Hosting FAQ

Residents of the Comox Valley 25 years old and over of good reputation with available space can apply to be an International Student Program Host.

As a homestay parent you are expected to provide essentially what you would normally provide for your own family:

  • a private bedroom
  • three wholesome meals a day and snacks as required
  • a quiet, adequately lit and heated study space
  • hot water and facilities for daily bathing
  • laundry (you may expect a student to do their own laundry if you wish)
  • emotional support if the student suffers from homesickness, difficulties at school, etc.
  • academic support (help with homework if possible, communication with teachers, attendance at parent-teacher-student interview, etc.)
  • inclusion of the student in family outings, trips to restaurants, special occasions, recreational activities
  • access to the common living areas of the house

An international student can study in the Comox Valley International Student Program from one (1) week to twelve (12) months. The majority of students student for a full school year which is ten (10) months; September to June. You can also have students stay with you for one (1) or two (2) months during the Comox Valley International Summer Program in July and August.

International students are eligible for homestay from grade six (6) to grade twelve (12). Grade six (6) students will be carefully screened by the District Principal of International Education or designate to show they have the academic and social potential/maturity to be successful. Students below grade six (6) may enroll in the Comox Valley International Student Program provided he or she lives with a natural parent or another adult family member.

You will receive a monthly honorarium, a homestay orientation session once per year, and the on-going support of the Comox Valley International Student Program homestay staff.

Your driving record, also called a driver’s abstract, is a record of your basic driving history. It lists when your driver’s licence was first issued, plus any driving tickets or other offences you’ve received in the last five years. All driver’s abstracts are provided free of charge. Go to the ICBC driver licensing website for detailed information about getting your driver’s abstract.

In Person:
By Phone:

The CVISP requires a current criminal record check (CRC) (within the last five (5) years) on file for all homestay family household members age 19 and older. This includes any adult who subsequently takes up residence in your household. You should apply for a CRC after you have had a home visit from a CVISP homestay coordinator.

How do I obtain a criminal record check (CRC)?

To obtain your CRC and submit it to the CVISP follow these steps:

  1. Go to the BC Ministry of Justice website
  2. Read the instructions provided at this website
  3. Enter the access code 3PMYSBDFL2 where prompted
  4. Enter the characters shown and requested
  5. Click “Request a New Criminal Record Check” if you have never requested one before, or click “Share the result of a Completed Criminal Record Check” if you have requested one before.
  6. Your CRC will then be automatically sent to a CVISP program worker for processing.

Should you be asked to have a more in depth check completed, including fingerprints, you will need to complete this process at your own cost.

Students come for a variety of reasons:

  • as a member of an exchange program
  • for a one-year intensive English program
  • to become more fluent in English, which will lead to greater employment opportunities in their home countries
  • to achieve BC Graduation for various reasons
  • to experience Canadian culture and lifestyle
  • the desire to experience life abroad

Suggestions: Talk to your student about her/his reasons for coming. Help to set academic goals and language goals based on those reasons. Help to make a plan, which will lead to success in achieving the goals.

  • clothes
  • school supplies and extra-curricular lessons or activities
  • toiletries
  • all long distance phone calls. Many students arrange to have their own phone, in which case they
    • also pay the installation fees and monthly bills. Others buy phone cards.
    • medicines and medications of all kinds
    • any dental work
  • haircuts or other personal services
  • personal entertainment and expenses (If your family is going out for dinner or to a movie you should pay for the student. If the student chooses to eat in a restaurant or go to a movie with friends, the student should pay.)
  • costs associated with participation in school-sponsored activities such as graduation ceremonies,
  • school dances, trips other than those specific to the international program, extra-curricular sports, costs related to individual certification, etc.
  • stamps, books, magazines, CD’s, posters, etc.
  • costs related to renewal of student study permits and airplane tickets home
  • grad fees
  • yearbook purchase

The Program covers the following:

  • all tuition
  • medical insurance fees
  • some activities arranged by the International Program

Students may suffer from several overlapping conditions for the first few weeks or in some cases, even months:

Culture Shock: Culture shock is what people experience when they are suddenly immersed in a culture which is different from their own. “Culture” means the largely unwritten patterns of behavior that govern the lives of a particular group of people.

