Important Documents

In order to remain in Canada legally and to attend classes at VIU international students are responsible for maintaining their legal status. International students are temporary residents in Canada. Most VIU's international students require the following listed below.  

Tip:  It’s a good practice to keep scanned copies (or take a clear picture with your phone) of all your important documents (your passport, immigration documents and health insurance card) in a safe place in case the originals are lost, stolen or damaged.

A passport is your travel document that certifies your nationality and ensures protection of your country while abroad. Canadian documents such as your Study Permit, Visa, BC Medical Service Plan (MSP) coverage, and Social Insurance Number (SIN) will be issued as long as the passport is valid. Often your immigration documents expire at the same time as your passport (passport or your study program whichever comes earlier). You can apply to renew your immigration documents only after you obtain a new passport. If your passport is expiring, lost or damaged you need to contact your  Embassy or Consulate to find out how you can apply for renewal. After you have renewed your passport, you can then apply for an extension of study permit once it is approved then apply for a new temporary resident visa (TRV) if you are planning to travel abroad.

Please note:  your passport is proof of your citizenship.  You are the exclusive owner of it.  It is your responsibility to keep your passport in a safe place at all times.  If your passport is lost or damaged, immediately report to the nearest Police Office and obtain an incident report number.  Contact your country's embassy or consulate to inform and ask for instructions on how to replace your passport.

Make it a habit to leave a copy of your passport with someone you trust (parent, close friend or relative) before you travel overseas. 

A Study Permit is a permission to study in Canada issued to international students by the government of Canada. It is also a status document which confirms that you are the Student (Temporary Resident) in Canada. Your Study Permit must be valid at all times. In certain situations when you have applied for a study permit extension before your old one expires and waiting for the decision then you may be on maintained (previously called implied) status. During maintained status (waiting time) your previous study permit conditions continue to apply and you can continue to attend classes. Exchange, ESL students attending only one semester do not require a study permit if their studies is completed in less than six months.

A Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) is permission to enter Canada. Foreign nationals entering Canada are grouped into two: visa-required and visa-exempt countries. Students from visa-required countries need a visa (sticker) in their passports. It is recommended that students from visa-required countries maintain a valid TRV for the duration of their studies, but it is not mandatory while you are inside Canada.

Students from visa-exempt countries (except Citizens and Permanent residents of USA ) need an eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) when entering Canada by air.

International students from visa-exempt countries (e.g. Japan, South Korea, most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, UK or other) except for Citizens and Permanent Residents of USA, need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter Canada. If you get a new passport you will need to get eTA, even if it has been less than five years since your last eTA was issued. The authorization is electronically linked to the student’s passport, is valid for 5 years and cost $7. Most applicants can expect to get an email response within minutes of applying for it. Please visit IRCC website for more information on obtaining an eTA.

International students enrolled full time at VIU in academic, vocational or professional training programs who hold a valid study permit may be authorized to work off-campus while studying. For more information please visit Working in Canada page.

Please note: Your study permit work authorization or coop work permit may not authorize work in certain occupations where public health protection is essential. Jobs such as (e.g. daycare, schools, elder care and food sector) may require that applicant go through a medical examination with IRCC appointed Panel Physician.

In addition, off-campus work authorization is not interchangeable with coop work permit.

Types of Work Permit

International students are often confused regarding the types of work permits they may need in Canada. There are three types of work permits for temporary residents. International students are considered temporary residents in Canada. If an International student is enrolled in full time academic, vocational or professional training program, and as long as certain conditions are met their study permit will contain work authorization permitting work on or off campus.

Co-op /Internship work permit

This type of work permit is required while studying, if your program has an Internship, Co-op or practicum


This type of work permit allows International students to gain valuable work experience in their field of studies. It is called a Co-op (Internship, practicum) work permit and it will be valid only if the student maintains a valid Study Permit and not a lone standing document. There is no Application fee for a Co-op work permit and students can apply for it simultaneously when they apply for their initial Study Permit. Not valid without a valid study permit or if student is not enrolled in full time studies. VIU is listed as an Employer and it is valid for the period of practicum, internship or coop work.

Post Graduate Work Permit


This type of work permit is for after you complete from your program of studies.

This type of work permit is granted only once in a life time when an International student completes a program at an eligible Canadian education institution. The PGWP is an “open work permit” and graduates are permitted to work for any employer within Canada (subject to the note about medical examination included above). Application can be made online or outside of Canada, within 90 or 180 days of program completion. If a student wants to apply for PGWP within 180 days of program completion they must change status to Visitor. As a Visitor they lose the ability to work legally while waiting for the decision on PGWP application. Therefore, best option is to apply for PGWP within 90 days of study program completion. Please note, convocation date is not the program completion date. The Application processing fee is $155 CAD and the fee for an open work permit is $100 CAD.

Temporary Foreign Worker work permit

You may be eligible for this type of work permit including after your PGWP expires.

International graduates may be eligible for this type of work permit, after they complete their time on their PGWP. Employers may be required to get a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Service Canada. LMIA fee is $1,000 CAD and certain jobs are LMIA exempt.