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Trump Administration May Restrict J-1 Visas, Impacting Au Pairs

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- With President Trump threatening to slash J-1 Visas, some Bay Area families are concerned about how that possible crackdown could affect the availability of au pairs in the U.S.

Oakland resident Melissa Hernandez is a busy mother of triplet boys, She told KPIX 5 cannot imagine life without her au pair Alex Nagel.

"He eats dinner with us every night. He's going on a trip with us next week," said Hernandez. "He's going to meet my family."

Hernandez and her wife were facing the difficult decision of leaving work versus being able to pay for a nanny or child care, but Alex changed that.

"Mostly cost and flexibility. And for us, a nanny for three kids you're looking at 30 to 40 bucks an hour," said Hernandez.

Alex is visiting the U.S. from Germany on a J-1 Visa, which allows foreign workers to come here for work/study. They're often paid significantly less.

Both Melissa and Alex know J-1 Visas could be the next thing on President Trump's chopping block.

"I wouldn't say it scares me, but it would be really sad," said Nagel.

The purpose of the J-1 Visa isn't just to work here but to have a cultural experience and take that knowledge of the U.S. home. Opponents say it is often abused for cheap labor.

"We really do have people being taken advantage of, because people want cheap labor," said Marguerite Telford with the Center for Immigration Studies.

Telford explained that a lot of sponsors abuse this program. She wants to see it up for review.

"These are jobs in the past American youth have done. I think they're vital for our youth," said Telford.

As for Nagel, he said working as an au pair is more about the experience than the money. And as for how he views the United States?

"Even people considered unfriendly are a lot friendlier than Germans," said Nagel. I'm trying to take that back with me at some point."

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