Immigration Frequently Asked Questions

Our academic and immigration advisors have compiled most frequent question into this page. Use your discretion since there may be updates or information does not apply to your unique case.

I am an Int’l student at VIU and don’t understand the difference between Co-op and Internship. What is the difference?

  • Co-ops are full-time usually paid practicum and an integral part of your studies and will not exceed 50% of your academic studies. Your performance will be evaluated in the workplace in the field of your studies. For example, Culinary Arts Program students will have a practicum in a restaurant.

    The internship may be full-time or part-time, paid or unpaid, on-the-job training for students to gain valuable experience in their career field.

What is the length of a Co-op or Internship?

  • VIU determines the length of a Co-op. Usually, it will not exceed 50% of the academic study duration.  Internship durations may vary, subject to approval from VIU. Please note, often internships are unpaid, on-the-job training.

Are Co-op and Internship Work Permits different?

  • Co-op or Internship Work Permits are the same.  When you extend your Study Permit it is recommended that you apply for your Co-op or Internship Work Permits at the same time. If you have not done so, then you can apply online through MyCIC account and there is no fee.

I am a full-time VIU student. My family is here with me. If my spouse would like to study or work would she be allowed to do so?

  • Yes, an accompanying family member can apply for a Study or Work permit without an acceptance letter. Your minor children can attend kindergarten, primary and secondary schools without paying international tuition fees.

I am an MBA student at VIU and my spouse has a Visitor Record. Can she apply for a work permit?

  • Spouses and common-law partners of full-time students in a Program at VIU may apply for an open Work Permit.

I am a VIU student and my family is here with me. My child is Canadian born. Will this help me to immigrate to Canada quickly?

  • No. Children born on Canadian soil are Canadian citizens as per the Citizenship Act. However, a birth certificate is not a citizenship certificate and you need to apply for it. The child’s citizenship does not give a privilege to a temporary resident parent, they are still required to maintain legal status in Canada.

I am an International Student at VIU and enrolled full time in the BA Program. Can I apply for a loan through the Canada Student Loan Program?

  • Unfortunately, International Students (refugee claimants) are not eligible for benefits under the Canada Student Loan Program. However, the university has various scholarships, bursaries, and grants that International Students can apply for. Please follow this link for more information: Money Matters

I am an International Student and I have financial problems. What would you advise me to do to maintain my studies?

  • As a full-time International Academic Student at VIU, you have the option to earn income while you are studying. Enrolling in three courses at VIU allows you to work 20 hours per week on or off campus. The best option to offset some education expenses would be to take advantage of the summer break to work May-August full-time. Please keep in mind, Study Permit Extension and authorization to work, require being a full-time student in a good academic standing.

I am a full-time student at VIU, can I work full time in summer break?

  • Yes, full-time students are permitted to work full-time during scheduled breaks on a valid Study Permit.  Also, your Study Permit should have the authorization to work on or off campus. If you are taking a full-time course load during the summer, you are only permitted to work 20 hours per week.

I am a full-time student at VIU but I failed three of my courses (or withdrew), can I still work full time in summer if my Study Permit has the authorization to work?

  • No, students who failed their courses or withdrew are no longer eligible to work during scheduled breaks. Students who are no longer in full-time studies must not work.

What are the consequences if I withdrew (failed) from my courses and worked in a scheduled break?

  • Students who do not stop work and surrender their Work Permit, will be found non-compliant and will lose their ability to qualify for a work permit in future (PGWP or Co-op). If a student has failed to comply with the conditions of their Study Permit, which is being a full-time student and in academic good standing, and was engaged in unauthorized work, an Immigration Officer cannot issue or extend a Study Permit for six months. It is called a “six-month ban” for noncompliance imposed on Temporary Residents.

How can the government find out that I worked full time while I was not qualifying to work?

  • There are many ways to trace International student’s work: through payment records, universities compliance report to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada and other.

I am a BA Program student and would like to work off campus in the summer time, what I am supposed to do?

  • You need to check if your Study Permit authorizes you to work on /off campus, if yes, then apply for a SIN number at nearest Service Canada office (50 Front St.). Before you go there, please check your Study Permit expiry date. After you obtain a SIN number you may wish to attend Career preparation seminars at VIU and learn how to search for a job.

I started my education at VIU with ESL courses, now I am an academic program student, but my Study Permit has a remark which prohibits me from working in Canada, what I should do about it?

  • If you are a registered full-time student in the academic program and your Study Permit prohibits you from working 20 hours per week after classes and during scheduled breaks, you need to apply for a renewal of your Study Permit to change the conditions.

