Domestic employees applying for visas to accompany, or follow to join, their employer must meet specific criteria. This includes cooks, butlers, chauffeurs, housekeepers, nannies, caretakers, gardeners, and paid companions, among others.
Employers eligible to sponsor a B1 domestic employee include nonimmigrant visa (NIV) holders and U.S. citizens visiting the United States temporarily. Foreign diplomats or officials can sponsor a domestic employee for an official visa (A3 or G5). Lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and U.S. citizens who live in the United States cannot sponsor a B1 domestic employee.
See below eligibility requirements:
The employer is a nonimmigrant visa (NIV) holder
For B1 domestic employee visa eligibility:
- The employer must have a valid nonimmigrant visa (except visa types C, D, T, or U or an official visa).
- The domestic employee must have a residence outside of the United States which they have no intent to abandon.
- The domestic employee must have at least one year of experience as a domestic employee.
- The domestic employee must have been employed by this employer for at least one year prior to the travel date (if accompanying the employer), or one year prior to the employer’s admission to the United States (if following to join.) or;
- The employer must have a history of employing domestic help over several years.
The employer is a U.S. Citizen
For B1 domestic employee visa eligibility:
- The U.S. citizen employer must have a permanent home or be stationed outside of the United States. Employees can’t qualify for a B1 visa if the U.S. citizen employer will live permanently in the United States.
- The domestic employee must have at least one year of work experience as a domestic employee.
- The domestic employee must have been employed by this employer outside of the United States for at least six months prior to the travel date (if accompanying the employer) or one year prior to the employer’s admission to the United States (if following to join) or;
- The employer must have a history of employing domestic help in the same role while outside of the United States.
The employer has an official visa
Employers with a valid A, G, or C3 visas may apply for a visa for their domestic employees by following the official visas process.
APPLY FOR A B1 DOMESTIC VISA
Domestic employees follow the same application process found in the ‘Apply for a Visa’ section on the nonimmigrant visa page.
Employers don’t need to accompany employees to their interview; however, the consular officer may request that the employer appear.
The domestic employee must present these documents during their visa interview:
- Standard U.S. visa application documents – see ‘Required Documents’.
- The employer’s valid visa or employer’s valid U.S. passport – The original or a copy.
- Employment contract – Both parties must sign the typed contract. It must show that the employer will provide wages, working conditions, and benefits in accordance with U.S. and local laws. Read the next section for details and sample contracts.
Note: The employee should fully understand and be able to explain the terms of the contract during their visa interview.
Required elements of the employment contract
- A description of the applicant’s duties.
- A statement that the employer agrees to pay the minimum wage or prevailing wage of the travel destination, whichever is higher. You can find the federal minimum wage on the Department of Labor website. The U.S. Department of Labor determines prevailing wages based on occupation and location. You can find prevailing wages at the FLC Data Center.
- The employer’s agreement to provide:
- Free room and board;
- Free medical insurance; and
- Free transportation to and from the United States.
- A statement describing the contract’s duration and termination conditions. For example: “This contract will be valid from December 1, 2022 until March 1, 2023; it may be terminated by either party to the contract with one month’s advance notice.”
- The employee’s statement that they will not accept other employment while working for the employer.
- The employer’s statement that they will not withhold the passport of the employee.
- A statement indicating that both parties understand that the employee cannot be required to remain at the worksite after working hours without compensation.
- For U.S. citizen employers only:
- The contract should state that the employer will give at least two-weeks notice of intent to terminate the employment and that the employee doesn’t need to give more than two-weeks notice of intent to leave the employment.
- This contract must also reflect any other benefits normally required for U.S. domestic workers.
Anything else in the contract is a private matter between the parties, but it cannot conflict with the contract’s required terms.
You may write your own contract or use these templates in English and Portuguese.
Know Your Rights: As a temporary worker in the United States, you are entitled to legal protections to ensure a safe and healthy experience. Prior to your interview, please read this pamphlet (English or Portuguese) to learn about your rights and the resources available to you while working in the United States.