Which country is the AU

Corona is currently ruining many plans, but sometimes it is particularly bitter, for example when you are very close to the goal. Like Tika. Only two days left, then the 24-year-old Georgian would have got her passport back from the German embassy. The pick-up date was already on the calendar. The visa for Germany would have been stuck in the passport. Then she would look after Ines Schroeder's three children for about 30 hours a week in Munich, live with the family, get a few hundred euros in pocket money, attend a language course and get to know a new country and culture. But 48 hours before the appointment, Germany declared Georgia a risk area. Stricter entry requirements came into force immediately. For Tika that meant: out of the dream.

For Ines Schroeder and her husband it was said: three children aged ten, seven and three would soon be without care, at least temporarily. Schroeder is a senior physician in one of the corona intensive care units in Munich's GroƟhadern University Hospital. As a doctor in a leading position, her husband is also responsible for the treatment of corona patients. Without an au pair, says Schroeder, the family's everyday life is almost impossible to cope with.

Schroeder did what she could, she phoned the embassy in Georgia, the Foreign Office, the Federal Border Police - without success. She currently works 75 percent. Should the clinic, as in the spring, call doctors and nurses to increase, "I would have to pass," says Schroeder.

Some people recruit au pairs from other families out of desperation

Like the 43-year-old and her husband, many families are currently doing, especially health workers. Because of their working hours, they often employ au pairs - usually. But since March hardly any have been brokered in Germany, due to strict entry restrictions, but also because many smaller agencies abroad have already fallen victim to the pandemic. Working parents need support between jobs, the constant threat of quarantine and homeschooling, more urgently than ever. Especially when the grandparents who usually stand in are also absent. For some families, an au pair is the only way to achieve a balance between work and family. "I just don't understand why the girls can't be quarantined after they've arrived," says Schroeder. The cost of testing, quarantine at the hotel - they would pay for everything if necessary.

Au pair associations and agencies are just as at a loss. "Why should au pairs run a higher risk than students?" Asks Sandrine Link, Chairwoman of the Au Pair Society, because students from third countries are now allowed to re-enter. Also au pairs from EU countries, they have been allowed to come back since July. "But a girl from Spain or Italy can also have Corona," says Link. In any case, European female applicants make up less than half of the normally around 15,000 au pairs who come to Germany every year. And usually they only stay for a few months and not a whole year. Most au pairs in Germany usually come from Colombia and Georgia, followed by Ukraine, Russia, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Brazil and Vietnam.

No wonder then that the waiting lists at the recruitment agencies are currently long. Very long. On the net, under #AuPairIsNotTourism, there are numerous pleading requests from host families and au pairs to please let them back into the country as soon as possible. Some host families are even so desperate that they entice young women who are already in the country with an au pair visa from other families.

The au pair associations have now written a letter to Horst Seehofer

Associations, agencies and host families had already sent letters to Berlin and set up petitions in the summer, but without great success. Au pairs are allowed to come from third countries that are on the so-called "positive list" - currently Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Uruguay - "but we hardly ever have applicants from these countries," says Christina Hirschmann from Familienservice, an agency for au pairs.

More than 200 organizations that mediate au pairs in Germany and abroad therefore wrote another letter to Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer at the end of October. It says: "Many young people have been waiting for a long time to come here in order to deepen their language skills and get to know the German culture and way of life with a German family. Even under the current restrictions, this is still very possible." The entry of au pairs, according to the demand, should be treated on an equal footing with students from third countries. "This is already possible in our neighboring countries such as Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands."

It will be checked, says the ministry

In response to a request, the Federal Ministry of the Interior refers to the "Recommendation of the Council on the temporary restriction of non-essential travel to the EU and the possible lifting of this restriction" of June 30, 2020. A spokeswoman said that this should be adhered to. However, the European Commission published interpretative notes on this Council recommendation on October 28th. The federal government is currently examining whether this results in a need for changes for national implementation, also with a view to au pairs.

"They already said about checking in the summer," says Sandrine Link, chairwoman of the Au Pair Society. Still, she has not given up hope that her letter to Horst Seehofer will make a difference this time.

Ines Schroeder and her husband had to come up with something else in the meantime. With three different babysitters, Schroeder now sets up a sophisticated care plan week after week. It's wobbly, exhausting and prone to failure - but better than nothing.