  • Culture shock comes from the realization that basic assumptions about life and familiar ways of behaving are no longer appropriate or useful.
  • Remember that your student is struggling with the following new (and in many cases, strange) things: language, climate, community, customs, food, home, family, behaving and ways of showing emotions. It is worth noting that if you as a host family have had little experience in another culture, then you may experience some culture shock yourselves.

Jet lag: most students have traveled through several time zones to reach the Comox Valley. They may suffer from the effects of jet lag for up to two weeks, including sleeping problems, drowsiness at the wrong time of day, loss of appetite, general fatigue, and disorientation.

Homesickness: many students have left their family, friends and pets for the first time, and they are far away. Natural feelings of homesickness may be further exacerbated by culture shock.

Loneliness: students may feel very alone in this strange new situation. They may feel like outsiders in the community, in the school, even in your home. Limited English ability may contribute to their feelings of isolation.

Teenage mood swings: even though they come from another country, they are still teenagers dealing with the physical and emotional changes that all teenagers go through.

All of the above may exhibit themselves in any of the following ways: quiet, unresponsive, withdrawn behaviour, crying spells, isolation from the family (long periods alone in the bedroom), lack of appetite, despondent behaviour, depression, anger, anxiety, moodiness, lethargy, stress related headaches or stomach upset.


  • If you suspect that your student is suffering from any of the above conditions, be curious to listen to understand their feelings, talk about it, explaining that it is perfectly normal, and that you would like to help.
  • Plan some outings or activities together.
  • Encourage your student to phone and write parents. Ask about the family and life in the home country.
  • Look at photographs together.
  • Plan topics of evening conversations.
  • Develop the habit of watching a weekly TV show together or taking walks together.
  • Help the student build an active and busy life in this community.
  • Help her/him develop friendships with people of a similar age.
  • Talking through difficult times can lead to a closer and more caring relationship.
  • Card games or Board games are a great way to engage your student in an activity where she must speak English

The student should be expected to follow whatever rules you have for other members of your household. The following are suggestions, which you may choose to adjust for the age of your student.

Students should:

  • Let you know where they are at all times.
  • Attend school every day that school is in session unless they are ill.
  • Ask ahead of time if they need rides to special events, or if they wish to have friends overnight, etc.
  • Assist with some duties in the home. Many students are not used to doing chores. They may often come from families that hire household help. You will need to demonstrate the tasks that you would like them to do. For example, if you wish your student to do their own laundry, you will need to demonstrate how to use your machines.
  • Be at home on school nights, unless participating in an organized activity e.g. swimming lessons, study groups, etc.
  • Obey an age-appropriate curfew for weekend nights – ISP Program guideline for curfew is as below. (If you haven’t had experience parenting a teen and need some guidelines, contact the Host Family Coordinators.)

Grade 7 & 8

Sunday to Thursday

Friday & Saturday – 9:00pm

Grade 9 & 10

Sunday to Thursday – 9:00pm

Friday & Saturday – 10:00pm

Grade 11 & 12

Sunday to Thursday – 10:00pm

Friday & Saturday – 12:00am

Homestay parents should:

  • Not leave the student alone overnight. Complete the Respite Request Form or arrange appropriate adult supervision if you plan on being away.  Inform  the Host Family Coordinators.
  • Confirm adequate supervision of adults, and age appropriate activities of any student sleepovers or camping trips
  • Inform the school if the student is ill.
  • Never allow students to leave the Comox Valley without completing the Student Out of District Travel Form and confirming the details.
  • Never allow students to oporate a motorized vehicle.
  • Not permit the student to hold wage earning jobs while in Canada.

Homestay parents may:

  • Make additional rules as necessary: showers/bathing, table manners, other manners, use of household appliances, laundry, bringing friends home, etc.


  • Discuss your rules early and often, making sure that the student understands.
  • Deal with a few rules at a time.
  • Reach mutual agreement about as many rules as possible.
  • Explain the reasons for your rules.
  • Enforce your rules…do not let the student get away with breaking them.
  • Be fair and firm.
  • Establish reasonable consequences for breaking rules.