Newcomers and Refugees

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.

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

▶  For Teaching Assistants, Tutor Markers, and some Research Assistants, MSP and partial short-term medical insurance is part of your employee benefits. Contact SFU Human Resources o for MSP application information

☑ 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


MSP Premium Assistance o: If you have resided in Canada as a Canadian citizen or holder of permanent resident status for at least 12 months and have a family income of $42,000 or less, check your eligibility to apply for Premium Assistance 

Step 2. Learn about SFU

Undergraduate Students

☑ Complete University Prep o. You will receive (or have already received) an email invitation once you accept your offer of admission. 

▶ 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.

Graduate Students

☑ Check out the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Virtual Orientation o


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

Undergraduate Students

☑ 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.

All Students

☑ 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 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.

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