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What is Denmark’s au pair scheme and who can apply?

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The Local ([email protected])
What is Denmark’s au pair scheme and who can apply?
How does Denmark's au pair scheme - which has recently been criticised after 35 host families were banned from using it -- work? Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

What is Denmark’s au pair work permit scheme and how does it work?

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Danish authorities banned 35 individuals in the 2 years up to August 2023 from hiring au pairs due to reports of poor working conditions.

The rejections relate to issues including underpayment and overtime, according to a Danish newspaper report. People in Denmark on au pair visas are permitted to work no more than 30 hours per week and must be paid at least 4,700 kroner per month.

READ ALSO: Au pairs in Denmark: 35 people banned over poor working conditions

Denmark’s au pair scheme is designed to allow people to work in the country under certain conditions. The type of work that is permitted under the scheme is limited and there is a minimum pay or “allowance” which must be provided to the au pairs.

As such, host families which do not comply with these conditions can be banned from using the scheme.

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To qualify for a Danish work permit as an au pair, you must have an agreement (in the form of a contract) to live with a Danish host family. Danish immigration authorities state that one of the aims of the scheme is to give “insight into Danish culture” by allowing the au pair to live with a Danish family as part of their visa terms.

The host family is obliged to provide food, accommodation, and a monthly allowance. In return, the au pair must take part in ordinary domestic chores. The scope of these is defined under the rules of the au pair scheme.

Citizens of a countries outside of the EU or EEA, must submit an application for a residence permit to work as an au pair in Denmark. The application form can be submitted online and is found here.

If you are a citizen of an EU or EEA country or Switzerland, you do not need to apply for a residence permit but do need to apply for a EU residence document.

Which conditions must I fulfil?

The agency that processes au pair applications, the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI), states that it will assess “whether your stay as an au pair is in accordance with your life story, or whether there is a reason to assume that your purpose for applying differs from the intention behind the scheme”.

In general, you must have completed school and be able to speak English, German or Danish (or another Scandinavian language). You must be aged between 18 and 30, must not have children and your civil status must be single.

Any previous visa applications in Denmark, past au pair jobs in Denmark or elsewhere and any relation you might have with your host family are among other factors the agency looks at, as are your motivations for wanting to work as an au pair.

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What is required of the host family?

The host family must have at least one adult and one child under the age of 18. They must be registered as living at the same address.

They are also required to have “thorough knowledge of Danish culture” which they can pass on to the au pair during the stay. This means they must either be a Danish or EU citizen or have lived in Denmark for an extended period. They must not be related to or the same nationality as the au pair.

Families found to have previously abused the au pair system, such as in the 35 cases recently reported in Danish media, can be excluded for using the scheme again for either 2,5 or 10 years, depending on the severity of the offence.

They must also finance Danish lessons – this means an obligatory payment to the Danish state, even though the au pair is not obliged to actually take the lessons. They are also required to take out the relevant insurance policies covering things injury and illness, whether or not these are work-related.

Au pairs must be given a own separate room and eat for free with the host family.

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What work are au pairs expected to do?

Au pairs participate in domestic duties that are “normal in a family”, SIRI states. This means simple house work and childcare, and the work must be set out in a weekly schedule ensuring the au pair works 3-5 hours per day for a maximum of 6 days per week (or between 18 and 30 hours per week).

Au pairs must be paid at least 4,700 kroner per month as an allowance or “pocket money”. This is paid into a Danish bank account and is subject to tax.

Au pair residence permits can last up to two years, but are limited to the validity period of the contract the au pair signs with the family. They also expire if the youngest child in the family turns 18.

The application fee for the au pair scheme is 4,320 kroner and the processing time is around 3 months.

More detailed information on the scheme, as well as the application process, can be found on SIRI’s website.

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