A homestay host with 3 students pose on rented bicycles in downtown Victoria

Become a homestay host

Are you looking to broaden your cultural experiences? 

What if you could do it from your very own home? Bringing people together from different cultures is what keeps us educated, creates meaningful connections and opens our eyes to new perspectives. Our staff are dedicated professionals who work hard to ensure that our local hosts and international students enjoy cultural exchanges. UVic Homestay matches over 1,600 students per year with local families in our program.

As a UVic Homestay host, you will share your unique Canadian lifestyle with young people around the world and be part of a special community. Our program welcomes all types of people who are looking to make a positive impact in the world—from parents with children at home, to empty nesters, single adults and couples of all orientations. You’ll have the opportunity to make new friends, learn about other cultures and create long-lasting memories.  

WATCH VIDEO: What it's like to be a homestay host

An award-winning program

The award-winning UVic Homestay program has been operating for over 35 years. We are now one of the largest internal homestay providers in the country, having worked with over 3,000 hosts to provide comfortable soft landings, English enrichment and cultural exchange opportunities for more than 25,000 international students from nearly 100 countries to date. Over 1,600 students are matched every year with local families around Victoria where quality cultural experiences are created.

The homestay program provides our hosts with support and guidance before and during each placement. We offer…

  • excellent support services – including orientation and community-building opportunities
  • updated policies and guidelines – to keep both hosts and students safe
  • increased compensation – to match rising costs of living – $1,350/month (see details in “How are hosts compensated?” section below). 

Our staff

Homestay staff are dedicated professionals who work hard to ensure that our local hosts and international students have the best cultural exchange possible. The homestay program provides you with all the support and guidance you need to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Why become a homestay host?

Benefits to becoming a host:

  • Learn about other cultures and share your own 
  • Establish lasting friendships with people from other countries 
  • Share your favourite parts of Victoria and the West Coast 
  • Help students improve their English and learn about life in Canada 

What is the role of a host?

If you’re interested in becoming a host, you should have a genuine desire to open your home and share your family life and customs. You will provide students with care and support as they adjust to a new culture and language.

It’s the little things that make our students’ stay in your home special: walking the dog, helping with dinner, attending local events, hiking, shopping, spending quality time together. Hosting a student doesn’t take anything extraordinary—you can provide them with what they need just by being yourself!

As a host, you are required to:

  • create a safe, comfortable and friendly home for students
  • provide students with a private, furnished bedroom (maximum four students per home*)
  • supply students with food for all meals and snacks
  • provide basic wireless internet for student use
  • help students adjust to living in a new culture
  • involve students in family activities
  • pick up students when they arrive in Victoria and drop them off at their departure location when they leave Victoria
  • always speak English and encourage students to practice their English
  • live within a 60-85-minute bus ride to the University of Victoria**
  • live close to regular bus routes with bus stops accessible by approximately a 10-minute walk
  • adhere to the UVic Homestay Guidelines for Hosts

*Families hosting four students must have two washrooms for student use.

**If you live in the 60- to 85-minute commute range, you will only be considered for student placements during peak times: February, March, August and September. We do not guarantee student placements.

Read about Joanne and Mike's experience hosting homestay students.

Read article

How are hosts compensated?

All payments are listed in Canadian currency. 

  • Hosts are compensated $1,350 per month for programs longer than a full month, and $45 per night for extra nights or partial months.  

How do I apply to become a UVic Homestay host?

If you speak English fluently, live within our location boundaries and can make the commitment to host students, we encourage you to join our community! Follow these three steps to apply:

Step 1: Expression of interest

Please start by completing the simple expression of interest online form indicating your home address. We will review your submission to make sure your home is located within our current location boundaries, and then contact you with a host contractor application form.

Step 2: Host Contractor Application Form

Once we have contacted you, please complete the detailed host contractor application form. Please also provide us with two reference letters and a completed police information check (with the vulnerable sector check). You can apply for police information checks through your local police department.

Step 3: Home visit

Once your application package has been submitted, a member of the UVic Homestay program will conduct a home visit. We will meet and interview your family, tour the home to ensure it is a safe environment that meets our requirements, and answer any questions you may have.

COVID-19 Notice

Policies and procedures may change during COVID-19. For up-to-date information, please view Homestay requirements during COVID-19

Additional FAQ

Ministry of Justice Criminal Record Reviews are restricted to charges and convictions only, and do not check for police files which include:

  • Incidents of Mental health
  • Negative interactions with police
  • Allegations of sexual assault
  • Reports of domestic violence

The above are key insights into vetting prospective hosts for our homestay program. Hosts in our program are required to submit PICs every 5 years.

The UVic Homestay Program always does its best to match students with hosts who have similar interests and preferences. Students are placed in homestays that, given the information known at the time and provided in the application form, best match the needs of the student and the homestay host.  Health concerns or issues will be prioritized for matches. 

Please note: The UVic Homestay Program adheres to the University of Victoria’s Policy on Human Rights, Equity and Fairness (GV0200). The University promotes a safe, respectful and supportive learning and working environment for all members of the university community. The University fosters an environment characterized by fairness, openness, equity, and respect for the dignity and diversity of its members. The University strives to be a place that is free of discrimination and harassment, injustice and violence. The strength and vibrancy of the University is found in the diverse life experiences, backgrounds and worldviews of all its members.

The University endeavours to provide the best possible educational experience for all of its students. The academic excellence for which the University strives is unattainable without human rights, equity, fairness and diversity. These values are a foundation for achieving excellence.

Please note that:  

  • Your homestay student may be from different backgrounds and will have different life experiences and world views.
  • Hosts are not able to provide specialty foods such as protein powders and bars, supplements, halal foods, etc. These will need to be purchased by the student.

Anyone affiliated with the University of Victoria who is 18+ years of age can choose Homestay. The majority of the students we place are EAL (English as an Additional Language) learners between the ages of 18–25. We also have visiting researchers and faculty that may be 30–60 years of age. Most of our students are from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Mexico and Brazil, and we also place students from Quebec that are here to learn English. Our program has placed students from over 30 countries.

The two main types of students we place are those registered in the English Language Centre (ELC) or in degree programs at UVic.

Students at the ELC may be here for short-term or long-term programs:

  • Short-term students are typically here for 3–6 weeks.  Our shortest placement is one week.
  • Long-term students are typically here for 9–12 weeks.  Students may register in several consecutive short-term or long-term programs, or a combination of both, thus staying in Victoria for several months.

Degree programs:

  • Students in degree programs are typically here for one term (September–December or January–April) although some are here for a full academic year (September–April).  Students in degree programs represent a small percentage of placements.

We want you to have the best experience possible with your student.  If you have issues or concerns regarding your student, please make sure that you talk to them in a positive and constructive manner so that you can solve the problem together.   If a resolution cannot be found, hosts are encouraged to speak to a homestay coordinator to explore ways to resolve the issue or conflict. 

Our program staff can refer students to counsellors so that they are provided with professional care and support. Additional services offered to students include meetings with personal safety officers, counselling services, mental health practitioners, chaplains, etc.  These services are offered as part of the University of Victoria’s student services, and bear no additional charge to students.

At the end of their program, Students complete evaluations on their homestay experience. UVic homestay may contact hosts if follow-up is required. Host are welcome to contact UVic Homestay for feedback.  Students will be asked questions regarding comfort level of the home, food provided, activities and interaction with the host family, communication, and overall experience. We also ask students whether they would recommend their family to other students.