Important changes to SIN process for international students


As of June 1st, eligible international students no longer need an off-campus work permit to work off campus. (See for more details.) As a result, Service Canada changed the way they issue SINs to international students. This also affects international students who want to work on-campus.

  • In the past: Service Canada issued SINs to students with either (1) a valid work permit, or (2) a valid study permit AND an on-campus job offer letter.
  • Now: On-campus job offer letters are no longer accepted. Service Canada will issue a SIN to students with a study permit ONLY if it contains the phrases “may accept employment” or “may work.” These phrases should be theoretically written on most post-secondary study permits after June 1, but in practice we are seeing many written in the old format without these phrases.

If a student’s study permit does not say “may accept employment” or “may work,” the student must follow additional steps to get a “confirmation to work” letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada. (Even though the letter is technically a confirmation to work OFF-campus, it is still required for on-campus work when the study permit does not explicitly state “may accept employment” or “may work.”) They must then present this letter with their study permit to Service Canada in person to get a SIN. Detailed instructions are here:

The processing time for the confirmation to work letter is currently approximately 2 weeks. According to CIC, students cannot request a “confirmation to work” letter until after they arrive in Canada and are issued a study permit.

We will cover this information in our International Student Welcome orientation on August 27 ( However, you may want to be proactive with your students with TA/RA appointments to mitigate delays as much as possible.

Hopefully the process will eventually be smoother as CBSA officers get more familiar with the new regulations post June 1 and issue study permits with the necessary wording. We will notify you if there are any updates. Until then, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

Best wishes,
Lisa Brunner, M.A.
Advisor, International Student Development, University of British Columbia
International House, 1783 West Mall, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z2

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