Domestic employees applying for visas to accompany, or follow to join, an eligible employer must meet specific criteria. This category of applicants includes, but is not limited to cooks, butlers, chauffeurs, housekeepers, nannies, caretakers, gardeners, and paid companions.
Employers eligible to sponsor a domestic employee for a B-1 visa include nonimmigrant visa (NIV) holders and U.S. citizens that are visiting the United States temporarily. Employers who are foreign diplomats or officials can sponsor a domestic employee for an Official Visa (A-3). Lawful Permanent Residents (“green card holders”) and U.S. citizens who reside in the United States cannot sponsor a B-1 domestic employee.
Click on the employer type below for detailed eligibility requirements:
The Employer is a Nonimmigrant Visa (NIV) Holder
For B-1 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 he or she has no intention of abandoning.
- The domestic employee must have at least one year of work experience as a personal or domestic employee.
- The domestic employee must have been employed by this employer for at least one year prior to the anticipated travel date (if accompanying the employer), or one year prior to the employer’s admission to the United States (if following to join.)
- The employer must demonstrate a history of employing domestic help over several years.
The Employer is a U.S. Citizen
For B-1 Domestic Employee Visa Eligibility:
- The U.S. citizen employer must have a permanent home outside of the United States, or be routinely stationed in a foreign country, and be visiting or on limited assignment to the United States.
NOTE: It is not possible for an employee to qualify for a B-1 domestic visa if the U.S. citizen employer will reside permanently in the United States.
- The domestic employee must have least one year of work experience as a personal or domestic employee.
- The domestic employee must have been employed by this employer outside of the United States for at least 6 months prior to the anticipated travel date (if accompanying the employer) or one year prior to the employer’s admission to the United States (if following to join).
- The employer must demonstrate 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 C-3 visa may apply for a visa for their personal or domestic employees by following the process for Official Visas.
Apply for a B-1 Domestic Visa
Domestic employees of employers who meet the above criteria follow the same four-step application process described in the “Apply for a Visa” section on the Nonimmigrant Visa page.
Applicants’ employers do not need to accompany them to their interview; however the consular officer conducting the interview may request that the employer appear if necessary.
The domestic employee must present the following documents during their visa interview:
- The standard documents required for all U.S. visa applications – please check the “Required Documents” section on the Nonimmigrant Visa page.
- The employer’s valid visa OR employer’s valid U.S. passport – either the original or a copy are acceptable.
- Employment Contract – A typed contract must be signed by both the employer and the employee. It must demonstrate that the employer will provide the domestic worker with wages, working conditions, and benefits in accordance with both U.S. and local laws. See the section “Required Elements of the Employment Contract” below for additional details and sample contracts in English and in Portuguese.
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
Applicants must present a typewritten employment contract in English and in Portuguese, signed and dated by both the employer and the employee (each should have their own copy). At a minimum, the contract must cover the duration of the planned trip to the United States and include the following items:
- A description of the duties to be performed by the applicant;
- A statement that the employer agrees to pay the minimum wage or prevailing wage of the travel destination, whichever is higher. The federal minimum wage can be found at the Department of Labor website. Prevailing wages are maintained by the U.S. Department of Labor and are broken down by occupation and metropolitan area. You can find prevailing wages at the FLC Data Center.
- The employer’s agreement to provide to the employee:
- Free room and board;
- Free medical insurance; and
- Free transportation to and from the United States;
- A statement describing the contract’s duration and conditions for its termination. For example: “This contract will be valid from February 1, 2018 until February 1, 2020; 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 any other employment while working for the employer;
- The employer’s statement that they will not withhold the passport of the employee; and
- 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 reflect 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.
- This contract must also reflect any other benefits normally required for U.S. domestic workers.
Any other items mentioned in the contract will be considered private matters between the contracting parties as long as they do not conflict in any way with the required terms of the contract, as indicated above.
Know Your Rights
As a domestic employee and 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.