COVID-19 frequently asked admission questions

Last updated: July 30, 2020

February 2021: Spring and summer classes will be online, not in-person, but will still deliver a high-quality education and learning environment.

This webpage will be updated frequently.

We have made a number of changes to our campuses and services as we continue to maximize social distancing, and to protect the health and safety of our community. We are working hard to ensure your application will be evaluated fairly, even if you have experienced disruptions due to COVID-19. 

Questions?

Do you have additional questions?

Please connect with us.

Secondary school courses, exams

What happens if I can’t take my secondary school final exams?

We are aware of final exams being cancelled in many regions and the uncertainty of completing the school year. The disruption to your classes will not impact your application to SFU as most students will receive final transcripts and complete their secondary school studies. If this is not the case, please connect with us

If my secondary school is closed, will SFU consider final grades from online courses?

Yes, so long as you have an official grade on your transcript, we will use it in the admission evaluation. If you do not have a final grade for your online course but have 50% or more of the course completed, submit a Course Requirement Exception for review on a case-by-case basis.

What if I am unable to finish a secondary school required course for admission to Fall 2020?

We encourage you to complete as much of the school year as possible and we will evaluate your application fairly given the current circumstances. Please submit a Course Requirement Exception for review on a case-by-case basis.

My admission

Is SFU admitting students for Fall 2020?

Yes, SFU has been making Fall 2020 admission offers since early January based on interim and self-reported grades, depending on your curriculum. We have been working closely with students who have experienced challenges completing their admission requirements due to COVID-19 and will continue to do so.

I was admitted to the Summer 2020 term.  Is it going ahead?

SFU will continue operations throughout the summer term, while respecting the advice and instructions from governments and health authorities concerning health and safety. All instruction will be offered through remote methods during our upcoming summer semester – there will be no face-to-face instruction and no requirements for students to attend exams in-person.

I was admitted to the Fall 2020 term.  Is it going ahead?

Fall classes will be online, not in-person, but will still deliver a high-quality education and learning environment. Building on the online experience we’ve gained over the past months, we will continue to enhance our support for students as we prepare for fall. We’ve made it a priority to ensure students have a positive experience with online classes, with easy access to Academic Advisors and all the many student services and resources that remain available. Read more.

Is SFU still admitting students?

SFU has made a number of changes to our campus and services as we continue to maximize social distancing, and protect the health and safety of our community. For this reason, our team is working remotely and continuing to evaluate applications for Summer and Fall 2020.

Will I receive my offer of admission in the mail?

SFU has made a number of changes to our campus and services as we continue to maximize social distancing, and protect the health and safety of our community.  For this reason, we have suspended all paper admission offers.  Your offer of admission will arrive as a downloadable PDF via e-mail and you can view your status on goSFU.

When are admission offers made?

For secondary school applicants, we hope to have most of our admission offers completed by the end of April. For post-secondary applicants, by the end of May.

I am unable to attend SFU’s Fall term, can I defer my admission offer?

Yes, you can defer your admission for up to one year. For more information, visit defer your admission

Required documents

I was/will be unable to submit my documents before the deadline, due to the current situation. What can I do?

Student Recruitment and Admissions will work with you to ensure we have the information needed to evaluate your application for admission, Please contact us for more information. You can also upload copies of your official and unofficial documents and we will review them. If we require additional information, your goSFU to-do list will be updated. 

I was unable to self-report my secondary school grades, due to the current situation. What can I do?

Student Recruitment and Admissions will work with you to ensure we have the information needed to evaluate your application for admission. Please contact us for more information.

How is SFU receiving documents?

As our Student Recruitment and Admissions staff are working remotely, we are not able to process mailed documents. Instead, you can upload copies of your official and unofficial documents and we will review them. If we require additional information, your goSFU to-do list will be updated.

How do I submit my documents to SFU?

Official documents sent by mail or courier are being processed by the Undergraduate Admissions team. If due to COVID-19 you are unable to send your official document, please contact us.

Secondary school entrance scholarships

How are Entrance Scholarship offers being sent?

