Making the Move! Amsterdam Edition
Hello Guys!! Its been a month now since I got here! And you have no idea how different the adaptation process has been, but I'm so blessed to have my boyfriend so close helping me and motivating me. I don't want to get too personal on this post so I will just go straight to what everybody has been asking me: HOW WAS THE PROCESS TO MOVE TO AMSTERDAM?!
Well, as I told you before I'm here as an Au pair, so I got an Au pair visa which is valid for one year and it can't be renewable. The Netherlands is the only European country that age limit is 30 years old, I guess my retirement has finally come, lol!
So lets get into this! What it means to be an au pair in The Netherlands? An Au pair is allowed to work a max of 30 hrs a week and no more than 8 hr a day with two full days off, you are entitled to have 2 weeks of paid vacation, and you get weekly pocket money. As an Au Pair you are supposed to perform only childcare related activities and light house work and seriously they are very strict about this in comparison with other countries so you should feel safe that you are not going to be taken advantage of.
To be an Au Pair in The Netherlands you dont need to have an agency, and if you want to have one you MUST NOT pay more than 34€ for this service, (beware of this, since a lot of agencies make you pay large amounts of money) however the family does need to have an agency. (see the full conditions here)
This being said, I decided to upload my profile to the well known website Aupair World. I started my search in February and my desired starting date was September, which is the start of the new school year thus it is the favorite time for families to get an au pair. (Please note that my current family contacted me back in May! and I actually started working in August)
What to include on your profile? Your profile is your resume, so its very important to write it clear, detailed and also to include your expectations. I personally like Au pair World because is super user friendly, you can select how many kids you can take care of, the age range, and other simple but important questions such as smoking, doing light house cleaning, religion, driving, if you prefer big or small city, etc. (which when it comes to living and sharing a house its important to answer sincerely) and last but not least the period of time you are available for and the sooner and latest you are willing to start. ( You can play with these variables because depending of these, are the families the website will match you with)
There's a part where you need to write an introduction and other where you write a letter to the prospective family. I recommend in the first one to add all your background, personality, hobbies, goals, and in the other you can talk about your past child experiences, activities you are willing to do with them, if you have lived before by your own or with roommates, and also your expectations (if you want to be consider part of the family, if you prefer to keep it just job related, if you want to travel, if you have special diet, if you like to have friends/family over to visit, etc).
Also remember to upload pictures, I would recommend to include pictures with kids either family or from past experiences, which in both cases make sure to specify parents gave their concern. Also a picture of yourself maybe in a formal occasion or celebration (birthday, graduation, Christmas) and also a fun one maybe while any of your travels or at an event, concert, museum so you can show a little bit who you are.
Once your profile goes live, you can go to the "Easy Find" section and they will show the families that are possible matches. You can look at their profiles, save them as favorite or send a message right away! When it comes to sending a message I honestly had a pre-made text, which I only modified to adapt to every family. After a few messages through the website it is recommendable to schedule an Skype/Facetime/Whatsapp appointment so you can meet each other and talk more about the position. I actually did around 3 Skype sessions with the family before deciding to officially match, and several more after matching ( I did not see the kids until the second session). During these sessions it is important to see the house, the Au pair room, ask about their lifestyle, and have everything clear in terms of schedule, benefits and responsibilities.
Once you have done a MATCH with a family and you both agreed on it, the family should put you in contact with their agency. My family's agency is "AuPair International", which are the ones that work directly with Au pair World. The agency then will send a registration form (similar to the au pair world profile) and will schedule an interview with you via Skype to make sure you are qualified and once they have approved you they will start the paperwork. They guided me through the whole process, and asked me for all required documents and sent me all the forms to fill out. So you have an idea on the documents, they ask for: my passport, childcare reference, medical questionnaire, certificate of good conduct issued by my country's authorities, contract agreement, and flight information. There are other documents but they are forms the agency sends that you just need to read and sign of approval, in terms of the flight do not panic! Its okay if you have a one way ticket, but you need to sign an statement that you compromise to buy a return home ticket and you will return at the end of your au pair year.
I did all this process while I was still in Paris. I was hoping to go straight from there but that was not possible, I had to go back to Mexico to get a dutch visa. It would've been possible IF I had an au pair visa for France (or any other European country) but if you well remember I had a VT visa. So, once all the paperwork was complete they submitted my documents to the IND (Immigration office in the Netherlands) I proceed to schedule my appointment at the Dutch embassy in Mexico City.
Getting an appointment was super easy, and they had a lot of availability. I scheduled it for July 16th which was a Monday. For this appointment I had to bring with me: my passport, the visa application form, and 2 passport pictures. There's NO payment to be done. Before my appointment day the agency sent me a confirmation letter from the IND that they had approved my application so this basically means my visa was approved. The day of the appointment I arrived a little bit earlier and they were able to take me in, I gave the documents, they took my finger prints and told me they will call when I could go pick it up (NOTE: if you are from outside Mexico City, you must bring with you a prepaid shipping guide if you want it to have it sent to your address). So, this was a Monday and on Friday I had my visa ready to pick up!
So if you ask me: "How long did the process take?" Well, if you count since I started looking for family until I got my visa that was 5 months, but what it really took time was the family search! But just the visa process I would say 2 weeks after your documents are submitted, so that makes one week to wait for the IND decision, and one week for the visa to be issued after the appointment.
It seems very easy, and It actually is. There are just a lot of forms to fill out and a lot of documents to read/sign and then scan and email. They also asked me for some medical exams like tuberculosis, hepatitis and HIV and I had to take with me a certified birth certificate with an apostille and corresponding translation to English, this you will need once you are in the Netherlands and go register to the municipality to get your residence card.
I hope you find this post helpful! I tried to make it as detailed as possible, but in case I missed something you can always leave me a comment, sent an email or a DM on my social media.
Do not miss my next blog post where I talk more of the dutch life! and remember you can suscribe to the mailing list to receive notifications every time I submit a new blog post!