International Students

Studying in another country is an exciting opportunity to broaden your cultural, interpersonal and academic perspectives even further. Although your time at SFU may already technically be “study abroad,” expanding your horizons can also bring additional professional benefits. While there are many transition considerations when leaving Canada, it is particularly important to be aware of the immigration rules in Canada for SFU international students, going on an SFU Study Abroad program outside of Canada. It is essential to connect with an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist to learn more about how participating in a study abroad program may affect your immigration status in Canada.

Note: This resource page is intended for SFU international students. Information as it relates to your exchange destination will be covered in pre-departure orientation materials provided by the SFU Study Abroad team. 

Getting Started

  • It is crucial to plan at least 1 to 3 terms in advance of your term abroad, as administrative processes may take weeks and often build upon each other. 

  • If you have questions about how your participation in an exchange program may impact your Canadian immigration status (including your study permit, temporary resident visa, work eligibility during your studies, and/or post-graduation work permit eligibility), contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist

Study Abroad Program Selection 

Research your study abroad program with consideration to term dates. Field School program dates are within SFU's term dates, however if you are selecting an exchange institution that overlaps with two SFU terms, consult with an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist before making this decision, as your eligibility for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) may be impacted (see below on enrollment status while abroad).

If you wish to participate in an exchange to your home country, be sure to check the program page of your desired institution for eligibility criteria, and speak with a Study Abroad Officer of the region for more guidance.

Preparing to Go Abroad & Returning

Travelling Outside of Canada & Re-Entering

Please refer to the Government of Canada’s requirements for international students travelling outside Canada and then re-entering.

Passport or Travel Document

  • Make sure that your passport or travel document is valid for your re-entry to Canada.

Study Permit

  • Ensure that your study permit is valid when you are re-entering Canada.
  • If you applied to extend your study permit, the application must be approved at the time of re-entry,  in order for you to be allowed to study upon returning to Canada.  Visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for more information about leaving Canada while a study permit extension application is in progress.

Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) & Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) 

  • Depending on your country of citizenship(s) you may require a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or a valid electronic travel authorization (eTA) to travel back to Canada.   Visit the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website to see whether you require a TRV or an eTA. 
  • Visit our FAQ page for more information about what you may need if you intend to leave and re-enter Canada.
  • Visit the IRCC website and the SFU website for instructions about how to apply for a TRV inside Canada. If you are a visa-required citizen, you may also apply for a TRV from outside Canada but the TRV must be valid when you re-enter Canada.  

Enrollment Status While Abroad

  • Be aware of your enrollment status in Canada during your time abroad. To be eligible for a post-graduation work permit after graduation, international students must continuously enroll (study) full time throughout their SFU degree (i.e., every Fall and Spring term for undergraduate students; all terms for graduate students) in addition to meeting all PGWP Program criteria. Visit the SFU website to review the definition of full-time study for Canadian immigration purposes.  

Dual Citizens 

  • If you currently have or are in the process of obtaining dual citizenship (becoming a citizen of more than one country), research and understand the legal responsibilities and benefits of the citizenship that you choose to enter the host country. For example, you would want to investigate any social/military service obligations, health insurance eligibility, paying taxes and so on. 
  • Country-specific information about dual citizenship is available on Travel Advice and Advisories (select the country, then select the ‘Entry/exit requirements’ tab and ‘Laws and culture’ tab). You may also reach out to the Consulate, Embassy, or High Commission of your country of citizenship.

Questions & Considerations

What tuition rate do I pay?

Tuition is paid directly to SFU for all study abroad programs, not listed as Direct Fee-Paying institutions. SFU International student tuition rates still apply for exchange destinations and field schools (at the normal/basic rate). However, for Fee-paying Exchange Programs you pay international tuition and fees directly to the host institution. These specific programs are listed as "Direct Fee-Paying" institutions in the program name in the Study Abroad System.

Can I study abroad in my final term before graduation?


If you are a SFU international student and you are considering pursuing study abroad in your final term of study, there are important Canadian immigration-related considerations to keep in mind including:

  • The expiry date of your Canadian immigration documents (e.g. study permit) 
  • The expiry date of your Canadian visa /or electronic travel authorization (if applicable), particularly if you intend to return to Canada after your study abroad term
  • Whether you intend on applying for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) after completing your studies at SFU
  • There are specific deadlines to apply for a PGWP which may be impacted by term dates at your host institution, the timing of exchange credit being transferred and assessed, and when you will receive proof of program completion from SFU
  • Other considerations based on your specific circumstances 

Given the above, international students who wish to pursue study abroad in their final term of study are advised to speak with an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist.  An International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist can go through applicable considerations with you so you can make an informed decision.  


Apply for your exchange credit as early as possible to avoid delays to your graduation. Meeting with an ISA in advance to discuss implications such as your ability to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit and complying with enrollment requirements.

The above are some examples of considerations, but there may be others depending on you meeting your degree completion requirements etc.

Travelling to and through Other Countries

Research your host country’s immigration requirements for the host country, or other countries you may be travelling to. If you are travelling through the United States or other countries en route to your host country, you may need to go through immigration. Ensure you have any required immigration documents if this is the case and be prepared for any visa / entry requirements for countries (other than your host country) that you are planning to travel and/or transit through. Immigration requirements may change without notice, so be sure to confirm visa / entry requirements expecially when booking flights with stop-overs. To request applicable requirements, contact your country of citizenship consular office in Canada.

Adjusting Length of Stay Abroad

If you are considering changing the length of your stay or leaving your host country earlier than planned, connect with the Study Abroad Officer for your region, your academic advisor, and an international student advisor. Connect with your respective advisors on the possible impacts of the change to your planned timing and duration.  

Medical Insurance while Studying Abroad in your Home Country

Your travel health insurance coverage may be void including if you are an international student/dual citizen returning to your country of citizenship. If travelling to your country of citizenship, make sure to verify that your plan will cover you.

Safety Abroad

Check out the Safety and Study Abroad section on the SFU Study Abroad website for detailed information and resources on travel safety abroad including emergency contacts and mental wellness support while abroad. 

Student Experiences

Planning for Exchange or Study Abroad Trip

Ali Najaf shares his experience on how to prepare for study abroad and shares the benefits of international education: "One of the best things you can do during your undergraduate degree is to go for an exchange at another university in a different country. Going on exchange gives you not only ample opportunity to study at a different university but is also a great platform to grow with like-minded students while learning from and engaging with various cultures."

Continue exploring your options with these next steps:

1) Attend a Study Abroad or Exchange Info Session
2) Research your Options
3) Learn how to Fund Your Study Abroad
4) Speak with a Study Abroad Advisor