FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a homestay?
A homestay is a cultural exchange between a local individual or family (called a host) and a visiting international guest. The guest lives for an agreed period of time as a guest in your home. The host family will be responsible to provide the guest with a clean and safe environment to live in and meals when booked.
Who can apply to be a host family?
MIF has a wide variety of host families. MIF recruits families with a variety of interests and hobbies. Our families are a mix of single-parent families, single professionals, roommates, couples, retirees, multi-cultural families, and multi-racial families. All these families make up our wide range of host families.
What are my responsibilities?
Each booking is unique and is tailored to the needs of the guest. The contract is tailored to the specifics of that student however a typical student books two meals a day and a private room. In addition, minor students often require transportation to and from school. Guidelines regarding general host family responsibilities can be found above in the Host Family Agreement and the Host Family Handbook.
How long will the guests stay?
It’s all depends on the guest and their reason for travel. Some guests stay as short as two weeks for an intensive experience while some are here for an academic year.
How old will my guest be? What are they here for?
The guests range in age from high schoolers to retirees and come for a variety of reasons that include attending private high school, language study and leisure travel. Because of this, each booking is different.
Where are the students from?
Students and guests apply for homestays with us from all over the world. We have students from: China, Japan, Brazil, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Italy, France, and Germany, just to name a few.
What paperwork must be completed prior to hosting a student?
Once a potential student placement is confirmed, your Homestay Coordinator will send additional paperwork which must be completed prior to hosting. A criminal background check is required for all family members and home occupants 18+ living in your home. MIF covers the expense of these background checks, and your Homestay Coordinator will provide you and your family members with a link to complete the required form online.
A Homestay Contract outlining the specifics of the booking will be sent to you and must be signed and returned along with the Host Family Agreement. A W-9 tax form must also be completed and returned in order to issue your compensation checks.
Will I be compensated to host a student? How much?
Yes, Host Families are paid a monthly stipend to host the client. The amount of compensation is based on the host family’s region and the program that the guest has booked. This information will be included in the guest profile before you accept the booking.
I thought exchange programs were free for students. Why do they have to pay?
We are not an exchange program. We are a homestay company. Often, the student has the option to stay in the school dorms, student housing or rent an apartment. A student will choose a homestay instead for a full immersion experience. Just as they would be paying for room and board at school, they will be paying for room and board with a host family.
Does MIF withhold taxes?
MIF does not withhold taxes. The host is required to complete an IRS W-9 form and return it to MIF in order to be issued compensation checks. Compensation from MIF is marked as "rental income" on Form 1099-MISC which is mailed to all host families by January 31 for compensation received in the previous tax year. Host Families whose rental income does not exceed $600.00USD in a single calendar year will not receive a 1099 from MIF. Deductions: Deductions constitute an expense associated with hosting the student/guest that may be deducted against rental income earned. Examples of potential deductions are a portion of your rent/mortgage, utilities, internet service, transportation costs (if unreimbursed) and grocery bills. Records and receipts should be retained for expensing deductions. Hosts should contact a qualified tax professional regarding their specific tax questions and hosting related deductible items.
Will my personal information be safe?
Your email address, name and any other information you provide, such as address and phone number, are held in strict confidence. MIF does not sell, rent, lease or give away your personal contact information to any outside or third party for marketing purposes. Nor will we send you unsolicited email.
How do I become a host family for My International Family?
To be added to our host family database, begin by completing a Host Family profile on our website - http://www.myinternationalfamily.com/become-a-host-family. You will then be contacted by a Homestay Coordinator who will provide you with the Host Family Agreement. You will need to review this document carefully and let your Homestay Coordinator know if you have any questions. If you are ready to proceed, sign and return the Host Family Agreement to your Homestay Coordinator.
What is the role of the Homestay Coordinator?
Your Homestay Coordinator will be your go-to person for any questions relating to your homestay experience. The Homestay Coordinator will act as your MIF liaison, contact you about potential bookings, manage your homestay bookings, and be available to assist you and the guest at any point. They will check in with you throughout the guest’s stay to ensure that you and your guest are enjoying the homestay experience and will handle any questions or concerns you may have as they arise.
How are guests and host families matched?
Guests are matched with host families by comparing profiles. Guests are then matched with the family that most closely suits them based on factors such as location, allergies or any dietary needs. We work hard to find the best match possible so that the experience will be enjoyable for both parties.
What is the Host Family Profile?
The Host Family Profile contains information about your neighborhood, family members, work and leisure schedules, hobbies, and interests. Your Homestay Coordinator will use this information to match you with potential compatible guests. If you are interested and available to host the guest, the Homestay Coordinator will propose your profile (minus contact info) and photos to the student for consideration. The more detailed your answers are the more appealing your profile will be to potential guests.
Why are photos important?
Photos are the first impression the guest will have of you and your home and are often the deciding factor when the guest is making their choice for their homestay. When submitting photos to your Homestay Coordinator, candid family photos, pictures of your home and the guest’s room are all good options. Please submit as many photos as you feel are necessary to showcase your home and make your profile stand out. The more complete image you are able to present via photos, the better understanding the guest will have of you and your home and their potential homestay. As in any case, clean and tidy rooms showcase best.
If I take my guest out, do I have to pay for them?
Booked Activities and Excursions will be clearly outlined in the contract and included in the compensation to you. Otherwise, if you want to take your guest out, explain where you are going and how much it will cost. Your guest then has the opportunity to decide whether or not to go with you. Do not expect your guest to pay for other members of the family. Many hosts are happy to include their guests as part of the family outings.
Will the student contact me directly to book a homestay?
No. When a student applies for a homestay in your area, your Homestay Coordinator will contact your with the details of the booking. These details include the length of time the student will be here, gender, age, allergies, food restrictions, hobbies, etc. of the student. If you are interested and available to host the student, the Homestay Coordinator will propose your profile (minus contact info) and photos to the student as an option for them to choose from.
Can I host more than one student at a time?
Yes. It is important to keep your Host Family Profile updated for this reason. Your Profile should accurately reflect all persons living in the home so that incoming students will then be able to make an informed decision before committing to a homestay when they are presented with your profile. When your Homestay Coordinator contacts you about a new booking, let them know of any changes that need to be made to your profile.
What do I do if our situation changes?
If your personal information changes, or if you no longer desire to be a host family with MIF, you may correct, update, delete or deactivate your Host Family Profile by making the change with your Homestay Coordinator or by contacting us. We will respond to your request within 10 business days.