SFU has made a number of changes to our campus and services as we continue to maximize social distancing, and protect the health and safety of our community. For this reason, we have suspended all paper scholarship offers. Those selected for an Entrance Scholarship will receive it as a downloadable PDF via e-mail.

I have been selected for an Entrance Scholarship - what happens if my final grades do not meet the Entrance Scholarship requirement of grades in the 90% range or a minimum 31 International Baccalaureate points?

We recognize you have worked hard to be selected for an Entrance Scholarship and the disruption to your classes may have an impact on your grades. The Entrance Scholarship requirement continues to be grades in the 90% range or a minimum 31 International Baccalaureate points and we encourage you to complete the school year to the best of your ability. Final grades will be reviewed with consideration of the current circumstances, and those not meeting the requirements will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

I have been selected for an Entrance Scholarship – if I am unable to attend SFU’s Fall 2020 term, can I defer my scholarship offer?

All scholarship deferral requests are considered on a case-by-case basis.  To submit a request, you must:

  1. Complete an admission deferral request.
  2. Contact the Entrance Scholarship Coordinator at scholars@sfu.ca to explain why you are requesting a deferral of the scholarship.

International students

What happens if I can’t write an English assessment test to meet the English Language Requirement?

Student Recruitment and Admissions is working with students on a case-by-case basis, Please contact us for more information.

If you are applying for the Spring 2021 term, we recommend you write the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition.

As an international student, can I use the PDF admission offer for my Study Permit?

For advising about Study Permits, please contact International Services for Students.

Will a deferral impact my Study Permit?

For advising about Study Permits, please contact International Services for Students.

I am an international student and have questions regarding my immigration status (eg, study permit, work permit, visa). Who should I contact?

SFU international students, recent graduates, and newly admitted students who have questions about their immigration status in Canada, about applications currently being processed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), or about applications they will make in the near future, can contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist by live chat, email, virtual appointment, or phone for assistance.  

If you are in Canada and unable to go home because of concerns related to COVID-19, you must maintain your legal immigration status in Canada (eg, study permit, work permit, visitor). Please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist at International Services for Students (ISS) to discuss your options.

Updated April 22 

I am an incoming student living outside of Canada.  Can I still apply for a study permit?

If you have been accepted to SFU and have an SFU letter of acceptance you should apply for a study permit as soon as possible. You can find general information about applying for an initial study permit from outside of Canada on the ISS websiteIRCC advises all applicants outside of Canada to apply online for a study permit.  

If you have questions about applying for a study permit after reviewing our online resources, please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist for assistance.

Updated July 28

I need to give biometrics as part of my study permit application but biometrics appointments in my country of residence are cancelled until further notice.  What should I do?

You are required to provide biometrics if you have not done so for an application to come to Canada in the past 10 years (unless exempted).  For more information visit the IRCC website.  You can check to see if you already have valid biometrics on file using IRCC's check status tool

Many Visa Application Centres (VACs) and Application Support Centres (ASCs) are temporarily closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are required to provide biometrics, you can still submit your study permit application and pay the biometrics fee even if the VAC/ASC in your area is temporarily closed. IRCC has confirmed that biometrics collection has now been automatically extended until the sites in your area reopen. Your application will not be refused or closed if you are unable to meet the biometrics collection deadline. 

IRCC recommends to visit their website for updates on when biometrics collection will start again. You should schedule an appointment to give biometrics as soon as the biometrics collection centres resume normal operations.  For more information about biometrics enrollment amid COVID-19, please visit the IRCC website

Updated July 28

I have been accepted to SFU for an upcoming term and my courses will be online because of COVID-19. Can I start my program online from my home country? If so, how will that impact my post-graduation work permit eligibility?

You may begin your program of study online from outside of Canada without a valid study permit. You will however require a valid study permit for all in-Canada components of your program of study. If you have not yet been approved for a study permit, please consider your comfort level with starting your studies before receiving a final decision on your application.

You should also factor SFU's deadlines for admission deferral, course withdrawal, and refunds into your decision. Please refer to the following links for deadline information:

The deadlines above will apply if you choose to postpone your studies or withdraw from your online courses due to a delay in processing or refusal of your study permit application.

