International Undergraduate

This step-by-step guide is for new international undergraduate students coming from outside Canada.


 Step 1. Prepare your study permit and other documents

☑ Apply and receive approval for a study permit

▶ Apply early -- you must wait for your application to be approved before travelling to Canada

▶ If you are a citizen or permanent resident of the USA, you have the option of submitting your application upon your arrival at a Canadian Port of Entry (e.g. your airport of arrival or land crossing into Canada)

☑ Before travelling to Canada, ensure you have the following: 

▶ a valid passport or travel document,

▶ a valid Temporary Resident Visa/TRV or Electronic Travel Authorization/eTA (if required),

▶ your SFU letter of acceptance,

proof of funds o, and

▶ your IRCC letter of introduction o

☑ Purchase early arrival medical insurance coverage o, if you will arrive in Canada before the first day of the term (e.g. May 1, Sept 1, or Jan 1). Your medical insurance coverage through and SFSS Studentcare will start on the first day of the term. 

 Step 2. Plan your arrival

☑ Check out the Vancouver International Airport website o to get a detailed overview of the airport arrival process

☑ Plan your route and transportation o from the airport to your desination

☑ Make electronic copies of important original documents. Leave a copy with family or friends as well

 Step 3. Find housing

☑ Research housing options: on campus or off campus

▶ Consider making an advance appointment with an International Student Advisor to learn more about how to educate yourself in identifying potentional rental scams, which you may find while looking for off-campus housing. 

☑ (If applicable) Apply for on-campus housing as soon as possible, spaces are limited

 Step 4. Learn about SFU

☑ Complete University Prep o. You will receive (or have already received) an email invitation once you accept your offer of admission. This course includes a module for international students.

▶ It's a free online course that will help you prepare for SFU. You will learn about the academic culture, degree requirements, course enrollment procedures, and our wide range of opportunities and resources. Assessment evidence shows that students who complete the course have higher rates of academic success and GPAs than those who don't.

▶ You will receive your first Co-Curricular Record o accreditation for completing these courses.

☑ Sign up and attend Welcome Day o

▶ Welcome Day is for all new undergraduate students starting at SFU. During this day you will:

  • meet your professors, classmates and the SFU staff who will help launch your time at SFU
  • find out more about your program of study
  • get comfortable on campus
  • receive free SFU merchandise, including a t-shirt

☑ Sign up for the Global Connections Program o

▶ When you join the Global Connections Program, you can request to be matched with a Community Leader to support you and answer your questions one-on-one about all aspects of life at SFU. You will also be meeting other SFU students through various events, activities, and trips over the course of one term. See photos of our past events and programming on our Facebook and Instagram.


Burnaby Campus Tour


 Step 5. Arrive at the port of entry

☑ Review your immigration documents, such as your study permit, carefully upon receiving them at the airport or land border

▶ If you notice any errors on your or your family's immigration documents (e.g. name, personal information) request changes before you leave immigration

▶ Check the conditions/remarks relating to your work eligibility while you study. Ensure the details under the client information section are correct on the study permit issued to you

☑ If you are a citizen or permanent resident of the USA, you have the option of submitting your study permit application upon your arrival at a Canadian Port of Entry (e.g. your airport of arrival or land crossing into Canada)


 Step 6. Plan your finances

☑ Open a bank account

☑ Check your financial aid options

 Step 7. Ensure you have proper medical insurance coverage

As a new international student at SFU, you will be automatically enrolled in a 4-month primary medical insurance plan with for your first term of studies. This is to ensure you have valid coverage during the waiting period for public health insurance under the BC Medical Services Plan (BC MSP).

☑ Apply for the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) o as soon as you arrive. Your coverage will begin two to three months after your arrival date in BC. If you will be residing in BC for six months or longer, it is mandatory for you to enroll yourself and any accompanying family members in BC MSP.

☑ Opt out of the o plan when your BC MSP takes effect (after the waiting period). You may be eligible for a partial refund of the fee if there is more than one month remaining in the term, and you have not used the plan. 

Check opt-out deadlines for o

☑ Make changes to your secondary insurance o if necessary (i.e. opt down to the basic plan, opt out with equivalent coverage, add family members) during the opt-out period for Studentcare.

▶ Check opt-out period for Studentcare o

 Step 8. Confirm your enrollment requirements and work eligibility

☑ Maintain enrollment requirements o as an international student

▶ Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) requires you to actively pursue your studies while at SFU. SFU is required to report on the enrollment status of international students twice a year.

▶ Your enrollment at SFU affects your ability to work, study, and stay in Canada. To help you comply with the conditions of your study permit, review the information in this section carefully and contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist if you have any questions.

☑ Determine your eligibility to work on campus o or off campus o

☑ Apply for a Social Insurance Number(SIN) o if you are eligible and planning to work in Canada. 

▶ You must provide your SIN to your employer within three days of starting work.

▶ At the beginning of the Fall and Spring terms, Service Canada offers on-campus SIN clinics to help you apply for a SIN on campus. See upcoming sessions here

 Step 9. Get the most out of your time at SFU

☑ Complete SFU 101 o to help you transition to SFU and prepare for academic success.

▶ This continues on from University Prep and gives you tips for a successful first year on campus. You will be automatically enrolled in SFU 101 at the beginning of your first term and you will receive Co-Curricular Record o accreditation for completing these courses.

☑ Follow ISS on Facebook o and Instagram o for the upcoming events, opportunities, and important reminders

☑ Sign up for Events and Programs o offered by International Services for Students

☑ Read ISS Newsletter sent to your SFU Mail account to stay up-to-date on advising, immigration, medical, opportunities, and important reminders. 

Get involved o in your SFU community!

 Step 10. Know your resources to support your transition

☑ The transition to life as an international student in a new country can be exciting, but isn't always easy. SFU has a number of supports available to you if you are struggling. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you are having a difficult time at any stage of your SFU degree -- we're here to help.

☑ Adjusting to a new academic and social culture can be challenging. Read more about this topic o


SFU Health and Counselling Services oWhether you're looking for assistance with managing school stress or understanding Canadian services, the Transition Case Manager is here to provide one-to-one support for international students

MySSP o: With My SSP, all graduate and undergraduate students will have access to immediate or ongoing, confidential support - accessible from anywhere in the world by phone or through the downloadable app.

SFSS Food Bank o: Facing hunger or serious financial pressures? Apply for and redeem a $25 food certificate up to 3 times per semester.

SFU Career and Volunteer Services oIf you are not sure what you can do with your degree and want to learn career development strategies you can meet with Career Education speacialist for one-on-one support or attend group career workshops

Bursaries o: Bursaries are a supplemental source of funding for students with demonstrated financial need, and are available to international students.