Au pair employment involves foreign nationals staying with a German host family for a limited period of time. For the foreign national, the acquisition of culture and the deepening of German language skills are in the foreground. In return for imparting this knowledge, the au-pair supports the host parents in taking care of the minor children.
An au-pair who is not a citizen of another member state of the EU, another contracting state of the EEA or Switzerland requires a residence title (visa or residence permit) for the commencement of employment, which expressly permits the exercise of au-pair employment. For entry into Germany, a national visa for au pair employees may be required, which must be applied for in the home country (for exceptions see "National Visa; Issuance and Extension" under "Related Topics"). After entry, the residence permit must be applied for in writing at the responsible foreigners authority before the visa expires or, in the case of visa-free entry, within three months (see "Residence Permit; Issuance and Extension" under "Related Topics").
Foreigners under 27 years of age can be granted a residence permit for au pair employment in families where German is spoken as the native language (under certain conditions also only as the family language, see below) with the approval of the Federal Employment Agency and extended up to a total period of validity of no more than one year.
Nationals of the Member States of the European Union (EU Member States) and from the EEA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) enjoy freedom of movement within the European Union, which also includes the right to free movement of workers. They therefore require neither a visa to enter Germany nor a residence permit and are not subject to any restrictions on taking up gainful employment. Swiss nationals enjoy a legal status similar to that of the free movement of persons under European law. They can therefore also enter Germany without a visa and are not subject to any restrictions on taking up gainful employment. They receive a (declaratory) residence permit from the Foreigners' Registration Office in accordance with the EU/Switzerland Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons.
The Federal Employment Agency has published two leaflets ''Au-pair-Info for German Host Families'' and ''Au-pair with German Families''. The two leaflets and the sample of an au-pair contract can be found on the Internet (see "Further links").