Homestay for High School students

International students (and some domestic students who are coming from outside of the Greater Nanaimo area without their families) live with local families as part of our Homestay program. The Vancouver Island University Homestay Department carefully screens and provides ongoing support to those families who take students from The High School at VIU.

The Homestay program is designed to promote friendship and language learning for students. It provides opportunities for cultural exchange between Canadians and international students who attend The High School at VIU.

Life in Homestay is just like being part of a family. Students are expected to join the family for meals, to take on their share of personal chores and to join the family for some activities and occasionally trips. Students are provided with three meals per day and some snacks. Students generally make their own breakfast and lunch and the host family will make dinner.

All students in Homestay will get their own furnished bedroom which includes a desk for studying. There are often two students in each Homestay family (each with their own bedroom). When there are two students in a Homestay they will always be from a different language or culture group.

The school Principal will usually provide custodianship to international high school students. Students should check with the Canadian Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence for specific custodianship requirements.

If the student plans to take an overnight trip outside of Nanaimo, the student must contact the High School principal to discuss his or her intended plans. 

If the Principal gives permission, the Principal and the student will sign the Permission Form. The student will take the signed Permission Form back to the Host Family for further discussion and final permission. If the Host Family does not approve of the plan, or if they have any questions or concerns about the student's welfare, they should contact the High School Principal directly.

VIU has a Homestay Department that assists students with the adjustment of living and studying in Canada. Students are well-supported and have many occasions to meet with the Homestay Coordinator. If students are having difficulty in Homestay, they should let the Homestay Coordinator know right away. If the student experiences serious problems, the Homestay Coordinator or Manager will arrange to move the student at the earliest opportunity.

In order to have a positive homestay experience, students are expected to learn, understand and follow the routines of the host as soon as possible. We suggest that students discuss any food likes or dislikes directly with the host. Most importantly, since hosts care about their students like their own children, students must always tell the host if they will be late for dinner, plan to arrive home late in the evening or if they will be away overnight. High School students who plan to go out of town without the host family are expected to get a permission slip signed by the host family and the High School Principal.

A home away from home - expectations of living in Homestay

Effective July 1, 2021


New students

Returning students

Non-refundable Application Fee


$275 (waived if no new placement)

Monthly homestay fees*



* Monthly fees must be paid prior to arrival and will be paid to homestay families on behalf of the student.

Students should plan to arrive at the Nanaimo Airport or a Nanaimo BC Ferry Terminal no more than 3-4 days before they begin their studies.

Students must complete the International Student Arrival Information form (page 7 of the Student Profile). Students must declare where and when they will arrive in Nanaimo in order to be matched with a host family.

If students are not making a connecting flight to the Nanaimo Airport (YCD) from the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and they would like assistance to any of the ferry services or harbour-to-harbour float planes, they can contact Beaton's Meet and Greet to reserve online.

The host family will meet the students at the point of entry to Nanaimo and take them home to get oriented.

We recommend that students depart 3-4 days after their program ends. Students can only live in Homestay if they are currently attending a THS or VIU program. If it is the summer vacation, for example, students are not eligible to continue living in the homestay program if they are not taking enrolled in a summer camp.

Students can request an early move in and a late move out. These must be approved by both the Homestay Manager and the THS Principal. Because THS students are minors, it is very important that they have this approval as the principal is their custodian.