Ban on au pairs bound for Europe lifted

A February 22, 2012 press release from the Department of Foreign Affairs

Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. del Rosario announced today that the ban on au pairs bound for all European countries has been lifted after the issuance of the new Guidelines on the Departure of Au Pairs to Europe.

The new Guidelines are meant to facilitate the departure of the au pairs and at the same time to provide them safety nets and protection. It was drafted and agreed upon by the ad-hoc Technical Working Group, composed of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Education (DepEd), Bureau of Immigration (BI), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO).

Under the Guidelines, procedures for the departure of au pairs have been simplified, and documentary requirements down to the minimum.

A strict monitoring system shall also be put in place in Philippine Embassies and Consulates General in Europe for the protection of the au pairs. The DFA will act as the lead agency in formulating policies on the au pair scheme.

Departing au pairs need only to submit the following to the Bureau of Immigration at the port of departure: a contract of engagement duly authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate General in the area of destination, valid passport with au pair visa, and a CFO certificate/sticker.

Au pairs need not go through the DOLE or POEA procedures anymore, as they are not considered overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The ban was imposed in 1998 due to isolated cases of abuse of the system by some unscrupulous elements.  In 2010, the ban was lifted for Switzerland, Norway, and Denmark.

Secretary del Rosario advised prospective au pairs not to go to third party go-betweens since the procedures have been simplified at the least cost for the Filipino au pairs.

At the same time, he warned unscrupulous agencies not to exploit the scheme for their nefarious activities, as any infraction will be dealt with severely by the laws of the host countries and those of the Philippines.

Au pair is a term used to describe those between 18 and 30 years of age, unmarried and without any children, placed under a cultural exchange arrangement with a European host family for a maximum stay of two years, unless otherwise allowed by host countries.

Under the au pair scheme, the au pair is placed in an immersion program in cultural and language learning in the specific European country of destination.  S/he shall live with the host family at par (au pair) or on an equal basis with the immediate members of the host family, shall be given pocket money, share in child care, light household chores and responsibilities previously agreed upon an au pair placement contract between the au pair and the host family.