TIMELINE ON USIA'S AU PAIR PROGRAM
AU PAIR BACKGROUND
- Interest in an au pair program began in 1986 when the American Institute for Foreign
Study (AIFS) and the Experiment in International Living (EIL) applied to USIA to
conduct an au pair program under the Fulbright-Hays authority.
- December 1987: an interagency panel recommended that the program be discontinued.
- October 1988: Congress instructs USIA to continue the program and mandates a
Accounting Office (GAO) study of this and other exchanges.
- 1989: USIA designates six additional organizations to participate in the program,
bringing the total to eight. See attached list. Congress ordered the General Accounting
Office (GAO) to conduct a study of the program.
- February 1990: GAO report "Inappropriate Uses of Educational and Cultural Exchange
Visas," states that au pair programs "are not compatible with the original intent of the
1961 (Fulbright-Hays) Act."
- October 1990: Congress extends the au pair program under USIA and instructs USIA
continue the program under the then-existing guidelines until such time as it decides
- On October 7, 1994, pursuant to HR 5034 (State/USIA Technical Corrections Bill),
Congress authorized USIA to promulgate specific regulations governing the au pair
- February 1995: au pair program went from operating under guidelines to regulations
published in the Federal Register. First comprehensive regulations addressing au pair
and host families selection, screening, and placement.
- June 1997: additional regulations were published in the Federal Register providing
further clarification regarding au pair screening and training and further limiting to ten the
number of hours per day an au pair may provide child care. These additional regulations
were adopted as final in September 1997.
USIA's au pair program began with two designated organizations and approximately 200 au
pairs. On an annual average, there are approximately 12,000 au pairs in the U.S. working with
eight designated exchange organizations that carry out the day-to-day operation of the program.
These organizations are responsible for the recruiting, training, screening, and placement of the
au pairs. Some 60,000 young people have participated in the program since its inception in
Annual cost to an average American host family is about $12,000. This includes fees to the
designated organization, weekly stipend, educational allowance, and room/board. February 1998
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