University of Calgary

Frequently Asked Questions...by U of C Faculty and Staff

We assist and advise University of Calgary (U of C) faculty members and staff who have international students in their classes, or who work with them.   Contact us for more information.

  1. How can international students get a Social Insurance Number (SIN)? 
  2. Our faculty members and staff have run into intercultural difficulties working with international students.  Do you have any advice?
  3. A Graduate student, who is also a Teaching Assistant, asks about resources to enhance her/his English for teaching. What resources are available on campus?

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1. How can international students get a Social Insurance Number (SIN)? 

  • In Canada, the SIN is not regulated by Immigration Canada. It is administered by Service Canada. The SIN number does not allow students to work in Canada, but it allows them to receive payment. To be eligible to work in Canada, students need to be qualified under Immigration Canada regulations. For detailed information: Applying for a Work permit and Social Insurance Number.
  • International students will not be given a SIN unless they have a work permit or a job offer on campus. The current regulations from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) do not require scholarship receivers to have a SIN. When international students are about to file their tax return, if they do not have a SIN, they can apply for an Individual Tax Number (ITN) of a SIN.
  • To apply for a SIN: A student must have either a contract of employment for on-campus work or a work permit (off campus work permit, co-op work permit, post-graduation work permit). It is the student's responsibility to make sure they are eligible to work in Canada.  
  • Students need to go to a Service Canada office to obtain a SIN. The nearest Service Canada Centre office is located at 1816 Crowchild Trail N.W. (across from the McMahon Stadium). There is also an office at 220-4 Avenue S.E. (in the Harry Hayes Building downtown). Application instructions and further details are available online or call 1-800-206-7218. Students need to take their passport, Study Permit and Work Permit (if working off-campus) or a contract of employment.

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2. Our faculty members and staff have run into intercultural difficulties working with international students.  Do you have any advice?

  • Functioning in a diverse, multicultural study and work environment has its challenges. Verbal and non-verbal communication norms vary across cultures; for instance, interrupting others may be acceptable in one culture and frowned upon in another, and there are differing norms for eye contact, personal space and punctuality, and so on.
  • Effective strategies for dealing with communication differences include checking your assumptions, asking questions to clarify comments or expectations, and keeping an open mind.

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3.  A Graduate student, who is also a Teaching Assistant, asks about resources to enhance her/his English for teaching.  What resources are available on campus?

  • Teaching in Canadian Classrooms is a free, 5-day workshop offered by the Teaching and Learning Centre for TAs and faculty who are English as an Additional Language (EAL) speakers. The workshop combines theoretical applications, cultural awareness, and strategies for teaching effectiveness.
  • Continuing Education offers a wide range of courses including part-time ESL, Educational Assistant, Writing Skills, Workplace Communication, and more.

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