For students who started their programs in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, IRCC implemented a two-stage study permit approval process, allowing students who were unable to submit certain required documents or complete certain necessary steps to finalize their applications to receive approval-in-principle and begin their studies online with more confidence, provided they applied for a study permit by September 15, 2020 (for Fall 2020 students) or by December 15, 2020 (for Spring 2021 students). For detailed information about this two-stage process, visit the IRCC website.

Note that an approval-in-principle from IRCC is not a guarantee that your study permit application will receive full approval. The final decision regarding your eligibility for a study permit and admissibility to Canada will be made by the immigration officer processing your application, after all the necessary documents have been submitted for your application.

Post-graduation work permit eligibility for students who begin studies online

On February 12, 2021, the Canadian government announced expanded flexibility on post-graduation work permit eligibility for students studying remotely from outside Canada.

According to the IRCC website:

  • students may complete their entire program from abroad and still maintain eligibility for a post-graduation work permit
  • remote studies completed outside Canada through December 31, 2021 will count toward the length of the post-graduation work permit

This will apply to students who:

  • have been enrolled in a program that was in progress in March 2020, or
  • have started or will start a program between Spring 2020 and Fall 2021, and
    • hold a valid study permit, or
    • have been approved for a study permit, or
    • applied for a study permit before starting your study program (provided the application is eventually approved)

For details, visit the IRCC website.

Updated February 12

I am an international student living in Canada and transferring to SFU.  My study permit is expiring soon. Can I apply to extend my study permit from within Canada?

If you are transferring to SFU from another Canadian post-secondary institution you must submit your study permit extension application before your study permit expires in order to begin your studies at SFU.  As long as you do this you are allowed to remain in Canada and continue studying until IRCC has made a decision with respect to your study permit extension application under implied status.  

If you plan to work on or off campus during your studies at SFU and you were not previously authorized to do so you must apply to change the conditions of your study permit to have the appropriate work authorization remarks added.  To review IRCC’s work eligibility requirements for study permit holders please visit the IRCC website

Note that if you are transferring to SFU from another Canadian post-secondary institution you are required to notify IRCC by completing the online designated learning institution (DLI) transfer.  For instructions on how to complete this process please visit the IRCC website.  

For instructions on how to extend your study permit or to change the conditions of your study permit please visit the ISS website.  If you have questions, you can contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist.

Updated April 22

I am an international student who attended high school in Canada and will join SFU in January. Should I apply for a new study permit?

If you are joining SFU from a Canadian high school, you are not required to apply for a new study permit, provided that your current study permit remains valid. However, if your study permit will expire soon, please ensure that you submit an application to extend your study permit within Canada before its expiry date. As long as you apply to extend your study permit before it expires, you can continue to remain in Canada and start your studies at SFU under implied status while waiting for a decision to be made on your application. 

If you plan to work on or off campus during your studies at SFU, you must apply to change the conditions of your study permit with the proper work authorization imposed. You can’t start working until your study permit has been issued with the appropriate work authorization and you must meet other eligibility requirements.

Updated November 10

Where can I find information on processing times for immigration applications (e.g. study permit, temporary resident visa, work permit)?

You can find information about estimated processing times on the IRCC website. However, due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, the posted processing times are no longer accurate. If there is a delay in submitting the necessary documents to finalize your application, there may be an increase in the processing time.

Updated July 28

I need to give biometrics as part of my study permit extension application but have not been able to do so. What should I do?

On July 15, 2020, IRCC announced a temporary public policy exempting temporary residence applicants in Canada from the requirement to give biometrics. This means that if you are in Canada applying for a study permit extension or a work permit, you do not need to give biometrics in order for your application to be processed. This applies to new applications as well as applications that are already in progress. For details on the exemption, visit the IRCC website.

Please note that although Service Canada is gradually reactivating biometrics collection services in Service Canada offices, the biometrics exemption for temporary residence applicants in Canada remains in effect at this time.

Under normal circumstances you are required to provide biometrics if you have not done so for an application to come to Canada in the past 10 years (unless exempted). Please note that this is still required if you are applying outside Canada. For more information visit the IRCC website. You can also use IRCC's Check Status Tool to see if you already have valid biometrics on file. 

