Immigration Process for Foreign Academics

Foreign academics are required to obtain a temporary work permit in order to be employed and perform work for UBC. The steps outlined below provide details on obtaining a temporary work permit and Social Insurance Number (SIN), and also provides information on what is expected after the foreign academic arrives at UBC. The steps are broken down into the following sections:

Before Arrival

1. Once the recruitment process for a foreign academic has been completed, their Department or School will submit the necessary paperwork to Faculty Relations (UBCV) or Human Resources (UBCO) to start the immigration process. Please refer to the immigration documents list for the listing of paperwork that the academic unit must submit.

New faculty members should take the time to review and understand the immigration process detailed below. We also strongly encourage new appointees to review the information found on our Things to Know Before You Arrive page and on the Housing & Relocation Services website.

2. Faculty Relations/HR normally submits an application for a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) to Service Canada (SC), however in certain cases (see below) Faculty Relations/HR may be able to apply for an exemption to the LMIA requirement as part of the International Mobility Program. Note that SC and IRCC processing times vary and departments are encouraged to submit the necessary documents to Faculty Relations/HR as early as possible in order to avoid delays in the faculty member’s start date.

Exemptions to the LMIA requirement are as follows:

A. NAFTA: Faculty members who are citizens of the United States or Mexico can apply for a work permit under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  More information on the issuance of work permits under the NAFTA exemption is found on the NAFTA information page.

B. Award Recipients: Where the award is specifically in the name of the incoming faculty member an LMIA may not be required. The necessary documentation from the Department along with the confirmation of the award in the name of the faculty member must be forwarded to Faculty Relations/HR who will determine if  an LMIA exemption under the International Mobility Program is permissible. Canada Research Chairs (CRC) and Leading Edge Endowment Chairs (LEEF) are covered under this.   More information on Canada Research Chairs at UBC is found on the VP Academic & Provost website. General information on CRCs can be found on the Canada Research Chair website.  General information on LEEF Chairs is found on the LEEF Website.  Nominees for an award who are coming to UBC prior to obtaining confirmation of the award must undergo the Labour Market Impact Assessment process.

Note that in the case of LMIA exemptions, the employer must pay a compliance fee of $230 and submit Offer of Employment details to IRCC. Departments must work with Faculty Relations on this process. The employer must then provide the incoming academic with details regarding the LMIA-Exemption application. See the IRCC website for more information on this LMIA-Exemption compliance process.

3. If the LMIA application is successful Faculty Relations/HR will receive a positive LMIA from Service Canada. Faculty Relations will email the LMIA (or necessary exemption documents) to the new faculty member as soon as it is received. It is at this point that the new faculty member can confirm arrangements to travel and move their belongings to Canada.

NOTE: Faculty members are advised not to confirm travel or moving arrangements to enter Canada until they have received the necessary documentation from Faculty Relations/HR and have obtained approval for the issuance of a temporary work permit.

4. As soon as the foreign academic has received the LMIA or LMIA exemption documents, they must apply to Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for a temporary work permit. Refer to IRCC’s website for details on where and how to apply, and whether a medical exam may be required. The application form and important information regarding applying for a temporary work permit can be found on the work permit link above. A temporary work permit currently costs $155 CDN and depending on the immigration office, it may take several days or several weeks to process the application. Faculty members are advised to review the website of their local Canadian Immigration Office to ascertain processing times and required documentation.

When the temporary work permit is approved, the Canadian Immigration Office will issue a letter approving the issuance of a work permit. The work permit will actually be issued at the border. Travel and moving arrangements can now be finalized. For more information on working in Canada, please refer to Working Temporarily in Canada.

