From Iceland — Au Pair Nearly Deported For Leaving Family Who Overworked Her

Au Pair Nearly Deported For Leaving Family Who Overworked Her

Published March 30, 2022

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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The Immigration Appeals Board has overturned a ruling from the Directorate of Immigration (ÚTL) that sought to deny a residence permit for a Filipina woman who originally came to Iceland as an au pair but ended up leaving the family due to a lack of privacy and overworking, the family who hired her essentially breaking the terms she was originally hired on, RÚV reports.

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People aged 18 to 25 can apply for a residence permit in Iceland on the basis of being an au pair, and the official site for ÚTL details the terms and conditions for this. The woman in question was told by her host family that upon arrival, she would be given a room of her own, and would be expected to engage in some light cleaning and helping out with caring for the family’s children.

Upon arrival, a whole other situation arose. The woman was not given a room for her own but rather a small storage area, which instead of a door had a sheet. Furthermore, members of the family regularly walked in and out of this makeshift living space at all hours.

In addition, she was tasked with doing nearly all the housework for the family, including washing their cars. The cleaning alone would have her working from about 8:00 in the morning until 14:00 in the afternoon. The children would come home about two hours after that, and then she would be expected to attend to nearly all the childrens’ needs. Her day would finally finish around 20:30 or 21:00.

When the au pair complained that these were not the terms she was hired for, her host mother said that she would be released from her contract only if she paid back the money she had already been paid. The au pair did not accept these terms, and instead went to live with the host family of a friend. This family sought to hire her as an au pair as well, but were told by ÚTL that they could not hire her until her previous contract was terminated, which the previous host family had refused to do.

As such, this au pair faced being stripped of her residence permit, but she appealed the matter to the Immigration Appeals Board. The board concluded that, as her previous host family had broken the terms of the employment agreement, the au pair had every right to terminate the contract without delay, and could be hired by the new host family. As such, the board struck down the decision from ÚTL as not being in harmony with existing immigration law.

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