International Undergraduate

This step-by-step guide is for new international undergraduate students coming to SFU from outside of Canada. This is your go-to place for all the resources and to-do items before and after you start at SFU.

This page is regularly reviewed and updated and was last updated on February 24, 2021.


Step 1. Prepare your study permit and other documents.

Before you begin your studies at SFU, you must apply for your Canadian immigration documents which includes your study permit.  Apply early to ensure your application is processed in time. 

Apply for a Study Permit

A study permit is required if you are pursuing a program of study at SFU that is longer than 6 months in duration. If you will be starting your program of study remotely outside of Canada due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you must still apply for a study permit. You should apply for your study permit once you receive your SFU letter of acceptance. You will require a valid study permit for all in-Canada components of your study program.

Learn more >


Step 2. Know your resources to support your time at SFU

Understanding student support services will get you a head start in your academic journey at SFU.

International Services for Students

International Services for Students provides a variety of support and programming for all SFU students.  Access non-academic advising on topics such as Canadian immigration documents (e.g. study permits, visas) and medical insurance, exchange and study abroad, and stay engaged by participating in ISS programs and events.

Learn More >

Instruction Guides and Resources

Access over 40 instruction guides, information sheets, and video resources on immigration and non-immigration topics.

Learn More >

Advising and Support

Academic advisors can assist you with everything from specific questions about enrollment and course selection, to complex questions about your future. Find out more about other helpful advising and support services. 

Learn More >

Explore Resources by Topic

Explore important information and resources tailored for students from international pathways.

Learn More >


Step 3. Review medical insurance coverage information

The Canadian health system provides a high standard of health care, but care is very expensive if you are not insured. You must have medical insurance for the entire duration of your studies. 

Medical Insurance at SFU

As a new international student at SFU, you will be automatically enrolled in 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). Students staying in BC for 6 months or longer are required to enrol in the British Columbia Medical Services Plan (BC MSP) under the Medicare Protection Act.

Learn more >

Opting Out

As an international student you are automatically enrolled in medical insurance plan for your first term at SFU. Check to see if you are eligible to cancel (opt out of) the Plan and receive a full or partial refund.

SFSS Health and Dental Plan is your secondary medical insurance. May-start students can self-enrol for your first semester at SFU.

Learn more >

Step 4. Know your health and wellbeing support

The transition to university life 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.

MY SSP (Student Support Program)

With My SSP, all graduate and undergraduate students have access to immediate or ongoing, confidential support - accessible from anywhere in the world by phone or through the downloadable app. Worldwide, immediate options are available 24/7 in English, French, Korean, Chinese, Arabic and Spanish.

Learn more >

Support for International Students

A Transition Case Manager is available to support the well-being of students by assisting in their transition into and out of SFU, BC and Canada by connecting them to resources, providing mental health support, and promoting personal growth and development. 

Learn more >

Step 5. Sign up for orientation and transition programs

Orientation and transition programs help you learn about your new academic environment, connect you with other students, and introduce you to SFU staff and faculty.

University Prep

It's a free online course that will help you prepare for your academic transition to SFU. Each step will take about 30 minutes to complete and take you step by step through what you need to know and do before classes start.

Learn More >

Get SFU-Ready

We hope you will join us for this live Q&A, where the presenters will provide a brief overview of the selected topics for international students and give you a chance to ask any questions you still have. The next session will be held on March 22, 2021.

Learn more >

Orientation: Welcome Day

Welcome Day is for all students starting at SFU this Summer. Let us welcome you and introduce you to your new community.

Learn More >

SFU 101 & The HIVE

HIVE is your Home for Interactive Virtual Engagement, where you and a small group of fellow new students are connected in a fun and engaging way to build a virtual community.

SFU 101 is a free online course to help you transition to SFU and prepare for academic success. SFU 101 gives you tips for a successful first year on campus.

Learn More >


Step 6. Confirm your enrollment requirements and work eligibility.

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.

Enrollment Requirements

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.

Learn More >

Work Eligibility

Determine your eligibility to work on campus and off campus with your study permit by reviewing the requirements.  If you have not already done so, apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) if you are planning to work in Canada.

Learn More >

Step 7. Learn your resources for studying remotely

There are various resources to support you in an online learning environment. 

Adapting to Online Learning

Student Services has created a dedicated toolkit with tips for online learners and online etiquette. This guide was created to help students transition to an online learning environment.

