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Homestay FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Homestay

Find the answers to important questions here.

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SISP welcomes all families living in the Saanich School District catchment area to apply as a host family. Large families, singles, empty-nesters, young couples, retirees; we have host families of all shapes, sizes, ages and cultures! English should be the spoken language in the home.

Becoming a host family is an important decision. It takes openness, kindness, and understanding to host a teenager from a different culture. Students will often become a true part of the family. All members of the family have to be on board in making this commitment.

We have short term and long term students in our program. You can state your preference and availability for hosting either a short or long term student. These are the periods students typically join us for:

  • September-December (4 months)
  • September-January (5 months)
  • September-June (10 months)
  • February - April (3 months)
  • February - June (5 months)


The students in our Homestay Program are all in grades 9-12. Most of our students are between 16 and 18 years old.

As a host parent you are expected to provide the environment and support that you would normally provide for your own family. This means you are required to offer your student:

  • A private bedroom furnished with the following:
    • A bed with a proper mattress and bedding
    • A desk with a lamp and adequate lighting for doing homework
    • A window that opens
    • A closet and set of drawers or other storage space
    • Three wholesome meals a day and snacks as required
    • Hot water and facilities for daily bathing and basic toiletries, such as soap, shampoo, etc.
    • Daily showers of approximately 10 minutes
    • Laundry (you may expect a student to do their own laundry if you wish)
    • Access to the common living areas of the house

Additionally, we require you to treat the student as a valued member of your family. This looks like:

  • Emotional support if the student suffers from homesickness, difficulties at school, etc.
  • Academic support, such as 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
  • Giving your student a house key
  • Pickup and drop-off to the airport or ferry
  • Transportation to and from student activities (host families living in remote areas will be required to provide more transportation)

We offer our Host Families:

  • A monthly honorarium for expenses incurred
    • effective February 1, 2024: $1,200 per student per month
    • until February 1, 2024: $1,150 per student per month
  • A Host Family orientation at the beginning of the year
  • Host Family meet-ups to connect with other Host Families
  • Ongoing support from the SISP Homestay Team
  • 24/7 emergency contact number for after-hours emergencies 

Becoming a Host Family can be a smooth and easy process! Please see the steps below:

  1. Complete an online application here. You should be able to complete this in 30-45 minutes.
  2. After submitting the application, the Homestay Coordinator for the school in your catchment area will contact you to set up a home visit.
  3. The Homestay Coordinator will conduct a home visit, where we can get to know you and your family and learn about your motivation for hosting for our program.
  4. After the home visit, if there is a mutual connection, we will ask you to fill out the necessary paperwork and apply for a Criminal Record Check.
  5. Once this is all taken care off, you can be accepted as a host family for our program!

No; getting accepted into the program as a host family or having hosted successfully for us before, does not guarantee a student will be placed with you. Student placement all depends on whether or not we have a good match for your family.

Many students are eager and excited to be here in Saanich from the start, but others can be overwhelmed due to jetlag and/or culture shock during the first days. Luckily, this almost always improves quickly. To help you support this process of adapting to new surroundings, we have the following suggestions to make the transition a smooth one:

  • Teach your student how to use the phone, what your family’s phone numbers are and emergency numbers, how to use the phone directory, and rules for making calls
  • Help your student arrange for a personal phone (but don’t sign any contracts for them)
  • Go with your student to open a bank account. Stress not to carry large amounts of money or leave it at home
  • Show your student how to use his/her ATM card and explain the importance of keeping the PIN number secret
  • Go over school information with your student
  • Discuss schedules for breakfast, showering, school, supper, etc.
  • Show your student the route to and from school, or where to get on/off the bus
  • Visit some local points of interest and go shopping for food together
  • Have fun getting to know each other!

You can now apply for your Criminal Record Check (CRC) online. Please contact your Homestay Coordinator to get the details you need to apply for your CRC online.

The SISP Emergency Contact Number for after-hour emergencies is: 250-812-0731

Please call or email the school absence line:

Claremont: call 250-658-6666 or email

Stellys: call 250-544-0300 or email

Parkland: call 250-655-2713 or email

Once you have arranged the appropriate medical care, please:

  • Inform your Homestay Coordinator during weekdays/office hours
  • Inform SISP Administrators through the emergency number for after-hours emergencies: 250-812-0731

Students are required to fill out an online Travel Application if they are going outside of Greater Victoria without their host parents. Once our office has received and reviewed the Travel Application, our office will email host parents with the approval or denial. This email is not sent to the student directly, so host parents need to inform them of the decision. Students are not allowed to travel without SISP's explicit approval.

When students are going on a trip out of Canada during their stay here without their host parents or natural parents, we will need a Release Waiver signed by their natural parents.

Students are not to be left alone at home under any circumstances, regardless of their age, level of maturity or trustworthiness. They are minors in our care, and are required to be supervised by an appropriate, responsible adult over the age of 25.

When planning an overnight trip without your student, please:

  • Inform your Homestay Coordinator at least 5 days in advance
  • Find an appropriate, responsible adult aged 25 or older to look after your student. This can be:
    • Another Host Family in our program - this is often the easiest option. Ask your student if they have an international friend they could stay with!
    • A family member or trusted friend with a valid Criminal Record Check
    • Family of a Canadian friend of your student 


Please confirm with your Homestay Coordinator if the supervising adult you have arranged is approved. If you need help finding a respite Host Family for your student for the duration of your time away, your Homestay Coordinator can help with this. 

Please contact the school directly, each student is assigned an advisor that you will be directed to. The advisors will help you and your student figure out how to improve the situation.

Host families should not sign any contracts for students. Please assist them with setting up a pay-as-you-go cell phone account and be sure they have cancelled everything before leaving your home.

No! SISP maintains a zero tolerance policy and students in the SISP program, regardless of age, may not use drugs or alcohol under any circumstance. The consequence of being caught drinking alcohol or using drugs, is being sent back to their home country immediately.

Your assistance for pick up and drop off at the ferry/airport for arrivals, departures and school related trips is required, however arranging carpools with other host families is encouraged. Please regard these situations as you would if the student were your own child.

Yes, students may engage in sleepovers as long you have confirmed with the other parents that they will be properly supervised. At this time, SISP does not allow romantic or mixed-gender sleepovers.

Ultimately is is up to you to set the curfew, although SISP has created the following guideline for a weekend (Friday-Saturday) curfew:

  • Grade 9 ⇨ 9:00pm
  • Grade 10 ⇨ 10:00pm
  • Grade 11 ⇨ 11:00pm
  • Grade 12 ⇨ 12:00am

If you'd like to stick to these curfews, our program will fully support you if any issues arise. Should you feel that a different curfew suits your student and family better, you have the discretion to make that decision, as long as the alternate curfew is reasonable for your student's age.

Students should be home by 8:00pm on weeknights (Sunday-Thursday) and the expectation is that they are home most nights for family dinner.

Even though you are welcome to accommodate your student's family members if they come to visit, you are not required toor expected to. You may want to recommend a nearby hotel or AirBNB.

Please contact your Homestay Coordinator if you and your student have not been able to work a problem out quickly. Usually, lack of communication, cultural differences or simply being a teen can contribute to homestay issues. Let us help you work things out!