I am a full-time academic program student at VIU and want to work during the summer break, but my Study Permit does not have any notes in the remarks and conditions section, what I should do?

I am a full-time academic student at VIU and I know that I am eligible to work on/off campus, but my Study Permit has a condition which prohibits me from working, can I appeal a decision?

  • No, under Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) of Canada, temporary residents have no right of appeal; therefore, the best solution is to reapply for it.

I am ESL student at VIU from visa exempt country and have International Experience Canada work permit, can I extend it?

  • No, however, you may wish to review Canada and your country’s agreement. Some countries allow young people to participate in this program more than once.

I am VIU exchange student from Sweden can I work off campus in summer?

  • Students in exchange programs are not eligible for off-campus work authorization.

I have been studying at VIU for two years now, but I enrolled in only two courses in each session in order to keep a manageable workload. Can I work 30 hours after classes and up to 40 hours during scheduled breaks?

  • If you are enrolled less than three courses in each semester you are not eligible to work off campus as well as after classes even if your Study Permit authorizes it. You need to be enrolled full-time and in good academic standing to be eligible to work after classes up to 20 hours per week and during scheduled breaks up to 40 hours a week.

I am an ESL (Exchange, Visiting, enrolled in general preparatory non-degree courses) student at VIU, can I work off campus?

  • If you are an ESL, Visiting or Exchange student, you are not eligible to work off campus. However, you can work on campus with a valid Study Permit as per IRPR Section 186 (f).

I was enrolled to BBA Program at VIU but decided to graduate earlier with a two-year diploma. My Study and Co-op Work Permit is valid until November 2017 with authorization to work. Can I continue working full time with it?

  • When a student finishes his/her studies early, Study & Co-op Work Permit will be invalid within 90 days even if it is valid for a longer date. Therefore, they need to apply for PGWP within those 90 days.

I am an academic student in the BBA Program. My Study Permit does not have any conditions or remarks; can I still work on campus?

  • Yes, you can work on campus if you are enrolled full-time and in good academic standing. However, it is recommended that you apply for an amendment of your Study Permit which will allow you to work on or off campus. Go to B 255 to request a letter ($10. Fee)  Amending of Study Permit is free of charge.

I am a full-time student at VIU and my mother is accompanying me and has a visitor visa, can she apply for a Work Permit?

  • She may be able to apply for a work permit within or outside of Canada if she receives a permanent job offer supported by Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) issued by Service Canada. 

I am an International Student at VIU. Can I take two courses in the classroom and one online and work full time?

  • No, students who are studying part-time are not eligible to work on or off campus. Online and distance learning courses are not eligible for work program.

I am a VIU student. How do I know if I am a full time or part time student?

  • Three or more courses at VIU are full-time studies.  If your course load is less than three courses then you are part time student and consequently not eligible to work on or off campus.

I am a VIU graduate and my Study Permit has expired. How can I apply for a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP)?

  • You may apply for a Study Permit Restoration and a PGWP at the same time if you are within 90 days of the expiry of your study permit.  Please note, in this case you must pay for the following: Restoration Letter from B 255 -$10. Study Permit extension -$150, Restoration fee -$200, Open work permit holder fee -$100, Work Permit Processing fee -$155. Total -$605 CAD.

I am an MBA graduate and applied for a PGWP with my final transcripts but I was granted only 18 months of Work Permit, what can I do about it?

  • If your program of study is less than two years but at least eight months, you would be eligible for a work permit lasting for the period equal to the duration of your studies. The VIU Letter of Graduation usually confirms that the MBA program is the equivalent of two-years of study. You may reapply to request a PGWP for the full two years. It is the Immigration Officer’s discretion to grant or reject the request.

I am an exchange student with a valid Study Permit. Can I apply for a PGWP?

  • No, students in an exchange program funded by their own Government, or Canadian scholarship programs, or taking courses on-line, are not eligible for Post Graduate Work Permits.

I studied one-year full time at VIU. I am continuing my education on-line from my home country. Can I apply for a PGWP?

  • You may be eligible for a PGWP only for the portion of the study you took at VIU and you’re applying with 180 days of completion of the VIU program.   The on-line portion of education is not eligible for this program.

Can I keep working on my study permit (20hrs a week) after I’ve completed my program and before I apply for my PGWP?

  • No, work after notification of program completion and before applying for PGWP is illegal.

I know have 180 days to apply for my Post-Grad work permit, so can I work for 6 months after I graduate on my study permit and then get more work time once I apply for my PGWP?

  • No, you cannot work after program completion until you apply for PGWP

Okay, I don’t want to work, but can I just hang out in Canada and apply for my PGWP within 180 days.