In addition to a work permit, the IRCC may also require the following items:

Temporary Resident Visa

In addition to the temporary work permit, citizens of some countries & territories will also require a temporary resident visa (TRV). If a TRV is required, it is not necessary to make a separate application; the immigration officer will issue the TRV at the same time as the approval for a work permit. A list of countries and territories whose citizens need a TRV can be found on the IRCC website.  If you are planning to travel outside of Canada while at UBC, please ensure that you notify IRCC at the time of application to ensure that, if eligible, a multiple entry visa is obtained.

Electronic Travel Authorization: IRCC requires visa-exempt nationals who arrive or transit through Canada by air to have an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) in addition to acceptable travel documents and identification. A visa-exempt national is a foreign national who does not normally need a visa to enter Canada. Please refer to the IRCC website for a list of countries whose citizens will be required to apply for an eTA. Exceptions include citizens of the United States and foreign nationals with a valid visa.

This entry requirement allows IRCC to screen travellers before they arrive. In most cases,  an eTA will be approved within minutes of applying. It costs $7 CAD per person to get an eTA, and once approved, an eTA is valid for five years or upon passport expiry, whichever comes first. Application is made online on the IRCC website prior to entry into Canada.

Biometric Data Requirements

IRCC also requires citizens of certain countries to supply biometric data in order to enter Canada. Please refer to the IRCC website  for a list of countries whose citizens will be required to provide this data. Note that there is a $85 CAD per person fee associated with this. Families applying together for a visitor visa will pay a maximum biometric fee of up to $170 CAD.


5. At the Canadian port of entry, the immigration officer issues the work permit, which allows the new faculty member to work at UBC on a temporary basis. Upon entry into Canada the new faculty member should have the following documents ready for the immigration official to assist the immigration officer in issuing a temporary work permit:

  • The letter of approval from the Canadian Immigration Office (if applicable)
  • A copy of the Labour Market Impact Assessment (Note: CRC’s must provide a copy of the CRC confirmation letter). In cases where an LMIA exemption is applicable, a copy of the IRCC Offer ID number is required instead of the LMIA
  • The offer letter from the academic unit
  • Passports
  • Temporary resident visa(s) (if applicable)
  • Travel documents (i.e. airline tickets)
  • Marriage certificate or Statutory Declaration of Common Law Union (for accompanying spouse/partner)
  • Children’s birth certificates (if applicable)

Refer also to the documentation checklist found on work permit application page of  the IRCC website.

The duration of temporary work permit will vary and is up to the discretion of immigration officer, who will consider such factors as the duration of the Labour Market Impact Assessment, passport expiry date and dates of the job offer.

Spouses and accompanying children: If applicable, a spousal work permit and/or visitor records and/or study permits for accompanying dependent children will be issued at the same time.  It is important for accompanying family to have the necessary documentation from IRCC as this has an impact on benefits coverage.

The issuance date of the work permit is the date upon which UBC may lawfully employ a foreign academic. If the effective date of a foreign academic’s appointment at UBC is July 1st, but the work permit is not issued until August 15th the start date of the position will be August 15th.

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After Arrival

6. After arrival, the new faculty member must apply in person for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) at their local Service Canada Office. Service Canada will issue a receipt for the SIN card application which will have the Social Insurance Number listed. The faculty member must provide a copy of this and the temporary work permit to Faculty Relations (UBCV) or Human Resources (UBCO). Please note that SINs are valid for the duration of the temporary work permit.

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Renewal of Temporary Work Permit

Please see our Work Permit Renewal Page for information.

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Permanent Residency

7. It is expected that faculty members with tenure or tenure-track appointments will obtain permanent resident status in Canada.  It is important to start this process  well in advance of the expiry of the initial work permit. See the Permanent Resident Visa Information page for further information on obtaining permanent residency.

8. After obtaining a Permanent Resident Visa, an application for a permanent SIN must be submitted to Service Canada. Upon receipt of the permanent SIN card please forward a copy to Faculty Relations.

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Questions About the Immigration Process for Foreign Academics?

If you have any questions about the above process, please contact Faculty Relations (UBCV) at or Human Resources (UBCO) at

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