Please ensure that you submit an application to extend your study permit before your current study permit expires. If you do this you will be able to remain in Canada and continue studying under implied status until IRCC has made a decision with respect to your application, even if your study permit expires while you await processing.

Updated December 4

Will my ability to enter or return to Canada be impacted by the current travel restrictions?

To manage the outbreak of COVID-19, Canada has implemented travel restrictions to stop non-essential travel to Canada by most foreign nationals, with a few exemptions.  For more information about the travel restrictions and exemptions, please visit IRCC’s website

You may also use the Government of Canada's online assessment tool to help you determine whether you are eligible to enter Canada at this time.

Travel exemptions for international students

As an international student, you must meet the following requirements to travel to Canada:

  1. Must be attending a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) with an approved COVID-19 readiness plan (e.g. SFU), AND
  2. One of the following must apply to you:
    • you hold a valid study permit, or
    • you have a valid letter of introduction from IRCC showing that your study permit application was approved (note: an approval-in-principle is not sufficient for travel)

International students who meet the above requirements will normally be considered to be travelling for a non-optional/non-discretionary purpose. As per the IRCC website, if your program has been cancelled or suspended, or if you are entering Canada for any reason other than studies, your travel won't be considered non-discretionary and you may not be allowed to enter.

A Border Services Officer will make the final decision on whether you are eligible to enter Canada. 

Please do not make plans to travel to Canada until you are sure you meet all requirements for entry, including final approval of your study permit application or a valid study permit, and a valid temporary resident visa or eTA if required.

Please see "What documents should I carry when I travel to Canada?" for guidance on how to demonstrate eligibility to enter Canada.

Depending on how the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, the current travel restrictions may be extended and/or changed. Due to the fluidity of the pandemic, we strongly recommend that you closely monitor these in preparation for travel to Canada.

* Exception: immediate and extended family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents may enter Canada for an optional or discretionary purpose, provided they will stay in Canada for at least 15 days. Visit the IRCC website for details.

Updated February 24

What should I expect when I first arrive in Canada given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic?

At the port of entry

Upon arrival at the port of entry (e.g. airport or land border crossing) to Canada, you will go through a health screening check. As of February 22, this check will include a COVID-19 test. A border services officer will also assess your eligibility to enter Canada under the current travel restrictions and make a final decision on whether to allow entry.

If you are allowed to enter Canada you may then proceed to your place of quarantine (or to your hotel, for air travellers subject to the mandatory three-day hotel stopover).

You will also be given instructions on taking another COVID-19 test toward the end of your 14-day quarantine period. More information on this requirement is expected soon.

For more information about what to expect at the Canadian port of entry (airport or land border crossing), please visit the CBSA website. You can also find some general arrival information on our International Student Advising and Programs website.

Submitting information via ArriveCAN after arrival 

After arriving in Canada, you must:

  • report your arrival at your place of quarantine or isolation within 48 hours of entering Canada using ArriveCAN or by calling 1-833-641-0343, and 
  • complete and submit a daily COVID-19 symptom self-assessment during your quarantine period using one of the above methods (ArriveCAN or phone)
  • Answer any calls from 1-855-906-5585 and answer all questions truthfullly -- government officials may call you from this number to ensure you are complying with your mandatory quarantine
    • You may also receive a visit from a designated screening officer to confirm your compliance

Air travellers: mandatory hotel stay

For information about what to expect during your mandatory three-night hotel stay, including check-out procedures (which will vary depending on your test result), visit the Government of Canada website on this topic.

If you test negative during your three-night hotel stay, you may proceed to your place of quarantine for the remainder of the 14-day period.

If you test positive, you will be required to isolate in either a federal designated quarantine facility or another suitable location for the remainder of the 14-day period. You will be given instructions on this in the event of a positive test result.

Completing your post-arrival COVID-19 test and ending your quarantine

Near the end of your 14-day quarantine period you must undergo another COVID-19 test, following the instructions you were given at the port of entry. You will be responsible for covering any associated costs for this test.

