Letter of Invitation for an Au Pair
Once a family has accepted an applicant and wants to invite them to be their au pair, they must then formally write to them to offer them the job.
What is a Letter of Invitation?This letter is known as the Letter of Invitation (sometimes referred to by agents as the L.O.I.) and acts as the au pair’s official ‘job offer’ and as the families’ official acceptance of an au pair.
Once the au pair has received and accepted the offer, it stands as a formal agreement after which time if the family change their mind, they will be liable for any costs (such as travel if the au pair has already booked her ticket) incurred by the au pair or agency.
Issuing the LOIIf you are using an agent, they will send your Letter direct to the au pair and keep a copy on file.
Because your letter represents the formal acceptance of an au pair by a family, it is usually at this stage that most agencies ask for their fee. Although they normally also confirm the au pair’s travel arrangements before invoicing you (so that you have a safeguard that he/she is coming), the fee they command is for the work they’ve completed up to this point and signifies the introduction only to the au pair.
If you are communicating with your au pair directly, without the help of an agency, you will need to send your Letter to them.
ImmigrationBesides being a written agreement of offer and acceptance, the au pair also needs the Letter of Invitation when they travel into the UK for immigration purposes as it is proof that they are being sponsored into the country by a host family.
For EU nationals, it is merely a formality, but must nevertheless be carried with the au pair’s passport. For non-EU au pairs, arrangements are slightly more complicated.
Non-EU Au PairsIf your au pair is from a non-EU/EEA country, their Letter of Invitation takes on more significance because it comprises an important part of their visa application. An au pair must be in possession of this letter before they may apply for a visa and should expect it to be examined at interview.
Border Control may also wish to call the host family in order to verify that the au pair is not applying for an au pair visa under false pretences.
For their LOI, families must comply with certain other criteria which are stipulated by visa offices. Details can usually be found on Consulate/Embassy websites or if you are using an agent, they will be able to take you through the process step-by-step.
For instance, with Turkish applicants, the Letter of Invitation must be hand-written by the family and a hard copy sent to the au pair with copies to any agencies involved (who must also submit additional paperwork).
Requirements do tend to vary, so if you are in doubt, seek the help of a good agent.
Information the Letter of Invitation Should ContainFor EU citizens, the Letter of Invitation needs to clearly state that you are offering her the job with your family and would like her to arrive on a certain day and time. Because she is legally able to do more hours, if she is in agreement, you can state the number of hours to be as many as you need and offer a commensurate amount of weekly pay.
However, for non-EU applicants, rules are much stricter and the letter must follow a ‘standard’ format as well as include certain stipulated information such as:
- Name, address and contact details of the family
- Name, address and contact details of the au pair
- Specific description of the family i.e. names and ages of children etc
- Start and end dates for the au pair
- Amount of pocket money offered per week (must be within Home Office guidelines)
- Specific hours amounting to no more than 5 hours per day; 25 hours per week and with 2 days off per week
- Confirmation that the au pair will be able to attend language classes
- Confirmation that you understand and agree to abide by Home Office regulations on how to treat an au pair
If you are drafting a Letter of Invitation, the best policy would be to include all the above points (altering hours and pay if you need to for EU au pairs) and attach as detailed a timetable as possible.
The clearer you can be in your formal offer letter, the better, as it will form the basis on which an au pair accepts the job.