06/08/2014 06:34 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:06 EDT

Nigerian students who were deported for visa violations return to Regina

REGINA - Two Nigerian students have returned to Saskatchewan after being deported last year for visa violations.

Friends and supporters greeted Victoria Ordu and Ihouma Amadi at the airport in Regina on Saturday following months of paperwork that has allowed them to return to Canada.

Both of their scholarships at the University of Regina have been reinstated.

The two students were told in June 2012 that they had to leave Canada because they took summer jobs off campus at Walmart without proper student work permits.

They only had social insurance cards that allowed them to work on campus. They said they didn't realize the mistake.

The women took refuge in a Regina church for nearly 500 days before they agreed to leave Canada last fall.

"It's amazing having everyone here. We are thankful, so much," Ordu said at the airport on Saturday. "We feel loved and we're happy to be back to finish our education."

"We're happy to be given the opportunity to complete our education and we're happy at the level of support we've received so far," said Amadi.

The pair had completed three years of study at the university and had the support of fellow students and the provincial government among others.

The student visa rules were changed in January.

Both students will live in residence and hope to be in class by the fall session.

Kay Adebogun, their immigration representative, said the two women wanted to return to Saskatchewan instead of going somewhere else.

"Saskatchewan played a great role. The University of Regina was front and centre with this case," he said. "It all started from here, it needs to end here. This is where they came to spend the first three-four years of their lives."