The VIS only handles the area geometry. As far as I can tell, the entire room you are in is rendered at any time, as well as any of the rooms listed in the VIS under that room. Everything else is dependent on whether your character is currently looking at it, which is why you get nonsense like shadows taking a few seconds to appear when it cuts to another camera angle. So characters and placeables and such behind walls won't be rendered; objects themselves don't seem to obstruct vision in this way, however, which was how Obsidian was able to make Force Sight see through doors.
Now, obviously they did something to the window in the Refugee Sector so that it would work like a window, allowing you to see objects on the other side. But for some reason they didn't do that with the window by the landing pad; it seems to function like a regular wall.