VIU Homestay student and bedroom

Homestay Host Resources

Welcome to the VIU Homestay Program's resource hub for current host families. This page has commonly used forms, information about preparing for a new student's arrival, addressing challenges with students, and more.

Physical copies of most resources can be requested from the VIU Homestay Program by VIU host families, or on their behalf by their students from the Homestay & Off-Campus Housing Office in Building 255, Centre for International Education. Office hours are from 8AM to 4PM, Monday to Friday. Documents can be mailed to individuals unable to make it in person!

Don't see something that you'd like? Contact the VIU Homestay Program by phone at 250-740-6159 or by email at!

Homestay Host Resources

The Homestay Change Form

A student and host's homestay contract is from the Start Date to the End Date on the student's Homestay Match Letter and Fee Schedule. To extend the contract or end it early, a student needs to complete a Homestay Change Form (formerly Moving Notification Form and Request for Extension) with the homestay host.  The form must be submitted to the Homestay Program at least 30 days before the earlier of: the original contract end date or the new requested end date.

Of note, the provisions of the Residential Tenancy Act do not apply to Homestay, thus it allows us some discretion to address any problems in a timelier fashion. Please see page 21 in the Hosting Experience Manual for more information on student, host, and the Homestay Program’s responsibilities.

The Homestay Change Form needs to be filled and submitted for any of the following scenarios:

  • To stay in homestay beyond the contract end date.
  • To move out of homestay before the contract end date.
  • To move out of homestay for a period of time, such as to return home or complete an internship in another city, and then return to the host’s home.
  • The host has given notice to the student to move out before the contract end date.

Once the change request has been approved, a new Fee Schedule will be sent to the student and homestay host.

Contact the Homestay Program with any questions about the Homestay Change Form.

Moving Checklist

Before a student moves out of a host's home, students and hosts are encouraged to print the Move-Out Checklist and use it as a guide to prepare for the student's move.

Please let the Homestay Program know about the hosting experience! It is helpful to hear about both activities done with students and any aspects that were challenging about a placement. Evaluations help in matching future placements for a homestay host.

VIU Homestay Host Evaluation of Student Form

The Host Family is responsible for arranging to meet and greet their student at the student’s point of entry to Nanaimo and drop them off for their departure at: the Nanaimo Airport, a BC Ferry Terminal, a bus terminal, float plane terminal, or in some instances, at VIU, or an affiliated campus. Homestay hosts are asked to identify themselves with a sign. Bright-coloured copies of the Greeting Sign can be requested from the Homestay Program or printed at home. Click on the image below to download the sign.

VIU Homestay Greeting Sign

Below are examples of Household Guidelines to help hosts write their own guidelines for students. Every homestay host is different, and therefore the rules will differ. Hosts are required to have written guidelines to be presented to the student in order to help communicate household expectations in writing which will be a resource students and hosts can go back to review. Click on the examples below to download and edit them.

Homestay House Guidelines Example

Homestay House Guidelines Example with Icons

Damages are an eventuality when welcoming other people into one's home. Hosts who encounter a situation where there is damage caused in their home by a student need to submit a damage claim to the VIU Homestay Program. 

Damage claims are reviewed by the Homestay Program. Some damages may be assessed as wear and tear in which case a student would not be expected to provide compensation for the damage in question.

Please contact the VIU Homestay Program for more information.

VIU Homestay Program Damage Claim Guidelines

Homestay hosts are required to read, sign, and agree to the conditions of the Letter of Agreement (LOA) in order to participate in the program. Hosts are encouraged to review the LOA on a regular basis. 

VIU Host Family Letter of Agreement

The Hosting Experience Manual acts as a support and resource for homestay hosts to provide the best hosting experience. Being familiar with the content is part of each host's responsibility, as outlined in the VIU Homestay Host Letter of Agreement. The current edition of the manual is from May/June 2019. Click here to view the latest version.

Preparing for a Student's Arrival

Once the VIU Homestay Program has matched a host with a student, the staff sends Match Letters to the student and host with further information about the placement. The host letter will include important information such as the anticipated length of stay for the student, their arrival date and location, and more. Please read this carefully.

The host is required to pick up the student at the student’s point of entry to Nanaimo or designated location which may include but is not limited to: the Nanaimo Airport, a BC Ferry Terminal, a bus terminal, float plane terminal, at VIU or an affiliated campus.

Please meet your student with an easily identifiable sign with the student’s full name.

Once a host has picked up a student and returned home, the student should be given a tour of the home and how things work. The student will likely be tired, overwhelmed and in an unfamiliar environment, so keep the initial tour to the essentials. Provide them with the information they need to know right away. Then give them time to rest.

The VIU Homestay Program recommends preparing a small welcome basket for the student's room. Great things to include are a welcome letter or card from the host, a copy of your household rules, instructions on how to access the internet, and a few small snacks/beverages. Including a family picture with each family member's name can be very helpful for a student to learn everyone's names.

Typically on the day after a student arrives, after the student has had a some time to rest, hosts should begin to introduce the remainder of the household guidelines and rules. Having written copies of household guidelines is very helpful for many students so that they can refer back to them later. When they arrive, the student receives a lot of new information from the homestay host, the Homestay Program, VIU, and their classes. It can be challenging to remember everything!

The VIU Homestay Program recommends checking in with a student one week after move-in revisiting the household guidelines and rules. The host and student will start to have an idea of what rules are working and what might need tweaking so adjustments can be discussed and made so everyone is comfortable in the home. Often students find it difficult to bring up a rule that is not working for them, so it is best to check in with students regularly.

Please review pages 7-12 of the Hosting Experience Manual to help prepare and anticipate some of the student's needs.

Students may be uncertain what food and snacks are available to them in the home. Creating cabinet space where food items that are specifically for the student can go will help them know they can "help themselves." The phrases help yourself and make yourself at home are unfamiliar for a lot of students. Some students might see themselves as guests in the home and have a difficult time breaking out of that mindset.

Showers, bathtubs, and toilets may work differently in the student’s home country, so the student may need an explanation/ demonstration. Some cultures do not put used toilet paper in the toilet (it is put in the waste basket), so the student may need to be shown the preferred disposal procedures. Similarly, the student might need to be asked to close the bathroom door or place the shower curtain inside the tub when the showering.

Hosts may want to check in with your student and ask if they are warm enough at night. Canadians tend to keep their homes cooler than many students are used to. Not every culture uses fitted sheets, top sheets, and layered blankets. In the summer, hosts may want to check that students are not too hot at night as many students come from countries where homes have air conditioning. A fan might help the student be more comfortable on hot nights.

Check that the student has been able to email or send a message home. Your student may need help on the first day they arrive if they have difficulty logging into your Wi-Fi.

Additional Resources

The VIU Homestay Program sends out a regular newsletter. The newsletter is sent monthly or bimonthly depending on how much news the program has to share.

To subscribe to the newsletter or to read past updates, please visit here: VIU Homestay Newsletter.

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