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. This category of persons includes, but is not limited to, cooks, butlers, chauffeurs, housemaids, parlormaids, nannies, au pairs, mothers’ helpers, gardeners, and paid companions. Those accompanying or following to join an employer who is a foreign diplomat or official are eligible for A-3, G-5 or NATO-7 visas, depending on the visa status of their employer.

Please refer to the appropriate section for further information.

Personal or domestic servants who are accompanying or following to join an employer 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 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 if the employer-employee relationship existed immediately prior to the time of application, 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 has at least one year’s experience as a personal or domestic servant as attested to by statements from previous employers;
  • The employee has a residence abroad which he or she has no intention of abandoning;
  • The employer and the employee have signed an employment contract (English) (Portuguese), which contains statements that the employee is guaranteed the minimum or prevailing wage, whichever is greater (further information is available in the employment contract- link above), free room and board, and the employer will be the only provider of employment to the employee.

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 (English) (Portuguese).

At the time of applying for the visa, the employee is required to furnish an employment contract that has been signed and dated by the employer and employee and contains a guarantee from the employer, that in addition to the provisions in item (3), the employee will receive the minimum or prevailing wages, whichever is greater for an eight-hour work day. (Further information is available from the Department of Labor’s website.) 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.

Personal or domestic servants who are accompanying or following to join an employer who is a foreign diplomat or official are eligible for A-3, G-5 or NATO-7 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 an A-1 or A-2 Visa Holder

Personal or domestic servants of an employer who seeks admission to, or who is already in, the United States in A-1 or A-2 status may be issued A-3 visas.