Newcomers and Refugees

In this Welcome Guide, you will be able to access general information, procedures, and resources on what to do before and after you start at SFU.

For latest updates and specific information on COVID-19 click below.

Information for Students: SFU COVID-19 FAQ resources

This step-by-step guide is for new students with permanent residency or refugee status, as well as Canadian citizens who are new to Canada. This guides includes a downloadable checklist and resources list.

This page is regularly reviewed and updated and was last updated on June 15, 2020. If you copy or print information from this page,  refer to the live content on the page for any updates when using the information in the future.

If you are a refugee in Canada who has not yet landed as a permanent resident and need advice on the study permit application process, please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist.


Step 1. Ensure you have proper medical insurance coverage

☑ Apply for the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) o if you are a permanent resident or Canadian citizen and have not already done so. British Columbia (B.C.) residents are no longer charged MSP premiums. Enrolment in MSP remains mandatory for all residents

☑ If you do not yet have BC MSP, arrange for primary insurance coverage to cover you until your MSP application is processed

▶ If you have not yet landed as a permanent resident,you will be automatically enrolled in a 4-month primary medical insurance plan with for your first term of studies. 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.

☑ If you are a refugee and do not yet have BC MSP, apply for Interim Federal Health (IFH) and BC MSP. IFH will provide coverage while you wait for your MSP to take effect

Step 2. Learn about SFU

Graduate Students

☑ Check out the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Virtual Orientation o

Undergraduate Students

☑ Complete University Prep o. You will be sent an e-mail with an invitation to join the Canvas course. You will receive Co-Curricular Record o accreditation for completing this course. This course includes a module for international students.

▶ It's a free online course that will help you prepare for SFU and all the details you need to get started right during your first week, month, and term.

Welcome Day o is for all new undergraduate students starting at SFU. At the event, you will be able to:

▶ meet your professors, classmates and the SFU staff who will help launch your time at SFU

▶ find out more about your program of study

▶ feel more prepared to begin your first term

☑ 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

If you are new to Canada, read more information on transportation o  and/or finding housing o .


Step 3. Make changes to your secondary insurance if necessary

☑ Make changes to your secondary insurance 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.

▶  Undergraduate Students: SFSS Studentcare o

▶  Graduate Students: GSS Studentcare o

▶  Check opt-out period for Studentcare o

Step 4. Apply for a Social Insurance Number

☑ Review the information on how to Apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) o

▶ 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.

☑ Learn about filing a Canadian Income Tax o return 

Step 5. Get the most out of your time at SFU

All Students

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

☑ During the Fall 2020 term, we will be offering a number of virtual events and where you can connect with other SFU students. Stay informed about ISS plans by watching our Events and Programs o webpage.

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

▶ To subscribe to the newsletter, please email

Get involved o in your SFU community!

Step 6. Know your resources to support your transition

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

☑ The transition to life 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.


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 (for undergraduate students) o: Facing hunger or serious financial pressures? Apply for and redeem a $25 food certificate up to 3 times per term.

GSS Emergency Grocery Card Program (for graduate students) o: Facing hunger or serious financial pressures? Apply for and redeem a $50 grocery card once per term.

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.

Resources for LGBTQS+ students from International Pathways:

In partnership with SFSS Out On Campus, Health and Counselling Services is paying particular attention to the unique needs of LGBTQIA2S+ students. Click here to earn more o

Community resources on supporting LGBTQ newcomers in the Province of BC o

See more information on banking o and SFU financial aid o .