Nanaimo campus

COVID-19 Updates for International Students

[Updated November 29, 2021]

Our international students are valued members of our Vancouver Island University community and we honour your contributions to the VIU family. We recognize the COVID-19 pandemic has created unique challenges for you and have created this webpage to provide additional information about supports and resources specifically for international students at VIU. We will update this page as new information and resources become available. In addition, COVID-19 information for all VIU students and community members is available at VIU's COVID-19 Updates and Information page.

For specific information on VIU's 2021-22 Academic Year, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on VIU's 2021-22 Academic Year page.

The Government of Canada recently introduced changes to quarantine requirements. If you are fully vaccinated and meet specific requirements, you may be exempt from the 14-day quarantine (self-isolation) requirement. Even if you are exempt, you are still required to have a quarantine plan in place and enter the address of your place of quarantine in the ArriveCAN app BEFORE travelling to Canada. This is if border officers determine you do not meet the requirements for exemption or are symptomatic. You may not be able to quarantine in the place you plan to stay longer term, so it is vital to confirm your quarantine plans in advance and register those plans with VIU.  

If you are confident that you will meet the requirements, Study Safe Corridor Operator The Student Travels can provide fully vaccinated students with a backup quarantine plan – at a cost of $100 (+ tax) – that allows students to enter a quarantine hotel address into the ArriveCAN app before travelling. Students can activate the quarantine plan if they are denied exemption after arriving in Canada. 

For non-vaccinated travellers arriving after August 9, 2021, the government has removed the 3-night government-authorized hotel stay requirement which means you can complete your mandatory 14-day quarantine at the address you submitted in the ArriveCAN app. 

View Quarantine (Self-Isolation) Options

If you are concerned your arrival may be delayed due to quarantine or other travel requirements, reach out to your instructors to let them know you still plan to attend class and ask about arrangements for missed work. Students can also email with any help they need in re-arranging course schedules. The deferral policy can be accessed here.  

Helpful links:

·         Entering Canada requirements checklist 

·         Exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers 

·         International students and travel to Canada government guide 


Important Note About Travel Plans:

We ask you plan your travels carefully only after checking the Government of Canada information on entering Canada, the IRCC website and CBSA website regarding entry into Canada during the pandemic. Please note Universities have no jurisdiction in border services and immigration matters.  A CBSA officer will make the final decision on whether you're eligible to enter Canada when you arrive.  

For more information regarding self-isolation:

VIU Self-Isolation Information and Resources



The Government of Canada announced on November 19, 2021 that, as of January 15, 2022, all international students who are 18 years old or older must be fully vaccinated with one of the vaccines approved for entry into Canada.  The list of approved vaccines can be found on the website.

I am an international student already studying at VIU. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine in BC?

Yes. If you are living in BC during the pandemic, you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through the provincial government's vaccination program. Visit this ImmunizeBC page for more information and details on how to register.

International students are required to have a valid study permit in order to come to Canada to pursue full-time studies at Vancouver Island University (not required for students planning to study in Canada for less than six months).

You may be able to begin your studies online before traveling to Canada, or prefer to only complete online studies from outside of Canada. Please see our Course Delivery Model by Program/Faculty to determine which courses are available online.   This might affect when or if you choose to apply for a study permit.

We hope the information on the following pages provides you with the information you need.

Please read the information below carefully and contact us if you have any questions. We also encourage you to read our refund policies and COVID FAQs.


Can I study online in Spring 2022?

Yes! Many programs will continue to offer online courses. Check Course Delivery Model by Program/Faculty.


If I study online from my home country, do I need to apply for a study permit?

  • We strongly recommend that you apply for your study permit immediately upon receiving your letter of acceptance from VIU. 
  • VIU will allow you to study from outside of Canada if your courses are offered online, before receiving your approved study permit if you choose.
  • Please read VIU Deferral and Refund Policy for conditions and implications of studying without a study permit.


What if I do receive my study permit and want to switch to face-to-face studies?

