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McGill & Co is a Scottish immigration law firm specialising in UK immigration, nationality and refugee law.

Au Pairs & UK Families

18 May 2021 Grace McGill Blog


Au pairs are one of the many childcare options for UK families across the UK.

The UK’s points-based immigration system does not offer a dedicated visa route for au pairs, as has been the case since 2008. However, there are ways in which you can hire an au pair to work in your home, as you can hire someone already resident in the UK who has a general right to work.

You can hire someone in the UK as an au pair if they: 


  • are a UK or Irish citizen
  • are from an EU, EEA and Swiss country and eligible under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • have a Youth Mobility Scheme visa
  • have a visa which allows general work at any skill level, for instance, as a dependent of migrants who are settled in the UK

 You should check the conditions of their visa before you hire them. You must not hire an au pair on a visitor visa.

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens

 Free movement between the UK and the European Union ended on 31 December 2020 and on 1 January 2021, the UK implemented a points-based immigration system. This means EU, EEA and Swiss citizens no longer have the automatic right to work in the UK.

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who were resident in the UK on or before 31 December should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to remain in the UK after 30 June 2021. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021. You can hire an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen as an au pair if they have status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals can visit the UK for up to 6 months without a visa, but are not permitted to work, including working as an au pair.

March 2021

Youth Mobility Scheme

You can hire someone in the UK as an au pair if they have a Youth Mobility Scheme visa.

 The Youth Mobility Scheme is a cultural exchange programme, allowing young people aged 18 to 30 from participating countries and territories to experience life in the UK for up to two years. Australia,

Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, San Marino and Taiwan currently participate in the scheme.

This Youth Mobility Scheme results in around 20,000 young people from participating countries or territories coming to experience life in the UK, with capacity for more.

Au pair arrangements

An au pair is not classed as a worker or an employee if most of the following apply:

  • they’ve got a signed letter of invitation from the host family that includes details of their stay, for example accommodation, living conditions, approximate working hours, free time, pocket money
  • they learn about British culture from the host family and share their own culture with them
  • they have their own private room in the house, provided free of charge
  • they eat their main meals with the host family, free of charge
  • they help with light housework and childcare for around 30 hours a week, including a couple of evenings babysitting
  • they get reasonable pocket money
  • they can attend English language classes at a local college in their spare time
  • they’re allowed time to study and can practise their English with the host family
  • they sometimes go on holiday with the host family and help look after the children
  • they can travel home to see their family during the year

Read more about hosting au pairs on the British Au Pair Agencies Association website.


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