Nanaimo campus

COVID-19 Updates for International Students

[Updated April 6, 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.

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. 

VIU Self-Isolation Information and Resources



Dear Students,


A warm and enthusiastic welcome to Vancouver Island University! Teaching and learning is looking a little different at VIU this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure the safety and well-being of our students and employees, the majority of your courses will be online, depending on your program. Registered students will have received more detailed information from their instructors and program chairs; for those of you who have not yet registered for courses and are looking for more information, please see this course delivery model by program/faculty for more details. 


We are excited about the courses and support services that will now be available online. VIU is working hard to ensure students receive an interactive, engaging learning experience that includes lots of personal time with your professors, and access to all of our services via alternative methods such as email, text and video chat.


We understand that the current world situation is likely raising a lot of questions for you, including whether you can travel to Canada for any experiential parts of courses or programs; whether your eligibility for the Post-Graduate Work Permit will be affected; and what options exist if you decide to delay coming to VIU.


We have created a Frequently Asked Questions page to answer as many of your questions as we can and we will continue, in collaboration with other post-secondary institutions across Canada, to lobby the government to make the changes needed to ensure visa applications and other immigration processes and approvals are not a barrier to your studies at VIU. If your question is not answered in the above link or on this page, please email us at (future students) or (current students).


I want you to know that you are part of the VIU family, and we value the contributions you bring to our campuses. We will do everything we can to support you during this crisis and we want to ensure that there is no disruption to your educational plans.


Our hope is to return to our face-to-face course delivery as soon as it is possible and safe to do so. Our main priority remains the safety and well-being of our students, employees and broader community, and we 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. This past academic year, now Intersession and summer 2021 most courses have been delivered online due to COVID-19 restrictions.  Please see our Course Delivery Model by Program/Faculty and a letter from our Acting Dean, Dr. Norma MacSween, about studying online.

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 start my studies in Intersession/Summer 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 VIUVIU will allow you to begin your studies before receiving your approved study permit if you choose. 
  • You will be able to start your program online even before you enter Canada (and before your hard copy study permit is issued to you at the Port of Entry).


What if I do receive my study permit by spring (January) 2021?

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

  • You will start your studies online from home.
  • The time you spend studying online will be counted towards your eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit, up to a maximum of 50% of your program length. Please read complete details from IRCC website.
  • Oct 20, 2020 Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) allowed students who have a study permit or have been approved for study permit (Letter of Introduction) to travel to Canada. 


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

  • Yes, you may start your program online.
  • Starting your program online before you have a permit does not guarantee that your application for a study permit will be approved.

Your online studies will start to count towards the Post Grad Work Permit (PGWP) on the date that your study permit is approved.


What if my study permit application is denied?

  • If you have received a visa 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 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.


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

  • For new students starting in spring semester, you will be eligible to request a refund minus processing fee. Submit your request prior to January 20, 2021 at 4pm 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. However, they may not be able to enter Canada based on visa or eTA. 
  • Therefore, we highly recommend to 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 COVID19 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.

To ensure the safety and well-being of our students, employees and broader community, VIU has chosen to move to a hybrid model of education delivery. This means that much of your education will be done online. You will still have the same personalized, one-on-one access to your faculty members and other support services. Please see Course Delivery Model by Program/Faculty and a letter from our Acting Dean, Dr. Norma MacSween, about studying online.

Please check the IRCC and CBSA websites to see if you are eligible for a study and/or visitor permit to come to Canada as well as if you might qualify for entry to Canada given COVID-19 related restrictions for non-essential travel.  VIU will also update this page soon with more information for those students requiring face-to-face components at VIU this fall.

Under the Quarantine Act, travellers to Canada are required to self-isolate for 14 days. The 14-day quarantine must be completed at VIU residence. To learn more, we created this 2020-21 Academic Year Frequently Asked Questions 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 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.


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. Marco E.L. Mendicino, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, said: “Our message to international students and graduates is simple: We don’t just want you to study here, we want you to stay here.”


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