International & Out-of-Province Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Are graduate students from out of province or from outside Canada required to have health insurance?

YES. All students are required to have medical insurance. Health services in Canada can be very expensive if you don’t have complete medical coverage. There are two levels of medical insurance coverage in Canada: primary and secondary medical insurance. Together, these plans work to help you avoid unexpected health costs.

For more information, please visit SFU’s comprehensive medical insurance website.

What kind of services are available for international students new to SFU?

The International Services for Students office provides support and services for all students seeking information regarding a variety of international learning opportunities. Specific services and supports include: advising and programs for all degree-seeking international students and inbound exchange students; information about Exchanges, Study Abroad, and Field Schools; International Orientation; assistance with medical insurance, taxes, visas, work and study permits; and community engagement opportunities.

Their pre-arrival guide and International Student Handbook may help you prepare for your studies at SFU.

As an international student where can I go for advice?

International students can get advice from the International Services for Students office in person, via telephone to 778.782.4232, via email to

International student advisors can help you  with the following: 

  • study permit and temporary resident (entry) visas
  • on campus employment regulations
  • social insurance numbers (SIN)
  • co-op, post-graduation, and off-campus work permits
  • visitor visas and work permits for spouses/common-law partners
  • health insurance and the Canadian medical system
  • US visitor visas
  • personal, cultural and academic transition
  • any other non-academic questions or concerns

Can international students obtain employment while studying at SFU?

YES. International students with valid study permits can obtain employment. There are various employment options available. However, a Social Insurance Number (SIN) is required. Eligible students may apply for an SIN at a Service Canada office. If approved for a teaching assistantship or research assistantship, students will require a letter from us confirming information required by Service Canada. Contact the graduate program to request this information.

Is housing available on Campus?

YES. SFU Residence and Housing manage all student residences on campus. Residences include dormitories, family apartments, townhouses, towers, and a dining facility.

Where can I get information about student housing?

Residence and Housing has information on residence and off-campus housing. Information is provided to help future students and their parents make informed decisions about student housing.

What kind of support does SFU provide for students who want to live off campus?

Through Off Campus Housing Services, SFU provides a service to students who prefer to live off campus:  Using the off campus housing form (OCH101),  SFU students seeking housing can review a variety of types of property, post a personal profile, and search for potential roommates. Information is reviewed and posted daily, so you know your housing information is always up-to-date. SFU Students always search for FREE and can post and search for FREE for your ideal Roommate on the SFU Roommate Finder.

If I live off campus, will I need a car to get to the University?

NO. From Simon Fraser University students can access the city of Vancouver, North Burnaby, Coquitlam and New Westminster using public and rapid transit (Bus and Skytrain).  To help keep student transportation costs to a minimum, SFU has a “UPASS” program that provides you access to area transit facilities: with your name, your photo, and an indication of your enrollment status

The UPASS Program:  The U-Pass is funded in part by a mandatory student fee which is currently $104.36 per term (or $26.09 per month). The U-Pass fee is automatically added to your student account when you enroll in a U-Pass eligible course, and must be paid at the same time as you pay your fees and tuition.   The program is mandatory for all eligible SFU students and provides unlimited, all zone access to public transit in Metro Vancouver (the GVRD), including unlimited access to TransLink Bus (including Community Shuttles and West Vancouver Blue Buses), SkyTrain and SeaBus services (all zones), and discounts on West Coast Express Train fares.

What kind of services can I expect from the Library?

The SFU Library is dedicated to providing access to collections, services and facilities of the in support of the teaching, learning and research goals of the Simon Fraser University community.

What kind of study and computing space does the library provide?

There are a limited number of offices on 5th floor of the Bennett Library that are available to graduate students on a semesterly basis.  Offices are awarded to applicants through the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies (Maggie Benston, Room 1132 / 778.782.6568).

Specific library carrels throughout the Bennett Library are designated quiet study space. There is also a silent study room on the 5th floor. Group study rooms on the 2nd floor can be booked in advance.

The Bennett Library now offers computers with MS Office, statistical programs and other applications in our Information Commons facility on the 3rd floor. You need to sign on with your Academic Computing account identification. Other computers through the building offer access to the library catalogue, databases, e-journals and the Internet but not word processing, etc.  In addition, carrels on the 2nd and 6th floor offer laptop users plug-in access to the campus network. Laptop users with wireless network cards can access the campus wireless network within the Bennett library.