. Additionally, he/she will provide the employee room and board and round trip airfare as indicated under the terms of the employment contract.

Accompanying an American Citizen

Personal or domestic servants who are accompanying or following to join their United States citizen employer in the United States may be eligible for the B-1 visa classification if their employer ordinarily resides outside the United States and is traveling to the United States temporarily, or the 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.

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.

In addition:

  • The employer-employee relationship must have existed for at least six 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 experiences as a personal or domestic servant by producing statements from previous employers attesting to such experience;
  • The employer will be the only provider of employment, and will provide the employee free room and board and round trip airfare as indicated under the terms of the employment contract.

Required Documentation:

  1. Valid Passport.
  2. The DS-160 application form confirmation page.
  3. Original bank receipt for the application fee.
  4. The employer’s valid visa or the employer’s U.S. valid passport .
  5. Documentation in support of employer’s ability to pay the employee’s salary. This could include pay stubs, bank statements, or other documents verifying the employer’s solvency.
  6. A contract signed and dated by both employer and employee that at a minimum must include a guarantee that:
  •  The employee will be compensated at the minimum or prevailing wage, whichever is greater. The minimum hourly wage or prevailing wage for the location in the United States where the employee will be performing the work must be specified in the contract.
  • IMPORTANT: Please check both links in the preceding sentence to determine which amount is greater: the minimum wage or the prevailing wage.  To use the prevailing wage website, do the following:
    • Click on the “prevailing wage” highlighted link
    • Select the state you will visit from the drop-down list and hit continue
    • When it appears, select the county you will visit from the drop down list. If you do not know the county, you can easily find out by googling the city (for example, Google “what county Miami Florida”)
    • In the next box titled “Enter a keyword or phrase” enter the most appropriate description of this person’s job (for example, “nanny” or “housekeeper”)
    • Hit search
    • On the next page, locate the most appropriate occupation listed, and hit “View wages” for that occupation
    • On the next page, the hourly wage listed next to “Level 2 Wage” is the correct wage to use in your contract.  In the below example, you would use $9.81 per hour for your contract.

      Your search returned the following: Print Format
      Area Code:                         33124
      Area Title:                           Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall, FL Metropolitan Division
      OES/SOC Code:                 39-9011
      OES/SOC Title:                  Childcare Workers
      GeoLevel:                           1
      Level 1 Wage:                   $8.92 hour – $18,554 year
      Level 2 Wage:                   $9.81 hour – $20,405 year
      Level 3 Wage:                   $10.69 hour – $22,235 year
      Level 4 Wage:                   $11.58 hour – $24,086 year
      Mean Wage (H-2B):       $10.69 hour – $22,235 year

  • The contract must also include a provision stating that for every hour worked above 40 hours per week, the applicant will be compensated at 150% of his or her salary.

In addition, if working for a U.S. citizen the contract must:

  • Reflect any other benefits normally required for U.S. domestic workers in the area of employment; and
  • State that the employer will give at least two weeks notice of his or her intent to terminate the employment, and that the employee need not give more than two weeks notice of intent to leave the employment.

Employees: Know Your Rights

While working in the U.S., all B-1 visa holders have very clear rights under U.S federal immigration, labor and employment laws. These rights are explained in a pamphlet that you will be given during your interview at the U.S. Embassy, and are also available online here.  If you have any questions, please be sure to discuss with the Consular Officer at the time of your interview. You can contact the organizations listed in the pamphlet at any time.

In general:

  • Be sure you understand your contract (what your salary will be, how many hours you are expected to work etc).
  • Keep a copy of the employment contract for yourself (your employer should not have the only copy).
  • Keep your Argentinian passport and U.S. visa with you (these documents should remain with you, not your employer).
  • Do not sign anything that you do not understand.
  • Read and familiarize yourself with the Rights and Protections for Temporary Workers pamphlet. (Spanish version here)

Employers: Know Your Responsibilities

The employment contract is an official document that clearly states the terms of employment while in the U.S.  If it is determined that any part of the contract has not been adhered to (for example, if the employer does not pay the hourly wage stated in the contract, or fails to pay the employee 150% of his/her salary for every hour worked above 40 hours per week), the employer has violated the employee’s rights under U.S. law.  In addition, employers have the responsibility to ensure that:

  • Employees are given a copy of the work contract, signed by both parties.
  • Employees (not employers) remain in possession of their Argentinian passport and U.S. visa at all times.
  • For more information on employees’ rights while working in the U.S., please click here.

Accompanying a Diplomatic Visa Holder 

Personal or domestic employees accompanying foreign diplomatic officials or foreign federal employees traveling to the United States on official business under visa classes A1 or A2 will need to apply for visa class A3.

Accompanying a Member of an International Organization 

Personal or domestic employees accompanying a member of an international organization traveling to the United States on official business under visa classes G1, G2, G3 or G4 will need to apply for visa class G5.

  • Click here to see a sample Spanish/English contract for a B1 domestic employee and here for a diplomat or official domestic employee. (PDF 80 KB)