You must continue to quarantine until you get a negative test result. If you test positive, you will need to isolate for an additional 14 days starting from when the test was taken and will need to contact your local public health authority for guidance. 

For more information, see the Government of Canada website on testing to end your quarantine.

SFU Self-Isolation Guide

For detailed information about self-isolation, including information on available supports for SFU students who need to self-isolate, please review our Travelling to Canada: Self-Isolation Guide.

Updated February 22

What documents should I carry when I travel to Canada?

General information can be found on the IRCC website. You should always carry your SFU Letter of Acceptance and/or Confirmation of Enrollment letter for entry to Canada.

All international students must carry supporting documents to demonstrate that they meet the travel exemptions and their purpose of travel is non-optional. These documents include but are not limited to:

  • a valid study permit, or a Letter of Introduction confirming that your study permit has been approved by IRCC (an Approval-in-Principle/stage 1 approval of your study permit is not sufficient for travel) 
  • new students: a valid Letter of Acceptance (offer letter) from SFU 
  • current/returning student: a current confirmation of enrollment letter from SFU
  • proof of funds available to support you in Canada
  • a credible quarantine plan for a 14-day period upon your arrival in Canada

Depending on your country of citizenship, you may require a valid temporary resident visa (TRV) or electronic travel authorization (eTA) in addition to your study permit in order to travel to Canada. For more information, please visit the IRCC website

To assess if your purpose of travel is non-discretionary, border services officers will consider factors such as the reasons for your travel and your ability to complete a 14-day quarantine period, in addition to those listed above. The assessment will depend on your individual circumstances, and thus the above list of documents is not exhaustive.

You may contact the Border Information Service for more information about travel restrictions and exemptions for international students. 

Be prepared to demonstrate that you are exempt from the travel restrictions and are travelling for an essential purpose both at the airport in your departure country and when entering Canada.

For more information about what to expect at the Canadian port of entry (airport or land border crossing), please visit the CBSA website. You can also find some general arrival information on our International Student Advising and Programs website.

* Exception: immediate and extended family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents may enter Canada for an optional or discretionary purpose, provided they will stay in Canada for at least 15 days. Visit the IRCC website for details.

Updated November 10

What about transportation services from the airport?

When arriving in Vancouver, remember that you must go directly to your self-isolation location for 14 days. The self-isolation report that you submit upon arrival to Canada must include information on how you will reach your accommodation. 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. Visit SFU’s Leaving the Airport page for more information about your transportation options.

If you will be entering Canada by air, please see the information from the Government of Canada on getting to your government-authorized hotel.

Note that travelers displaying symptoms of COVID-19 after arriving in Canada are not permitted to use public transportation (bus, train, taxi, or ride-sharing service) to travel to their place of isolation. If you have symptoms that may be due to COVID-19, you are only allowed to take private transportation (e.g. a personal vehicle) to get to your place of isolation. More information can be found on the Vancouver International Airport website.

Updated February 22

How can I prove that my SFU courses will be offered in person? Can SFU give me a letter?

Undergraduate students

If you are an international undergraduate student enrolled in a course with in-person components in the Fall 2020 term (September – December) and intend to travel to Canada, you may request an official letter from the Office of the Registrar.

To request a letter, please email reginfo@sfu.ca from your @sfu email address and include the following information:

  1. Your full legal name
  2. SFU student number
  3. Attach a copy of your valid study permit, or your letter of approval from IRCC issued on or before March 18, 2020. If you are legally residing in the United States, please include a copy of your valid study permit or letter of approval. 

Do not travel to Canada if you do not meet the travel exemptions. Receipt of a confirmation of enrollment letter from SFU does not guarantee your ability to travel. It is your responsibility to satisfy all entry requirements.  

If you have questions about travelling to Canada or require support with your self-isolation planning, please visit our COVID-19 FAQs for international students or contact ISS.

Graduate students

If you are an international graduate student enrolled in a face to face course in the Fall 2020 term (September – December) Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies have emailed you a custom letter. If you have not received one, please contact gradstdy@sfu.ca with your student number and what face to face course you are enrolled in.