  • Not that simple.  You can remain in Canada with valid student status for 90 days after program completion.  Before the 90 days expires, if you haven’t already applied for PGWP, you would have to apply to change your status to visitor so that you’d have a valid status when you apply for PGWP or you can return home until you get your PGWP.  If your study permit expires sooner that 90 days, you’d have to apply for PGWP or change status to visitor before it expires.  If you’re in Canada and you did not change your status to visitor before your study permit expired, you will have to apply to restore your status along with your PGWP application (see question: I am a VIU graduate and my Study Permit has expired. How can I apply for a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP)?)

What should I do if I want to keep working continuously after I complete my program?

  • Apply for your Post Grad Work Permit as soon as possible after program completion.  You can’t work until you apply for PGWP.  The less time between program completion and applying for PGWP=less ‘no-work’ time.

I took a one-year certificate program at Seneca College in Toronto. I am a current PDDB student at VIU. Am I eligible for a three-year PGWP?

  • Yes, but only if your previous full-time certificate program and your PDDB course are completed within a 2 year time frame (ie. Both completion dates are within a 2 year period).   You may also only qualify for a 2 year work permit.  Individual immigration officers have the power to decide whether two 1- year programs will lead to a 2 year work permit or a 3 year work permit. 

I am graduating from the MBA program at VIU. Can I apply for PGWP from my home country?

  • Yes, graduating students may apply for PGWP from outside of Canada on paper or on-line. If due to a mistake in the online system you were charged a $155 CAD processing fee, but not a $100 CAD “open work permit fee”, you need to pay the additional $100 CAD online and upload the receipt in the Letter of Explanation section.

I have graduated from my BA Diploma program. I would like to apply for a PGWP within Canada. Can I return to my home country while waiting for my application to be processed?

  • Yes, you can, however to re-enter Canada your will need a valid TRV (Temporary Resident Visa).  TRVs are only issued automatically with PGWP applications if you apply for PGWP outside Canada.  So, if you apply within Canada and your TRV will expire before you’re planning to return to Canada from your trip, you should wait until you get the PGWP before applying for a TRV because a TRV will only be issued for the length of your current status document (ie. PGWP). Once you have the valid TRV you can return to Canada.   If you’re planning to travel please see a VIU immigration advisor to get advice on your particular circumstances. 

I am an MBA student at VIU and decided to work during my Internship in my home country. I have now graduated and am still in my home country. My Study Permit has expired. How can I apply for PGWP?

  • If you are still within 180 days of program completion you may apply for a PGWP from your home country.   If you don’t receive a response before you return to Canada you may still come back to Canada (provided you have a valid TRV (temporary resident visa) if from a country that requires a TRV).  You will likely be readmitted as a visitor, unless the officer sees that your PGWP was approved while you were away in which case you’ll be admitted as a worker.  Note that an officer may refuse entry to Canada as a visitor if s/he has concerns about how you’ll financially support yourself in Canada before you get the PGWP. 

I graduated from the PDDB Program at VIU. I am now in my home country. My Study Permit expired five months ago but my Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) is still valid. Can I apply for a PGWP with a valid TRV?

  • Application for a PGWP must be done within 180 days of completion of the Program.  If you are still within 180 days of program completion you can apply for your PGWP.   A valid TRV is not required for the PGWP application.

Can I “flagpole” and have my Study Permit extended or obtain my PGWP at the US/Canada border.

  • Yes, this is one of the options students may employ in exceptional situations if they have a valid Study Permit, a valid TRV (if from visa required country) as well as an American Visa in their passport. Students are advised to consult with the Immigration Consultant in International Ed. at VIU before attempting this option.

I am enrolled in the BA Program at VIU. My family recently became Permanent Residents. What should I do in order to pay domestic fees?

  • You need to provide a copy of the Confirmation of Permanent Residence Letter from IRCC to the International Admissions office in Building 255 at VIU. That document would be sufficient to switch you to domestic student list.

    The status change will affect future payments, therefore you will be charged international fees for the current semester, and domestic fees for subsequent semesters of study.

When does my status change effect how I am to be charged tuition fees, international fees or domestic fees?

  • For tuition fees collected on a semester basis, a status change will affect future semesters at VIU, not the current semester being attended.  For programs charged by installment, charges are based on status at the fee due date.

I recently became a Permanent Resident of Canada. Can I claim a portion of the tuition fees that I paid as an International student, on my tax return?

  • Yes, you can claim a portion of your International Tuition fees on your tax return. Please consult with a Tax specialist.

