Newcomers and Refugees

Last Updated: July 22, 2022

This step-by-step guide is for new students with permanent residence or refugee status, as well as Canadian citizens who are new to Canada. This is your go-to place for all the resources and to-do items before and after you start at SFU.

Use the links below to navigate to different sections on this page. Before you begin, download the checklist.

Download Checklist



Step 1. Know your advising resources to support your time at SFU.

International Services for Students

International Services for Students provides a variety of support, programming and non-academic advising on topics such as Canadian immigration documents (e.g. study permits, visas) and medical insurance, exchange and study abroad.

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Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

If you are a graduate student, there are additional resources and supports available for international students through Gradudate and Postdoctoral Studies.

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Academic Advising

Academic advisors can assist you with everything from specific questions about enrollment and course selection, to complex questions about your future. Review important deadlines and academic calendar.

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Refugee and Newcomer Programs

SFU International Services for Students (ISS) provides support services for SFU students who identify as refugees or newcomers. SFU also partners with World University Services of Canada (WUSC) to directly sponsor refugee students via the Student Refugee Program (SRP).

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Step 2. Review medical insurance coverage information.

Medical Insurance at SFU

Apply for the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) if you are a permanent resident or Canadian citizen and have not already done so. Enrolment in BC MSP is mandatory for all residents except for Canadian students moving from another province.

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Medical Insurance for Refugees

 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.

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If you are a Refugee Claimant and paying international tuition fees to SFU, you will be automatically enrolled in the International Medical Insurance plan. The International Medical Insurance fees will be assessed to your SFU student account. Opt-out of if you have BC MSP or equivalent medical insurance plan.

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Step 3. Sign up for transition programs.

Global Connections Program

This is a peer-support program for undergraduate students 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.

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Graduate Student Orientation

Make new friends across all our academic disciplines, build a base of support as you enter grad school, and connect with our service units that will support you throughout their graduate career.

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Step 4. Know your resources.

Explore Resources by Topic

From how to apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to opening a bank account and choosing a cell phone plan, explore important information and resources tailored for students from international pathways.

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Community Resources

There are a number of services and resources you can access in the community for international, newcomer, and refugee students by local not-for-profit organizations. 

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