Do not travel to Canada if you do not meet the travel exemptions. Receipt of a confirmation of enrollment letter from SFU does not guarantee your ability to travel. It is your responsibility to satisfy all entry requirements.  

If you have questions about travelling to Canada or require support with your self-isolation planning, please visit our COVID-19 FAQs for international students or contact ISS.

Updated August 18

Post-secondary/transfer students

As a post-secondary transfer student, how will SFU evaluate my application for admission?

We have already evaluated many transfer applicants on interim grades and are working with our post-secondary partners to ensure we receive your final transcripts in April. The disruption to your classes will not impact your application to SFU.

Normally, students present graded courses for their admission evaluation to SFU. For Spring 2020, if a transfer institution provided the option of Pass (or equivalent) grades, at least 50% of courses in the Spring 2020 term must present with a letter grade (ie, A/B/C/D/F).

Exceptions may apply on a case-by-case basis should students have extenuating circumstances where this was not possible. Please contact us for additional information.

P grade questions: admission average; transfer credit; pre-requisites; FAL/ FAN; WQB

Will I receive transfer credit with a P grade?

Yes.

Will the P grade satisfy a minimum grade requirement for a pre-requisite course?

Yes.

Will the P grade satisfy the FAL/ FAN X99 requirement of a grade of "C- or higher”?

Yes.

Will the P grade count towards my W, Q, B requirements?

Yes.

How is a P grade calculated in my admission average?

P grades are not included in the calculation of your admission average.

Residence and housing

What are the fees for Residence and when are they due?

For information on the fees to live in residences at SFU, please visit www.sfu.ca/students/residences/fees.html

For information on deadlines, confirmation deposits, cancellation fees, etc., please visit www.sfu.ca/students/residences/community/important-dates.html

Is SFU Residence open during COVID-19 and if so, how can I apply to live in Residence?

Absolutely. SFU Residence has remained open during COVID-19 and will continue to remain open. We have taken every necessary measure to ensure that residences remain a safe and friendly community for all of our student residents from both SFU and FIC.

We are currently accepting offers and sending out offer letters for both the Summer and Fall 2021 term. Feel free to email our team at housing@sfu.ca or visit www.sfu.ca/students/residences/apply.html

I applied to Residence and Housing for the Summer / Fall 2021 term. When are offers to live in residence being sent out? When can I expect to hear?

Yes, offers are being sent for both the Summer and Fall 2021 terms. Students should receive offers or hear about the status of either their summer or fall applications starting sometime in the middle of February.

Financial planning information for parents and guardians

Due to the challenges of COVID-19 and its impact on the economy, we recognize financially supporting your child’s post-secondary education may be a challenge. Below find funding opportunities to support a student’s education at SFU.

Funding opportunities for new students

Entrance Awards and Bursaries - SFU offers several entrance bursaries and awards to assist students for whom the cost of attending university would be a serious impediment. Deadline to apply – April 30, 2021 for students entering for Fall 2021.

Funding opportunities for new and current students

Application is on a term by term basis.

  • Scholarships - recognize outstanding academic achievement
  • Awards - generally acknowledge outstanding achievements or contributions to the community
  • Bursaries - are awarded on the basis of a demonstrated financial need
  • Work-Study - provides work opportunities for continuing students which are paid, part-time, and on-campus
  • Government Student Loans and Grants – Full-time or part-time students, BC and non-BC residents enrolled in eligible programs can apply to a variety of government assistance, student loans and grants. International students are not eligible for Canadian government student loans and grants. US Citizens may be eligible for US government student loans
  • Former Youth in Care –Tuition Waiver Programs – Students who are living – or have lived – as a youth in care in BC, may qualify for financial support to cover some of the costs of their education

Learn more about other programs administered outside of SFU.

MyFinances 101

Getting a degree is a significant investment. MyFinances101 is a free, online financial literacy course available for to help students understand their personal finances. Consisting of 7 modules, filled with insightful resources and helpful tools, MyFinances101 will provide students with a good level of foundational knowledge for your financial future. Access the course in mid-June, once you get your SFU Computing ID and password!

Questions? Reach out to the Financial Aid and Awards team to learn about the application process or upcoming deadlines, or answer any of your questions.