Future Homestay Hosts

Become a Homestay Host

Wonderful local families provide support and assistance while International students adapt to the lifestyle and demands of Canadian culture and the Nanaimo Community. Those interested in becoming hosts are encouraged to read through this information.

Check out the Learn about Hosting section below to find out more about the hosting experience, and the benefits and responsibilities involved.

Application Details

Any family, couple or single person (over the age of 25), with or without children, can apply.

Hosts must live near the University. Homestay hosts should be less than 45 minutes by bus. This includes walking time from home to the bus stop. Host families must also meet the Home Requirements listed below.

The VIU Homestay Host Application is a comprehensive process to ensure the best possible experiences for students and also to support and prepare hosts. 

Applications are processed in the order they are completed and take into consideration the following:

  • Proximity to Vancouver Island University
  • Willingness to host either male or female
  • Willingness to host either High School or University students
  • Willingness to host students from any country
  • Willingness to host students with particular dietary practices/restrictions
  • Willingness to eat dinner with your students on nightly basis
  • Willingness to invite students in family activities 
  • Meet proper home requirements
  • Meet application deadlines
  • References



Application Deadlines

Homestay Start Date

Spring 2022

Applications open now

Various move-in dates (Feb-Apr)*




*Due to the ongoing pandemic, VIU Homestay cannot guarantee student placements for new or current homestay hosts.

Hosting: An Intercultural Perspective

"Hosting international students has been a fantastic cultural experience for our whole family. We love that hosting our international students gives our children in-house exposure to other cultures. Every night at the dinner table we get to know our students and their culture. At the same time we get to share our Canadian culture with them." -Watson Family

Click here to apply to be a VIU Homestay Host

Learn about Hosting

At this time, the VIU Homestay Program is looking for hosts in 2021. There may be some opportunities to host in the summer, but the fall is more likely.  Normally new hosts are guaranteed short-term students shortly after completing the onboarding requirements (e.g. summer).  Unfortunately, with so much still unknown because of COVID-19, we cannot guarantee any student placements. 

The application process is lengthy and thorough to meet Languages Canada mandates, BC Homestay Guidelines, and University and Provincial policy. Homestay hosts are an extension of the VIU community, and we do our best to prepare them for the various needs of our student population. Below, you will see the application steps and timeline for 2021 hosting. 

Students travelling to Canada must quarantine for 14 days as required under the Quarantine Act. The Homestay Program anticipates offering quarantine through homestay. We are asking hosts and potential hosts to self-identify if you are eligible and willing to facilitate quarantine in your home. Eligibility criteria is set out by the Government of Canada. Review the Government of Canada’s restrictions on who can provide a quarantine space under the section titled “You MUST have a suitable place to quarantine where you”.  Please let us know if you would be able to offer a space to quarantine for incoming students.  Those unable to offer quarantine may still be able to host students.

In accordance with privacy legislation, VIU students, hosts, and employees will not be asked if they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 or any other illnesses, and no one will be required to provide that information to each other.  COVID-19 is a known risk and should be considered when thinking of hosting during the pandemic.


Host Application Stages



Fill out and submit online host application before June 11.


Document Collection:

  • Family photo of all members in the home, including pets
  • Photo of the front of the house
  • Photos of student bedroom including closet(s) and desk/dresser drawer(s)
  • Signed Letter of Agreement



Schedule a virtual interview by Zoom to be attended by everyone who intends to fill the role as “host” to students.


Criminal Record Checks:

To be completed before home visit

CRC (Criminal Record Check, with the Vulnerable Sector Verification, for anyone in the home of 18 years or older).  Email a copy of CRCs to homestay@viu.ca.



Home Visit (in-person):

To be completed by June 18

Book Home Visit.  A member of the VIU Homestay Program staff will come to tour the home in person and view student bedroom(s).

Home visits cannot be completed until CRCs have been received.


New Host Orientation

Attend a 3-hour training session on June 22, 2021 5:30-8:30 pm on Homestay Policies, Cross-Cultural Communication, and Emergency Policies. Successful candidates will receive an invitation to register for training. This is to be attended by everyone who intends to fill the role as “host” to students (usually all adults in the home).


If you want more information regarding the program, please check out our website or email us your questions.  We look forward to working with you!


Host Responsibilities

  • Provide each student with a clean, stable family environment.

  • Offer reasonable use of the house and amenities as enjoyed by the homestay host's own children of similar age or, if no such children in the host home, as appropriate for someone of the student’s age.

  • Provide each student, except those on a “homestay without meals” arrangement, a variety of nutritional, well-balanced food, which is accessible in their home so the student can prepare breakfast and lunch for themselves. When possible, homestay hosts are encouraged to supply dietary staples from the Student’s home country, but junk food, allergenic and diet-sensitive products such as dietary supplements, vitamins, lactose-intolerant or diabetic replacement foods are the responsibility of the student to purchase. If eating out as a family, the host is responsible for paying for the student’s meal.

