Friday, January 21

To be wound up: 343 au pairs are waiting for an answer

More than 300 au pair applications are pending with the UDI. At the same time, the Ministry of Justice is working to phase out the scheme.

The au pair Anne Wanderi does so-called “light housework” every day, such as vacuuming and filling the dishwasher.

The Ministry of Justice is now in the process of looking at how they will phase out the au pair scheme and says they will come up with a proposal at a later date.

The government stated that they will phase out the scheme in the Hurdal platform. Together with SV, they have the majority on their side.

State Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Astrid Bergmål (Labor Party), is critical of the scheme and believes it no longer fulfills its purpose.

– The purpose of the scheme is cultural exchange, but in reality this has become a scheme where women, primarily from the Philippines, come to work as housekeepers and babysitters for cheap money, she says.

Astrid Bergmål is critical of the au pair scheme.

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Since 2017, Caritas has run an au pair support center on behalf of the UDI. There, au pairs can get advice, support and clarifications about the regulations.

The organization says they do not recognize themselves in the government’s description of the scheme.

They believe the scheme is very important for au pairs as it is one of the few opportunities they have to experience living in a European country. Rather, they want a number of improvements, such as supervision, and that it will be easier to change host family.

The head of the support center, Lara Isabel Tudurí Berg, says that around 3-4 percent of the inquiries they receive annually are about problems between the host family and the au pair.

She mentions poor chemistry, lack of communication and too much work as some examples.

Kristin Velure Strøm (left) says the organization does not recognize itself in the government’s description of the scheme.

343 families are waiting for an au pair

According to figures from the UDI, up to and including 22 November, 343 au pair applications have not yet been decided. A total of 272 of the applicants are from the Philippines, 25 are from Thailand, and 6 are from Vietnam.

The Ministry states that they only process applications from au pairs who are already in Norway for various reasons, or who are exempt from the entry restrictions.

The remaining applications will not be processed until the entry restrictions are lifted. This applies to some of these applications, the UDI states.

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Bergmål emphasizes that the au pair scheme is still running as normal. She can not come up with a date for when applications will no longer be received or processed.

– When it comes to unprocessed applications that are with the UDI, we will never dwell on the outcome of individual cases. We do not have access to that. The case processing runs as usual according to current rules until new rules are issued.

This means that for the time being, the au pairs and the host families have to wait for the borders to reopen so that the applications can be processed.

– We are now looking at how we can do this in a proper way, and we are keen to take into account the au pairs who are already here. We will come back with proposals for how the liquidation can be done, including we will also consider transitional arrangements, says the Secretary of State.

When asked what kind of transitional arrangements may be relevant, Bergmål answers that she can not say anything more concrete now.

Anne Wanderi has worked as an au pair for a total of three families, in both Denmark and Norway.

Does not recognize himself in the stories

Anne Wanderi has been an au pair in Norway for one year, but has previously worked as an au pair in Denmark.

She does not recognize herself in the stories of abuse, but says that the scheme should be changed so that it becomes more difficult to abuse it. She admits to having heard other au pairs complain about working conditions.

– The scheme can be abused due to misunderstandings, such as working long hours and not having free time. Most of the time I think the problems in the scheme come mostly from communication errors. I was also not good at communicating when I was first an au pair, says Wanderi.

– I feel I have become more independent

Wanderi is aware that she has had good experiences with her host families as an au pair. She and the host family actively contribute to a cultural exchange, she believes.

– You create a connection to others that you would never otherwise have met, you become part of something, says Wanderi.

She herself has experienced the au pair scheme as very positive. She says that the scheme is especially good for young people who otherwise would not have been able to travel to experience other cultures.

– Being in this very diverse environment, and having to challenge myself, I think has made me a better person, says Wanderi.

Wanderi thinks it is a pity that the scheme should be abolished, and will, like Caritas, have a number of changes.

She adds that the learning curve has been steep in meeting a new country. Despite this, she is happy.

– I feel I have become more independent, and I have learned a lot. You learn to manage a household and have gained a deeper understanding of parenting styles through the host families. It’s a pretty cool skill to have, because it’s going to help me in the future.

On the day Wanderi finishes as an au pair, she plans to return to Kenya to begin a master’s degree in design.

For her, the end as an au pair is approaching, at least in Norway. So does the au pair scheme.

Reference-www.aftenposten.no

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