Sponsoring A Caregiver

Caregivers are in high demand and short supply in the US. The “caregiver support ratio” — defined as the number of potential caregivers aged 45–64 for each person aged 80 and older — is set to rise to 4:1 by 2030, the ARP reports. As such, care for America’s elderly and disabled population increasingly relies on immigrant labor, with immigrants now accounting for 18% of healthcare workers, a report in the journal Health Affairs reveals. Fortunately, if you’re looking for help from outside the US, there are a number of ways you can sponsor a caregiver.

J-1 Visa For Caregivers

The J-1 visa is best suited to US citizens (or legal permanent residents who speak fluent English) who need to find an au pair. Through the au pair program, a suitable caregiver is matched up with the host family. You don’t need to sponsor the au pair directly; this responsibility falls on the program sponsors who screen and choose both the au pair and host family. Aged between 18 and 26, au pairs must speak English, be high school graduates, and pass a background check. They need to be enrolled at school in the US while working as an au pair. Au pairs stay for at least twelve months, with the potential to extend this by either six, nine or twelve additional months. In turn, the host family is required to provide private room and board, weekly pay, and a maximum of $500 to help meet the au pair’s academic needs.

H-2B Visa For Caregivers

Unlike the J-1 visa, the H-2B visa (specifically for temporary non-agricultural foreign workers) allows families to sponsor an individual caregiver themselves. However, the process of obtaining this caregiver visa is more complex. It involves three main steps. First, you need to complete and submit a temporary labor application to the US Department of Labor. You’ll need to prove there aren’t enough caregivers in the US, and that hiring a H-2B employee won’t negatively impact the wages or working conditions of existing US caregivers. Secondly, you need to submit Form I-129 to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Lastly, if your form is approved by USCIS, your caregiver needs to apply for a H-2B visa themselves. There’s a total of 66,000 H-2B visas available every year.

Taxes And Withholding

Hiring a live-in caregiver legally makes you an employer. If you pay cash wages of $1,900 or more, Medicare and Social Security must be taken out. You may also need to take out unemployment insurance. Additionally, if your caregiver is responsible for an adult unable to care for themselves or a child under 13, you may also qualify for a tax credit. The child and dependent care credit may be available if both you and your spouse need the caregiver in order to work or find employment.

Sponsoring a caregiver in the US provides families with many benefits and improved quality of life. It’s important to research your options carefully to determine which one works best for your family.

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