  • Provide dinner each night for all students except those on a “homestay without meals” arrangement. Hosts and students are expected to eat together as a family each night. Hosts are to communicate to their students what time a student is to inform the host when they will not be home for dinner.

  • Make cross-cultural exchange the primary consideration for hosting, not being dependent on homestay fees to meet primary financial obligations.

  • Provide an English-speaking environment and encourage students to speak English in the home.

  • Respect the rights, privacy, and culture of the student including religious and political beliefs.

  • Include students in family activities, outings, and social or community activities.

  • Pick up the student at their arrival point (Nanaimo airport, ferry terminal, or VIU designated spot) and arrange for transportation for departure.

  • Assist with emergency medical treatment of the student (guided by VIU and The High School at VIU).

  • Give clear house rules and expectations in simple, written and spoken formats, consistent with other family members and VIU practices.

  • Keep the VIU Homestay Program informed of any changes in the home (new pets, children moving out, renovations etc.).

  • Attend New and Returning Host Orientations/Training sessions.

  • Read and sign the Homestay Host Letter of Agreement and read the Hosting Experience Manual.

Homestay staff will do their best to match students and hosts appropriately and to facilitate healthy relationships between them. The number of student placements per term will depend on the number of new students arriving. Hosts with available rooms at any given term may not be guaranteed a student.

  • Brings the world to the host's home and family

  • Develops life-long relationships with people from other countries

  • Is an opportunity to experience ethnic foods

  • Infuses hosts' lives with unique perspectives of the world 

  • Is a cultural exchange 

  • Provides an opportunity to help a person from another country learn and practise English

  • Show off Vancouver Island

  • Help people from other cultures survive and thrive in Canada

Homestay without meals is all of the above, but for experienced hosts, where students use the host family’s cooking facilities and equipment and do their own shopping, cooking and clean-up. Usually these students are more independent or have special dietary requirements.

Hosts must provide:

  • A clean, orderly, pleasant and safe living environment including a private bedroom (not used for any other purpose such as storage or guest room) with natural sunlight, a window suitable for egress as per the BC Building Code, and a dresser, closet, night table, lamp, bed, and desk or suitable area for quiet study (not required to be in the bedroom),

  • Access to a private or shared bathroom that is clean and hygienic with adequate fixtures that are in good repair,

  • Each bedroom is to have a window. Such windows shall provide an unobstructed opening of not less than 380 mm (15”) in height or width and .35 m² (543”) in area and maintain such an opening during an emergency without the need for additional support,

  • Bedroom ceiling height of 6'6",

  • Wireless Internet access,

  • Access to a landline telephone or an emergency cell phone (always charged, kept in the same place capable of calling 911),

  • Access to in-home working laundry facilities and clear instructions on usage,

  • Access to cleaning supplies and instructions for students on their use to clean bedrooms and bathrooms,

  • Use of family articles, such as laundry soap, toilet paper, etc. Student special requests or needs are not included and the student must pay for such items themselves,

  • Smoke alarms located between the bedroom and living room on each floor,

  • Updated and current home-owner or renter's insurance,

  • Where the student is on a “homestay without meals” plan, clean working facilities (including appliances) for the student to prepare meals and clean storage spaces to store and refrigerate food,

  • A key to the house (and to their bedroom, if a lock is installed),

The Homestay program reserves the right to choose hosts using these criteria and to remove hosts from the program who fail to continue to meet these criteria.

The homestay host receives $900 per month for each University and Adult THS student and $950 per month for each student of The High School at VIU (THS). Homestay without meals hosts receive $600 per month. When students are matched, they and the host are provided a fee schedule indicating the amount that will be paid to the host. Students pay fees to VIU in advance, and VIU pays hosts monthly on the students' behalf.

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. If there are questions or hesitations, hosts are encouraged to discuss them with the Homestay Program staff before signing. Please sign and return the LOA to the Homestay Program office at VIU or email to homestay@viu.ca.

Download the copy below:

Homestay Host Letter of Agreement 2019-2022.pdf

Part of hosting with the VIU Homestay program is agreeing to the host expectations and responsibilities and understanding  the Hosting Experience Manual.  The manual acts as a support and resource for host families to provide the best hosting experience. This most current edition is from May 2019.




Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, host information sessions have been temporarily suspended. Please contact the Homestay Program for more information about becoming a homestay host.

Making the Right Choice for You: If reading this information means that you feel that you would be a great fit for our program, please apply. However we recognize that participating as a Host family to host a High School student or university student may not work for every families needs or schedules.  Other options, may include posting your room or house for rent on Places4Students which is VIU's  preferred off campus housing listing service for students. To talk more about renting to students please email ie.housing@viu.ca