Nanaimo campus

COVID-19 Updates for International Students

[Updated August 15, 2022]

Our international students are valued members of the 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 we 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.

What are the latest entry requirements and quarantine rules?

Most international travellers to Canada must be fully vaccinated. There are very few exceptions to this rule. You are still required to use ArriveCan to enter Canada. Please read the government Travel and Testing Information.

From July 19, 2022, random border testing will apply. Please refer to the government news release for more information.

Unvaccinated travellers must follow the current government guidelines

Please note that Universities have no jurisdiction in border services (CBSA) and immigration matters. A CBSA officer will make the final decision on whether you can enter Canada when you arrive.

International students must to stay up to date with Government requirements and show the Border Services Officer that they meet the requirements or exemptions when travelling to Canada.


Can family members travel with me?

Please see VIU's Travelling with Family guidance.


How should I plan to travel after I arrive?

For general travel preparation advice, please refer to our Self-Isolation Information & Resources page. For information on travel after you arrive, read the government guidelines.

If your port of entry is Vancouver, you will need to plan transport to Vancouver Island. Check the Government domestic travel and BC Ferries sites. Make sure you can connect to Nanaimo. If you want to take a seaplane to the island, try Harbour Air or Seair Seaplanes.

If your port of entry is Nanaimo, or if you connect by ferry, you will need to plan transport to your accommodation. Our recommended taxi and shuttle bus providers are:  

  • AC Taxi (250) 753 1231  

  • Yellow Cab (250) 751 1111  

  • Airport/Ferry Shuttle Bus, (door-to-door, 24/7) 1 888 758 2133 / 778 441 2133 (local) /


What are my supports and guidelines if I need to self-isolate?

If, for any reason, you need to self isolate on arrival, we will stay in contact with you. We will make sure you have all of the support and information you need. If you wish to contact supports available to you, please refer to our Self-Isolation Information & Resources page.

For government guidance, please visit their Quarantine or isolation page.


How can I get food and other essentials when self-isolating?

Arrange for the necessities of life (e.g.,food, medications, basic hygiene supplies, and cleaning supplies) to be delivered to your place of self-isolation:


What if I miss classes due to self-isolation?

You should contact your instructor personally if you think you may miss classes. You can find your instructor's contact details through your student record.


What are the COVID Vaccination Requirements in British Columbia?

Please read the current information about proof of vaccination.

International students living in BC are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through the provincial government's vaccination program. Please visit the FAQs on VIU’s 2021-22 Academic Year page for information on registering for your personal health number (PHN), receiving approved vaccinations and obtaining a vaccine card ('passport').


Where can I get a vaccination in Nanaimo? 

Search for local clinics. 

Information about BC booster shot scheduling.


What is the BC Vaccine Card ('Vaccine Passport')?

There is lots of information – in many languages - about the BC Vaccine Card.


How can I apply for a BC Vaccine Card?

How to apply for your BC (temporary) provincial health number (PHN). 

You can upload your proof of WHO approved vaccine and PHN to the BC Immunization Record.

N.B.: Your vaccine may not be on the same list as Canada approved vaccines but may be acceptable.

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.