Domestic Employees (B1 visas)
Personal or domestic employees who are accompanying or following to join an employer in the United States are eligible for B-1 visas. This category of persons includes, but is not limited to: cooks, chauffeurs, valets, nannies, au pairs, gardeners, and paid companions.
Accompanying a Nonimmigrant Visa Holder
Personal or domestic employees who are accompanying or following to join an employer who seeks admission into, or who is already in, the United States in B, E, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, Q, or R nonimmigrant status may be eligible for the B-1 visa classification provided:
- The employee has been employed outside the United States by the employer for at least one year prior to the date of the employer's admission to the United States.
- The employee has a residence abroad which he or she has no intention of abandoning.
Accompanying an American Citizen
Personal or domestic servants who are accompanying or following to join their United States citizen employer in the United States may be eligible for the B-1 visa classification if:
- The American Citizen ordinarily resides outside the United States and is traveling to the United States temporarily.
- The American Citizen’s employer is subject to frequent international transfers lasting two years or more and who, as a condition of employment, is going to reside in the United States for a stay not to exceed four years.
It is not possible to qualify for a B-1 visa if the United States citizen employer will reside permanently in the United States, even if the B-1 visa applicant has previously been in the United States citizen's employ abroad. In addition:
- The employer-employee relationship must have existed for at least six months prior to the employer's admission to the United States or, alternatively, the employer has regularly employed a domestic employee in the same capacity while abroad.
- The employee has had at least one year of experience as a personal or domestic employee, as indicated by statements from previous employers attesting to such experience.
- The employer will be the only provider of employment, and will provide the employee free room and board and round trip transportation, as indicated under the terms of the employment contract.
- Valid Passport.
- The DS-160 application form confirmation page.
- Original bank receipt for the application fee.
- The employer’s valid visa (copy not permitted) or the employer’s U.S. valid passport (copy not permitted).
- Documentation in support of employer’s ability to pay the employee’s salary. This could include pay stubs, bank statements, or other documents verifying the employer’s solvency.
- A contract signed and dated by both employer and employee that at a minimum must include a guarantee that:
- The employee will be compensated at the minimum or prevailing wage, whichever is greater. The minimum hourly wage for the U.S. state where the employee will be performing the work must be specified in the contract. The contract must also include a provision stating that for every hour worked above 40 hours per week, the applicant will be compensated at 150% of his or her salary.
- The employee will be provided free transportation to and from the U.S., and free room and board while in the U.S.
- The employer will be the only provider of employment to the employee.
In addition, if working for a U.S. citizen the contract must:
- Reflect any other benefits normally required for U.S. domestic workers in the area of employment; and
- State that the employer will give at least two weeks notice of his or her intent to terminate the employment, and that the employee need not give more than two weeks notice of intent to leave the employment.
- A sample employment contract that meets the above requirements is available here.
Optional documentation can vary depending on the applicant’s personal situation. The following are suggestions that may help the officer to assess your intentions to return to Mexico and is not an exhaustive list of what applicants should present at the interview.
- Passports containing all previous U.S. visas, even if expired.
- Birth certificate (original or certified copy).
- Mexican Voter Registration Card (IFE) if 18 or over.
Employees: Know Your Rights
While working in the U.S., all B-1 visa holders have very clear rights under U.S federal immigration, labor and employment laws. These rights are explained in a pamphlet that you will be given during your interview at the U.S. Embassy, and are also available online here. If you have any questions, please be sure to discuss with the Consular Officer at the time of your interview. You can contact the organizations listed in the pamphlet at any time.
- Be sure you understand your contract (what your salary will be, how many hours you are expected to work etc).
- Keep a copy of the employment contract for yourself (your employer should not have the only copy).
- Keep your Mexican passport and U.S. visa with you (these documents should remain with you, not your employer).
- Do not sign anything that you do not understand.
- Read and familiarize yourself with the Rights and Protections for Temporary Workers pamphlet.
Employers: Know Your Responsibilities
The employment contract is an official document that clearly states the terms of employment while in the U.S. If it is determined that any part of the contract has not been adhered to (for example, if the employer does not pay the hourly wage stated in the contract, or fails to pay the employee 150% of his/her salary for every hour worked above 40 hours per week), the employer has violated the employee’s rights under U.S. law. In addition, employers have the responsibility to ensure that:
- Employees are given a copy of the work contract, signed by both parties.
- Employees (not employers) remain in possession of their Mexican passport and U.S. visa at all times.
- For more information on employees’ rights while working in the U.S., please click here.