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.
- Can international students, specifically non-degree open study students, work on campus?
- How can international students get a Social Insurance Number (SIN)?
- Is a Graduate student legally allowed to start working in a laboratory before her/his program starts?
- Our faculty members and staff have run into intercultural difficulties working with
international students. Do you have any advice?
- 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?
1. Can international students, specifically non-degree open study students, work on campus?
- International students are allowed to work on campus without a work permit if they have a valid Study Permit and are registered as a full-time student in a program provided by the U of C. This can be any kind of program including Open Studies, ESL or other English programs.
For detailed information: Work opportunities for international students
2. 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 Revenue Agency Canada (RAC) 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 job offer on-campus 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.
If you are an employer writing a job offer for an international student so that s/he can apply for a SIN, follow the instructions from Service Canada
regarding the Contract of Employment and the mandatoryfields required in the job offer letter.
3. Is a Graduate student legally allowed to start working in a laboratory before her/his program starts?
- An international student is allowed to work on campus without a work permit only when s/he is currently registered as a full-time student and in possession of a valid Study Permit. If a student comes to the U of C before her/his study program has started, technically the student is not a full-time student yet, and s/he is not allowed to do any work (paid or unpaid) in Canada until the program starts.
- If you want to invite a student to work in your Lab before the program start date, you must prepare a letter for the student. The letter must state clearly what kind of job you want the student to perform, the time period of the job,and how much you will pay the student. The student takes the letter to the nearest Canadian Embassy responsible for the visa application for that student's country of residence. Have the student ask the Canadian embassy what kind of permit s/he should apply for during this working period before the study program starts. The local Canadian embassy or consulate makes the final decision.
4. 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.
5. 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.