Countless U.S. families depend on the expert care of nannies as an important part of a happy household. However, legal immigration opportunities for nannies are frequently misunderstood. These are a few options for family employers to consider when they want to hire a foreign nanny:

Short-Term Nannies: H-2B and J-1

For a family that may only need to hire a nanny for a short period of time, such as before the families’ children start school, there are two options available depending on the needs of the family:

H-2B Non-Immigrant Visas

A family hoping to bring its foreign nanny to the U.S. for a short period of time can petition for the nanny to receive an H-2B visa. This visa permits a nanny to work in the United States for a family for up to three years. In order to qualify for an H-2B visa, the family employer must first demonstrate to the Department of Labor that there are no available U.S. workers that can fill the position and prove that the employer will pay a “prevailing wage.” Also, H-2B nannies must be citizens of an H-2B eligible country. There is an annual cap of 66,000 H-2B visas available so families are encouraged to begin this process as soon as possible.

If your family is interested in pursuing an H-2B visa for your nanny contact the experience immigration attorneys at ILexLaw, PLLC for your free consultation.

J-1 Non-Immigrant Visas

Families who are interested in hiring an a foreign nanny may be interested in hiring an au pair through the Department of State’s J-1 exchange program. An au pair is sponsored by a family through official agencies (making this program optimal for families who do not have a specific nanny in mind). J-1 visas for au pairs are issued for up to one year with an option for to extend for up to an additional year. The J-1 visa au pair program has very specific requirements for both sponsors and au pairs. For more information please visit

Green Cards for Nannies

Families interested in long term care of children are eligible to file for their nanny to become a Lawful Permanent Resident, usually referred to as a Green Card holder. Like an H-2B visa, obtaining a Green Card for a nanny requires the family to demonstrate that there are no available qualified U.S. citizens for the job through a process called PERM. Once the PERM process is complete, the family can file a petition for the nanny to receive an EB-3 visa. After that petition is approved, the nanny can file for her Green Card and begin working. However, in past years nannies were unable to file for a Green Card for several years due to a backlog in “priority dates.” As of July 2015, nannies who are citizens of most countries are able to apply for their Green Cards within a few months of approval of the family’s petition. In the future the wait for priority dates may change so families are encourage to begin this process as soon as possible.

The immigration attorneys at iLexLaw, PLLC understand how to navigate this complex process. If your family is interested in sponsoring your nanny for a Green Card, contact us today for your free consultation!

Special Consideration for Nannies Unlawfully Present in the U.S.

The descriptions discussed above are primarily available for nannies who are either not currently in the U.S. or are in the U.S. in a lawful status. Typically foreign nannies who entered the U.S. illegally are not eligible for a Green Card or a temporary work visa. However, due to recent changes in immigration laws certain nannies who entered the U.S. as children or are citizens of specific countries may be eligible to receive work authorization. The immigration attorneys at iLexLaw, PLLC always offer free consultations to discuss possible options for obtaining work authorization for nannies.