Nanaimo campus

COVID-19 Updates for International Students

[Updated July 16, 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 regularly 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 Update.

Please notice: students will only be allowed to enter Canada 4 weeks before classes start.

Stay tuned for more updates around the Fall 2021 semester.

As of March 25, 2020, the Canadian Government enacted the Quarantine Act which requires all  travellers to Canada to self-isolate for 14 days. Below you will find helpful information on arranging quarantine (self-isolation) should you decide to come to Canada to continue – or begin – your studies at VIU. 

The following web page includes important information regarding Federal and Provincial legal requirements and VIU’s expectations regarding quarantine (Self-isolation). The page will be updated with current immigration information, COVID-19 expectations, pre-arrival planning, travel requirements, accommodation options, and more.  Students who have submitted a negative COVID test result are still required to complete the 14-day quarantine upon arrival at VIU. Please carefully read this guide so you are aware of the information/documents that you must submit to VIU and to Canadian Government agencies.  This section also includes information for fully vaccinated international students travelling to Canada and specific conditions. 


We ask you plan your travels carefully only after checking IRCC website, international student travel, and CBSA websites regarding entry into Canada during the pandemic. Please note Universities have no jurisdiction in border services and immigration matters. We recommend that you plan your travels no more than 4 weeks prior and before the start of classes. A CBSA officer will make the final decision on whether you're eligible to enter Canada when you arrive.

VIU Self-Isolation Information and Resources



Dear Students,


A warm and enthusiastic welcome (or welcome back) to Vancouver Island University! For the Fall 2021 Semester, we are planning a safe return to on-campus learning with the support of our public health officials and BC’s four-step re-start plan to get life back to normal while protecting people. This means that many programs and courses will return to face-to-face learning models, made possible by health and safety protocols and the rollout of BC’s vaccination program.


Course Delivery for 2021-22

The Fall 2021/Spring 2022 timetable is now available, which indicates whether courses are online, in-person or a mixture of both, and we wrote a blog post to help you understand the different delivery models available


Travel to Canada/Study Permits

We know that due to the current world situation, you may have a lot of outstanding questions such as: whether you will be able to travel here, if your study permit will be approved on time, or what the rules will be when you arrive. In recent good news, the Government of Canada announced that those students who submitted completed study permit applications to them by May 15, 2021, will get a decision by August 6, 2021 – in time to travel to Canada for the fall semester. Read the full announcement.


To support those who may struggle to get here in time for the fall semester and/or get a study permit approved by the Canadian government, VIU is allowing new international students to start their studies, if their courses/programs are offered online, before your study permit is approved. Watch for more details on our COVID updates for international students webpage.


  • Action required: Watch your email for a pre-arrival survey and be sure to send us your study permit decision and/or a copy of your study permit when you receive it.


Quarantine Requirements

Currently, all students new and returning to Canada are subject to CBSA review and are required to quarantine (self-isolate) for 14 days, three of those days at a government-approved facility. This may change as Canada’s vaccine program rolls out. As we receive information, we will post on our COVID updates for international students webpage, which we urge you to bookmark.  



Finally, as a result of this uncertainty, we have updated our refund and deferral policy, which will hopefully aid you in your planning. Please note: August 31 is the final day for new students to request a deferral for the Fall semester.


Where to Get Information

At VIU, we place great value on the contributions of international students like yourselves. We would like to draw your attention to our Frequently Asked Questions page, where we will continue to add information as we receive it about our fall semester. This year, we have also organized webinars to help answer your questions. You can watch past editions or sign up for future workshops at International Point of VIU. If your questions are not answered after watching, please email us at


As we move forward with a substantial return to face-to-face delivery this fall, our main priority remains the safety and well-being of our students, employees and broader community, and we will continue to closely follow the advice and guidelines of our public health office. I hope you are all staying safe and healthy during this time.



Thank you for choosing VIU.



Norma MacSween, Ed.D.

Acting Dean

Faculty of International Education



As you know, international students are normally required to have a valid study permit in order to come to Canada to pursue full-time studies at Vancouver Island University.

In Fall 2021 semester we are planning for a safe return to face-to-face classes in most programs, however some courses will still be offered online. Please see our Course Delivery Model by Program/Faculty.

You may be wondering how this current situation will affect your ability to receive a study permit and whether your time studying at home will count towards your eligibility for post-graduation work permit upon completion of your studies. 

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 Fall 2021?

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


Do I still need to quarantine even I have a negative COVID test before coming to VIU?

Yes.  Please refer to the VIU Self-Isolation Information & Resources page for information. 


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 by August 2021?

If you receive notice that your study permit has been approved prior to starting your online studies:

  • 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 class start in September, depending on program/course delivery, you MAY start studies online from home country.
  • The time you spend studying online will be counted towards your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit up to Dec 31, 2021. Please read complete details from IRCC website. 


What if I don’t receive a decision about my study permit application by August? Can I still start my studies?

  • 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 applciation 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 Fall 2021 semester, you will be eligible to request a refund minus processing fee. Submit your request prior to August 31, 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?

  • Normally, 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. 
  • Due to COVID-19, a study permit is requried to be exempted from travel ban and come to Canada.
  • You still may requrie an eTA or visa to enter Canada.
  • Therefore, we highly recommend you apply for a study permit.


I was approved for 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 self-isolation plan of VIU. You must adhere with VIU, provincial and federal government self-isolation plan 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.


Please check the IRCCCBSA and Travel Canada websites to learn about travel exemptions, applying for study permit, post-graduate work permit, quarantine requirements and more.  

Under the Quarantine Act, travellers to Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days. In addition to registering your quarantine plans with the Government of Canada, your quarantine plan must be registered with VIU at .

To learn more, we created this 2021-22 Academic Year Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page, which includes a section specifically for international students.



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 by June 15, 2021, while still remaining eligible for a post-graduate work permit.  

To learn more, please read the updated Post-Graduate Work Permit eligibility information and bookmark our COVID-19 updates for international students page to stay up to date with what’s happening at VIU.

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 Fall 2021. With this in mind, we have added amendments to our usual International Student Refund and Deferral Policy with COVID-19 related considerations.