I am refugee claimant. Can I apply to study at VIU?

  • There is no restriction in applying to VIU as a refugee claimant, however, you would not have a status in Canada until the Refugee Board (IRB) legally recognizes and provides you with a Letter of Determination or Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). If you do not have an IRB Letter of Determination you are considered by Designated Learning Institution as an International Student and pay international tuition fees.

I am a Convention Refugee studying at VIU. Can my children attend school without a Study Permit?

  • Yes, your children can attend public schools without a Study Permit and they will not be charged as an International student.

I was offered a summer job on campus at VIU but do not have a SIN number. How can I apply for it?

  • If you have a valid Study Permit and have been offered a job, you need to apply for a SIN from the nearest Service Canada Office (50 Front St). Before visiting Service Canada, please collect all required documents and fill out the forms. Learn how to apply for your Social Insurance Number (SIN)

When I apply for a SIN, what should I bring to Service Canada?

  • Bring your passport, Study Permit, (if you have a Spouse or a Co-op Work Permit, Confirmation to Work Letter given by CIC prior to February 2015). Please note, if your Study Permit has a condition prohibiting you to be engaged in employment in Canada, you need to apply to change the conditions of the Study Permit. If your Study Permit does not contain any notes or the Border Officer made a mistake then you need to apply for an amendment of the Study Permit prior to work.

I am planning to spend my summer vacation (May-August) in my home country, but my Study Permit and Visa will expire while I am abroad. Where should I apply for an extension?

  • If you are planning to travel abroad when your Visa and Study Permit is about to expire, extend your Study Permit/Visa from within Canada before you leave.  If you have not applied to extend it before departure, you may apply to the Visa Office responsible for your home country. Please note, processing of your application in a Visa Office may take months to process and you risk missing a significant portion of your semester.

I am planning to travel to my home country but realize that I have misplaced my Study Permit. What should I do?

I am a VIU student. I lost my passport and Study Permit. What should I do?

  • You need to do the following:

    1. Contact the nearest Police Office and report the lost items. Obtain an Incident Report #.
    2. Contact your country’s Consulate or Embassy and apply for the renewal of your passport.
    3. As soon as you receive your new passport apply for the replacement of your Study Permit.
    4. Once you receive your replacement Study Permit apply for a Temporary Resident Visa.

I am planning to marry and stay in my home country one year or so. How will this affect my Student Permit and Visa?

  • If you are taking time off from your studies arbitrarily, the University may include your name in the IRCC (formerly known as CIC) report as a student not actively pursuing his/her studies. IRCC in turn may cancel your Study Permit even if it is valid. Therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to maintain a valid Study Permit.  In such situations, it is highly recommended that you call IRCC’s Call Centre 1-888-242-2100 and verify if your documents are still valid.

I am a BA student and want my mother to come to Nanaimo and stay with me. Should I send my original Study Permit to my mother overseas so she can use it to support her application for a Visitor Visa?

  • Your Study Permit is the status document of the student and it should be with student’s passport at all times. If you send the originals of your Study Permit to your parent to add to their Application package, firstly, it will not be returned to you, secondly, it can be canceled by Immigration Officer overseas. Please avoid knowingly or unknowingly committing illegal actions.

I have a US Visa in my passport and my Study Permit expires soon. I am planning a short trip to the USA. Will I be allowed to re-enter Canada?

  • As long as your Study Permit is valid, you can safely re-enter Canada and if you prepare your application to extend your Study Permit with all the required documents, you may apply at the border for renewal of your Study Permit too.

I misplaced my Study Permit and applied for replacement and provided copies of all documents, but my application was returned to me stating that it was “incomplete”. What should I do now?

  • It is important to read the guidelines on the IRCC web-site for replacement of lost, damaged and destroyed status documents. If you have lost your Study Permit it is important to report it to the Police and obtain an Incident Report number and provide a copy of it to IRCC.

I have applied for an extension of my Study Permit but uploaded the wrong Letter in the section of Letter of Acceptance. Also, I did not check MyCIC account, later found out my application was refused. What should I do now?

  • You need to apply within 90 days for Restoration of your Temporary Resident status, meanwhile, you are “out of status” and should stop your studies or work until your application is approved. You were in implied status until your Study Permit extension application was under review, you lost your status from the date the decision (refusal) was made.

I am a VIU student and forgot to extend my Study Permit. I applied for Restoration. What will happen if the Immigration Officer refuses the restoration of my status?

  • You will receive a letter of approval if the restoration is granted and your Study Permit will be issued. If the restoration is refused, you will receive a letter explaining the reasons for refusal and you need to leave Canada immediately.

