British Columbia

B.C. establishes K-12 homestay guidelines for international students

B.C. is the first province to introduce guidelines for the homestay industry.

Province first to introduce guidelines for homestay industry

Community Minister Peter Fassbender announces guidelines Friday for the international homestay program. (Ministry of Education)

British Columbia became the first province to introduce guidelines for kindergarten to Grade 12 homestay programs on Friday.

Homestays are formal arrangements by international student programs to house international students with approved families during the course of study.

Nearly 17,000 students took part in the 2014-15 program, contributing about $400 million to the provincial program.

"Our world-class education system continues to attract students from around the globe and these guidelines make the decision to study here even easier," said Peter Fassbender, B.C.'s minister of community, sport and cultural development.

The province wants to expand the program, Fassbender said. 

Guidelines introduced 

The guidelines outline responsibilities for homestay organizers and international student programs.

The guidelines include a number of safeguards.

  • homestay program providers much have a screening process for host families and students, which include criminal record checks
  • the international student program must provide host families with resources to support their international student in learning English or French as an additional language
  • the host families must agree to in-home inspections and have no more than two international students at a time.

"We want to assure the families of those students that their kids will be in a safe and welcoming environment," said Fassbender.

In the past, school districts and independent schools developed their own policies.

Wonderful experience

Longstanding homestay parents, such as Dency Pelegrin, welcomed the announcement.

""I have had a wonderful experience hosting Surrey international students from many countries, including China, Austria and Mongolia over the past 10 years," Pelegrin said.

"It has been an incredible learning opportunity for my family as well as the students... I strongly encourage others to consider becoming a host family."

With files from Pierre Martineau

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