International Students

International graduate students bring valuable perspectives, insights and experiences to the university. If you are a current international student, this section will provide tips and resources to help you make the most of your grad experience.

If you are a new student, visit our Virtual Orientation page to help you find your way through getting settled in Metro Vancouver and getting established in the Canadian university system.

We are committed to helping you throughout your graduate program. If you have a question that's not answered below, please email gradintl@sfu.ca.

As a graduate student, you are busy with your research, work and life. As an international graduate student, you already know that you will need to plan ahead for travelling home or abroad for conferences or study opportunities.

You can save yourself time, stress and money by understanding the rules, planning ahead, and keeping yourself informed about any policy changes.

We've put together a few tips and resources to help you out.

Tip 1:  Stay updated on government policy and procedural changes

Subscribe to the Grad Studies Blog for the latest updates. Our Grad Students facebook page is also a great place to get updates, ask questions and share advice. You will also automatically receive weekly email updates from International Services for Students.

The International Services for Students also has some excellent resources and instructional handouts available on their website which cover a variety of frequently-asked-questions, from applying for work permits, travelling to the USA, inviting family to Canada and much more.

Tip 2:  Keep track of expiry dates and plan ahead for travel

If your passport and/or any of your immigration documents will expire before the end of your degree, please contact an International Student Advisor for assistance at least six months in advance.

This is especially important if you plan to travel, as you may need to complete all or some of the following steps, depending on your personal situation:

  • Step 1: Passport renewal
    If you need to renew your passport, consult with your country’s embassy or consulate in Canada at least six months in advance. A list of foreign representatives in Canada can be found on the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada website. Processing times will vary.
     
  • Step 2: Study Permit renewal
    If you need to renew your study and work permits (and any family members' documents), plan to apply at least four months in advance of expiration, if possible. Instructions can be downloaded on the International Services for Students' website. Check processing times on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website (updated weekly).

    Tip:
    When you receive your new study permit, send a copy to the BC Medical Services Plan to renew your Carecard (or, if you are a TSSU employee, submit a copy to Human Resources in Strand Hall). You will also need to renew your Social Insurance Number (SIN) through Service Canada.
     
  • Step 3: Temporary Resident Visa application
    If you are a citizen of a country which requires a temporary resident visa (TRV or entry visa) in addition to a study permit, ensure it is valid for re-entry into Canada. (See list of countries)

    You can apply for a new single or multiple-entry TRV at the visa office responsible for your home country, or by mailing your passport and application to the Case Processing Centre in Ottawa before your trip.  See the CIC website for instructions. A handout is also available on the International Services for Students' website.

    Processing times for applying to the Case Processing Centre in Ottawa may increase during peak travel times such as summer or as holidays approach. Check CIC's website for updated time-frames.  If possible, apply at least two months before your expected departure.  If you will be travelling sooner, chat with an International Student Advisor  about your options.

    Tip: 
    An agreement between Canada and the United States allows you to re-enter Canada without a temporary resident visa after a visit solely to the US. You will need a valid passport and a valid study permit to re-enter Canada. To be safe, print out the section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that mentions this temporary resident visa exemption policy and take it with you - scroll down to Division 5 - 190 (3) (f) to view the policy. You should also always travel with a current confirmation of enrollment letter, downloadable from your Student Information System account.

    New: As of August 1, 2015, non-U.S. foreign nationals who are exempt from the temporary resident visa (TRV) will require an electronic travel authorization (eTA) to enter Canada by air. If you are a U.S. citizen or you currently hold a valid TRV, you will be exempt from this new eTA entry requirement. Upon approval, the eTA is valid for five years or the expiry date of your passport whichever comes first. Please note that the implementation of the eTA program will become mandatory as of March 15, 2016.

  • Step 4: Other visa applications
    If you require a visa for another country, a list of foreign representatives in Canada can be found on the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada website.

These documents typically must be applied for in sequence; therefore, for students renewing several documents, the entire process could take up to six months!