I was accepted into the ECE Program at VIU and applied for a Study Permit extension. Am I required to have a medical exam?

  • International Students enrolled in ECE or other programs which require working with children, disabled or elderly people, are required to have a medical exam from the list of IRCC panel physicians. You cannot receive the medical exam from your own doctor. Please note; fees will apply and exam results will be valid for one year.

I am applying for a Study Permit extension. My checklist requires me to have a Medical Exam from a panel physician even though I have been in Canada for two years. What I should do?

  • There is a question about Study Permit eligibility regarding “designated countries”.  Most probably you have answered “Yes” to the following questions: 

    • Have you had a medical exam performed by a CIC authorized panel physician (doctor) within the last 12 months? 
    • Have you lived in a designated country or territory for more than six months in the last year? 

    If so, you will be required to go through a medical exam.  Please note; if you lived continuously in Canada last 12 months you do not need a medical exam, unless you have a medical condition or an exceptional situation.

    Designated countries or territories means that the level of Tuberculosis incidence and other infectious diseases are higher than in Canada.

If I apply to extend my Study Permit the day of expiry, would it still be considered that I complied with Study Permit conditions?

  • Yes, if you applied on–line the same day as the expiry date or made a paper application with a date stamp with the same date as the expiry date, you have complied with Study Permit requirement. Please note, IRCC advises to apply early, up to three months prior to expiry date.

I am changing institutions, do I need to let the government know?

  • Yes, you will need to change your post-secondary school in your account

    To do this, you’ll need:

    • an online account
    • your study permit number
      • It begins with the letter “S” and is at the top right of the permit.
      • For security reasons, we may ask you to provide a few details from your application, so have it handy.
    • your new school’s designated learning institution (DLI) number
    • your new Student Identification Number (Student ID)
      • You can find it on the acceptance letter your new school sent to you.
    • your start date at your new school.

    You don’t need a representative to change your DLI, even if you used one to apply for your study permit. You can do this yourself if you have your study permit application details.

    Learn how to Change your post-secondary school in your account

My Study Permit is valid until 2018 but my visa has been expired for a few months. Can I travel to my home country and re-enter Canada with a valid Study Permit?

  • If you are from a Visa exempt country, you can enter Canada with a valid e-TA and Study Permit. If you are from Visa required country you need to apply for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) within Canada or from a Visa Office abroad. A Study Permit is not a re-entry document, therefore if you do not have a valid Visa you may not be allowed to re-enter Canada.

I am a VIU student and plan to travel to the USA during my holidays. My Study Permit is valid until the next year but my Visa is expired. Can I travel to the US?

  • Yes, you can travel to the USA or St. Pierre and Miquelon and return to Canada on a valid Study Permit. If you are planning to visit countries other than those listed above, you need a new Temporary Resident Visa (TRV).

I am a VIU student from Germany (visa exempt country). How do I know when my Temporary Resident Visa or status will expire?

  • Upon arrival to Canada, the Border Officer puts a stamp on your passport.  By default, that is your Visa for six month from the day of arrival. If the Officer puts a hand written date, your Temporary Resident Visa expires on that date. The Officer may issue a Study Permit if you applied prior to coming to Canada or a Visitor record. They are status documents, usually Visa and status documents expire the same day.

I am an MBA student from Germany and planning to travel to the US. I was told that I do not have a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV). What should I do?

  • Students from Visa exempt countries (many European countries, USA, South Korea, Japan and others) may not have a Temporary Resident Visa sticker in their passport. Instead, students will receive a stamp in their passport by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).  By default that is a Visa. If a student applied and received a Study Permit, the CBSA Officer may match the dates of the Study Permit to the Visa stamp.  The CBSA Officer may stamp his/her passport upon each re-entry, that would become a valid Visa for six months.

I am a dual citizen of Mexico and Italy. I have an expired Visa to Canada in my Mexican passport. Can I enter Canada with my Italian passport?

  • Yes, you can, however, we highly recommend to use the same passport you entered Canada the first time. Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) renewal within Canada is the fast process.

I arrived in Canada with a Visitor Visa and completed my ESL at VIU. Can I apply for a Study Permit from within Canada?

  • Yes, students who arrive with a Visitor Visa who are:

    1. minor children studying at the primary or secondary level

    2. exchange or visiting student

    3. short-term students who have completed a course or program of study (ESL, Premaster’s) that is a condition for acceptance at VIU;

    may apply for a Study Permit within Canada.

I am an ESL student at VIU on a Visitor Visa, can I work off campus?

  • No, students holding a Visitor Visa are not permitted to work on or off campus.