Learn More >

Student Learning Commons

SFU’s Library Student Learning Commons offers expert and friendly help in various topics, including strategies for online courses, using technology effectively, managing technology, and time management at University.

Learn More >

Student Success in Remote Learning 

Learning remotely requires unique strategies for online collaboration and engagement. The curated list of resources on this Canvas training will help you navigate the transition to the remote learning environment successfully. 

Learn More >

IT Services: E-Learning

Check out e-learning resources available for you including course management systems, lecture recordings, and how to check your grades online.

Learn More >

Step 8. Stay connected with other SFU students

Meet other undergraduate students and stay connected with SFU community. 

Events and Workshops

With numerous virtual events and workshops offered by ISS, you can connect with your peers remotely and learn up to date information on selected topics from subject-matter experts.

Learn More >

Global Connections Program

This is a peer-support program which provides the opportunity to learn about the culture of SFU while making new friends and exploring what the community has to offer. The program is offered in Fall and Spring. Sign up to get a notification when the Fall 2021 membership application is open.

Learn more >

PREPARING FOR YOUR ARRIVAL - When it is safe to do so

Before you arrive:

As the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve, so does the Government of Canada’s response to the pandemic. Before travelling to Canada, students should be aware of travel restrictions to Canada and requirements upon entering Canada in order to ensure their own safety and the safety of others. 

Step 1. Review the current travel restrictions to ensure that you are eligible to travel to Canada at this time.

COVID-19 FAQ: Travelling to Canada

To help stop the spread of COVID-19, the Government of Canada has implemented travel restrictions that limit travel to Canada. The requirements to enter Canada continue to evolve as the situation with COVID-19 evolves. Please do not make any arrangements to travel to Canada at this time if you do not meet the requirements.

Learn More >

Step 2. Review the Travelling to Canada: Self-Isolation Guide and register your plans

Travelling to Canada: Self-Isolation Guide

This guide has been prepared to assist any new and returning international students who are currently outside of Canada, and plan to travel to BC to return to studies. Any student arriving from outside of Canada must self-isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days upon their arrival and complete/register a self-isolation plan. 

Learn More >

SFU International Arrival Plans

You must register your plans for travel and self-isolation with SFU as early as possible. This will also give you better access to supports during your self-isolation and help us to support you before and after your arrival. 

Learn More >

Step 3. Find housing and decide where to live

Housing Resources

Research housing options and consider making an advance appointment and discuss with International Student Advisors before making a decision on off-campus housing to avoid housing scams.

Learn More >

SFU Residence and Housing

Living in Residence is perhaps the best way to get the most out of your university experience. Spaces are limited, so apply as early as possible. 

Learn More >

Arriving in Canada:                                                                                           

Review the information below to ensure you’re prepared when entering Canada.

Step 4. Arrive at the port of entry (border)

Arrive at the Port of Entry

When you arrive at the Canadian port of entry (border) there are several things to keep in mind, including holding the appropriate immigration documents reflecting your purpose for coming to Canada. Additional screening measures are in place at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) for people returning to BC from international locations. 

Learn More >

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) Expedited Processing Submission Form

The Vancouver International Airport (YVR) Expedited Processing Submission Form is an online form you can complete prior to arriving at YVR. Completing this form is optional, however it will expedite the process of issuing your study permit at YVR. Click here to access the form.  Additional information can be found in the link below (scroll down to Step 4).

Learn More > 

Leaving the Airport

There are multiple transportation options that you can use to get to your accommodations once arriving to Vancouver. Wearing a mask or face covering will be required during transportation. Use private transportation to get to your place of quarantine, if possible.

Learn More >

After You Arrive                                                                                                 

 Step 5. Complete settlement tasks


Learn more about how to open a bank account and the list of banks in Canada.

Learn More >

BC Medical Services Plan

Students staying in BC for 6 months or longer are required to enrol in the British Columbia Medical Services Plan (BC MSP) under the Medicare Protection Act. Apply for BC MSP as soon as you arrive in BC.

Learn More >

Social Insurance Number

A Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a number that the Canadian government requires for taxation purposes and without one, you can not get paid. A SIN is required only if you earn income in Canada, on or off campus.  This number enables your employer to make the necessary government deductions.

Learn More >

Driver's License/BCID

If you are a full-time international student and planning to drive in BC, you may do so with a valid international driving licence. While driving, carry your valid International Driving Permit or home driver's licence (and an official translation if it is not in English), your valid SFU student ID card and your study permit. If you are not a driver, you can apply for a BCID card which can be a reliable piece of government photo ID.