If you receive notice that your study permit has been approved:

  • Arrange travel and self-isolation plans.
  • Send copy of your study permit (or study permit approval) to or
  • If you are not able to travel to VIU in time for the class start date, depending on program/course delivery, you MAY be able to start studies online from your home country.
  • The time you spend studying online will be counted towards your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit up to August 31, 2022. Please read complete details from IRCC website. 


What if I don’t receive a decision about my study permit application in time to travel for face-to-face studies? Can I still start my studies online?

  • Check course time table to assess the possibility of starting online and to determine if online courses are still available.
  • Starting your program online before you have an immigration decision does not guarantee that your application for a study permit will be approved.
  • Only the time you spend studying online after your study permit appliication was received will count toward the length of your PGWP.
  • Please read VIU Deferral and Refund Policy for full details.


What if my study permit application is denied?

  • If you have received a study permit refusal you will have the option to reapply for the study permit once you have addressed the grounds of refusal.  There is no guarantee that you will be approved the second time.
  • You may continue your studies online, however once regular face-to-face delivery resumes at VIU you likely will not be able to continue or complete your program online.
  • You may be able to transfer credits earned at VIU to another university in Canada or in another country.
  • Please read VIU Deferral and Refund Policy for implications of studying without a study permit.


Am I eligible for a refund of my tuition deposit if my study permit application is denied?

  • For new students starting in Spring 2022 semester, you will be eligible to request a refund minus processing fee. Submit your request prior to December 15, 2021 at 11:59pm Pacific Time. Include a copy of the refusal letter.
  • For continuing students, the refund policy applies.


I will study less than 6 months (eg. as a study abroad, exchange or ESL student) at VIU, do I need to apply for study Permit?

  • Short term students in programs that are less than 6 months do not require a study permit to study in Canada whether the delivery method is online or face-face. 
  • You still may requrie an eTA or visa to enter Canada.


I was approved for a study permit (i.e. “Letter of Introduction”) or I have a valid study permit. Can I come to Canada?

  • Yes, you can start planning for your travel. As of October 20, 2020, VIU’s COVID-19 readiness plan was approved by federal and provincial governments therefore international students are permitted to travel to Canada.
  • Students who are planning to enter Canada must strictly follow the self-isolation plan of VIU. You must adhere with VIU, provincial and federal government self-isolation plans prior booking your tickets to Canada.
  • Additionally, you need to register your arrival with Canada Border Services Agencies, Voluntary Compliance Portal if you are arriving to Vancouver.

I am in my home country. Can VIU help with my StudyPermit/VISA/eTa application? 

VIU’s immigration advisors are not able to provide support for Study Permit/VISA/eTA applications outside of Canada. However, once you are in Canada, our Immigration Advisors can assist you in your study and work-related applications.  


I applied for my study permit and I am waiting for feedback. Can VIU help expedite the process? 

Unfortunately, Immigration Advisors or VIU employees are unable to intervene in expediting applications.  

We are pleased to share that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced new measures that will provide more flexibility for international students. The new measures will allow eligible international students to complete up to 100% of their programs online from outside of Canada, while still remaining eligible for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP).  The time you spend studying online could be counted towards your eligibility for the PGWP up to August 31, 2022. 

This means that if you were hoping to work in Canada after graduation, you can still do so even if your program was online and you did not travel to Canada to study. Wondering if your program will be online? Information about how courses and programs will be delivered can viewed through the Generate a Timetable page.


To learn more, please refer to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP): COVID-19 page.

All student services and supports, including advising, career services, counselling, tutoring and disability services are still available via alternative formats such as video conferencing, email and text. Visit the International Student Services homepage for more details. 

If you have questions or comments related to COVID-19 and your time at VIU that are not addressed by the information found on this page, please contact

If you intend to apply to VIU for a future semester and have questions, please email

More supports are listed on the BC Council for International Education website.

We also understand that COVID-19 has impacted your studies at VIU and that you may wish to change your study plans for Spring 2022. With this in mind, we have added amendments to our usual International Student Refund and Deferral Policy with COVID-19 related considerations.