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:

1. Passport

A passport is your travel document that certifies your nationality and ensures protection from your country in abroad. Canadian documents such as your Study Permit, Visa, 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 a new or replace study permit and temporary resident visa (TRV) if you are planning to travel.

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, please immediately report to the nearest Police Office and obtain an incident report number.  Then contact your country Embassy or Consulate.  Make it a habit to leave a copy of your passport with someone you trust (parent, close friend or relative) before you travel overseas.  It is highly recommended not to give away your passport to persons (e.g. taxi driver, your Education Agent or others, in exchange for money or services) who are not a government authority.

2. Study Permit

A Study Permit is a permission to study 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 has to be valid at all times. In certain situations when you have applied for a new study permit before your old one expires and waiting for the decision then you may be on implied status. During implied status (waiting time) student's previous study permit conditions will apply and they can continue their studies. Exchange, ESL students attending only one semester do not need a study permit if their study period is less than six months and they will complete their program during their stay within or less than six months.

3. Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Visitor's Visa

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) starting September 29, 2016 when entering Canada by air.

4. Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

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, now 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 will be 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 for more information on obtaining an eTA.

5. Work Permit

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

NOTE: that a work permit may not authorize work in certain occupations where public health protection is essential. The 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.

Types of Work Permit

International students are often confused regarding the types of work permits they 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 or Co-op practicum


This type of work permit allows International students to gain valuable work experience (practicum) in their field of studies. It is called a Co-op or Internship work permit and it will be valid only if the student maintains a valid Study Permit. There is no Application fee for a Co-op/Internship 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 given 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 students are permitted to work for any Employer within Canada (subject to the note about medical examination included above). Application can be made online or by paper inside or outside of Canada, within 90 days of program completion. Convocation date is not the program completion date. 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, such as 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 $1000 CAD and certain jobs are LMIA exempt.

6. Permanent Residence

Presentation delivered at VIU by IRCC official (October 23, 2019) 

Express Entry





BC Provincial Nominee Program: Immigration Pathways for International Students

 7.US visas 

us_visa_0916.pdf (Presentation from the US Consulate General - Vancouver)


Keep an eye on your important documents


All your immigration documents rely on the expiry date of your passport. Be sure to renew it 6 months before its expiry. Apply for renewal though your country’s Consulate.
Study PermitApply for renewal 3 months before it expires, not earlier. Then submit a copy of your new study permit to VIU Building 255 front desk
Co-op/ Internship Work PermitIf your program has a co-op, internship or practicum work term, you will need a separate work permit. Apply for it when you renew your study permit, you may also apply separately.
TRV (Temporary Resident Visa)Renew your Temporary Resident Visa after you receive a new study permit. It is good to have a valid TRV if you are planning to travel.
BC MSP (Medical Service Plan)Take your new Study Permit into Service BC (460 Selby Street, Nanaimo) to get a new BC MSP Card. Be sure to check your coverage if you are travelling outside of BC in Canada.
SIN (Social Insurance Number)To apply for, or renew, take your study permit and co-op/post-graduation work permit (PGWP) along with your passport into Service Canada (60 Front Street, Nanaimo)


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

Contact the Faculty of International Education

Location: VIU, Building 255
Phone: 250 740-6315
Email: International Student Advisors:
Website: International Student Advising

Get an assistance from an Advisor

International Student Advisors: Makhbuba (Mak) Ergasheva, Mohammed Hawamdeh are Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC) and can assist you with your immigration documents during immigration advising drop-in time.

Please remember when e-mailing to include your student number in the subject line and the following information in the body of your messages to us:

  • Your full (first and last) name
  • Expiration dates of your study permit, visa, co-op work permit 
  • If you are currently in Canada or elsewhere

Please refer to Government of Canada: Immigration and Citizenship for the most accurate immigration information, or contact VIU International Student Advisors.


The content of this page is not a substitute for legal immigration advice. It is for information purposes only and can change without notice. Please refer to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website for up-to-date information.