Invitations for Foreign Fellows & Visiting Faculty

All foreign Visiting Faculty, Postdoctoral Fellows and Clinical Fellows coming to UBC are required by Immigration, Refugees &  Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to obtain either a Work Permit or a Visitor Record. Individuals performing work (refer to IRCC for a definition of work), whether paid or unpaid, will be issued a work permit.


General Information

Employers hiring foreign nationals who may obtain a work permit without an LMIA are required to submit information about their business or organization (Offer of Employment) and pay a $230 Employer Compliance Fee to IRCC. 

Employers will need to submit information and pay a $230 compliance fee via the IRCC Employer Portal (Faculty Relations has set up access to the Employer Portal for each Dean’s Office. Department administrators should contact their Dean’s Office to be set up as a secondary user on the portal ).  

This process fall under IRCC’s International Mobility Program.

In order to bring a foreign national to UBC departments must do the following  prior to the foreign national applying for entry into Canada:

1. Provide Letter of Offer to Foreign National:   This must be signed by the Academic Head of Unit Head/Director.  Template letters are found on our offer letter page. For individuals who are unpaid this should simply confirm the reason for their visit and that they will not receive any remuneration or benefits.  For unpaid visitors who will be in Canada less than 6 months we recommend using the Visitor Appointment Letter.

2. Complete Offer of Employment Details to IRCC This information is supplied via the Employer Portal (Note, your Dean’s Office must first set up your access to the portal). Employers are required to submit this information for all foreign nationals who require a work permit, but who are exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).  It is not required for those who do not need to obtain a work permit. Templates are found below.  After you submit an offer of employment you will receive an Employment Offer ID number, which must be provided to the foreign national, who will include this number in their application. Refer to the Faculty Relations Offer of Employment-How to Complete for information on the process.  IRCC also provides an Employer Portal User Guide.

Be sure to keep a copy of the Offer of Employment Details. There is a print icon within the portal that allows you print out completed sections.

3. Pay the Compliance Fee: The department must pay a $230 compliance fee for all foreign nationals requiring work permits that are LMIA exempt.  This is paid online via IRCC’s Employer Portal as you enter the Offer of Employment details.  Ensure you print a copy of the confirmation of payment of the Compliance Fee for your records and to provide to the foreign national.

Further information on hiring a foreign national through the International Mobility Program are found on the IRCC website.

The foreign national will need to provide proof to IRCC that UBC has submitted the Offer of Employment information and paid the compliance fee.  Provide proof to the foreign nation so they can provide to IRCC as they apply for their work permit.  In addition the  Details on the immigration process are found on the following specific pages: Visiting Faculty, Postdoctoral Fellows, Clinical Fellows.

Visiting Faculty (Excluding Visiting Scholars)

IRCC recognizes that opportunities exist for academic exchanges and thus have allowed individuals holding academic appointments abroad to be issued a work permit without obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

Criteria:
The individual must retain their position abroad. Note that IRCC may request confirmation from the home institution that the individual has a position to which they will return.

  • Appointments may be salaried or unsalaried.
  • The title of the visitor appointment at UBC corresponds to their title at their home institution.
  • Where a work permit is required the maximum length of a work permit is 2 years. IRCC will not normally renew work permits beyond the 2 year limit.
  • Refer to Offer of Employment-How to Complete for details on information UBC needs to provide.

Unpaid visiting faculty may not require a work permit, however IRCC may deem that one is required and thus units will need to submit Offer of Employment details and pay the compliance fee. IRCC will make their decision based on a number of factors including length of stay and activities while in Canada.  IRCC has indicated that self-funded researchers (i.e. not being paid by UBC)  who will be in Canada less than 6 months and will not be entering the Canadian Labour Market will not require a work permit and can enter under the Business Visitor category.  The Offer of Employment and Compliance Fee therefore should not apply in these cases. The visiting academic should be provided with a letter of invitation (use the Visitor-unpaid template on the Offer Letter Templates page), which they will need to present to the immigration officials when requesting entry into Canada.

 

Visiting Scholars

Individuals who are visiting students fall under the Visiting International Research Student (VIRS) category handled by UBC Student Services.

Self-funded researchers who are not students and do not hold an academic rank at another institution may hold a Visiting Scholar appointment at UBC.  The researcher should be provided with a letter of invitation (use the Visitor-unpaid template on the Offer Letter Templates page), which they will need to present to the immigration officials when requesting entry into Canada.  IRCC has indicated that self-funded researchers (i.e. not being paid by UBC)  who will be in Canada less than 6 months and will not be entering the Canadian Labour Market will not require a work permit and can enter under the Business Visitor category.  The Offer of Employment Form and the Compliance Fee therefore should not apply in these cases.

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Postdoctoral Fellows

IRCC  allows individuals holding a PhD (or near completion of the PhD) to be appointed to time-limited positions for postdoctoral teaching and research. UBC Policy allows individuals to be appointed for up to 3 years within 5 years of obtaining a PhD or 10 years of obtaining a DDS or MD. Note that with the Dean’s approval  a postdoc appointment could be extended for a further 2 years.

Criteria:

  • Individual should have received their PhD by the time an application for a work permit is made. IRCC may request proof of the PhD or expectation that it will be awarded shortly.  IRCC may  allow some flexibility if the individual has not yet completed their thesis defense but has completed all requirements for a PhD.
  • Appointments may be salaried or unsalaried.
  • Refer to Offer of Employment-How to Complete for details on information UBC needs to provide.

Template offer letters for postdoctoral fellows are found on our Offer Letters page.

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Clinical Fellows

Foreign medical fellows are holders of a medical degree equivalent to that of a Canadian Medical Doctorate and recognized medical specialists who have completed residency training and accept to continue specializing in some highly specific field of study to advance clinical or medical research. Fellowships typically have a duration of one to two years.

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Medical Coverage & Work Permits

It is important to note that the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) will only extend coverage to individuals with a work permit. Individuals who do not receive a work permit are not eligible for MSP coverage and must arrange for their own coverage.

New residents arriving from outside Canada should arrange for private coverage during the waiting period for MSP. Visiting Faculty, Postdoctoral Fellows and Clinical Fellows from outside Canada and their dependent(s) may purchase private coverage through the David Cummings Insurance Services (DCIS) Global Campus Plan for UBC Faculty and Staff.

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Renewal Letters

Appointments of Visiting Faculty, Postdoctoral Fellows and Clinical Fellows may be renewed within the allowable limits. If you are considering issuing a renewal letter for an individual who does not fit the applicable criteria please contact Faculty Relations. For individuals who fall within the applicable criteria use the templates provided above.

Further information on the the process to renew a work permit (or visitor visa) is found on our Renewal page.

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FAQs – General

How far in advance do I need to provide the letter of offer to the foreign national?

  • Normally the letter should be sent at least 4 months in advance of the expected start date. This should allow the Visitor or Postdoc enough time to request the necessary permit/visa from the IRCC  office at their nearest Canadian embassy, and for IRCC to process the request.  Note that processing times vary depending on the IRCC office and that some offices take a considerable time to process. Please refer to IRCC’s website for processing times.

I’m unsure of what rank the individual should hold at UBC?

Do I have to pay the Employer Compliance Fee?

  • As per IRCC employers must pay the Employer Compliance Fee for every foreign national who is required to obtain a work permit but is exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment.

What if the department is unsure that the individual will come to UBC or not?  Is the Employer Compliance fee still required?

  • Yes, the employer (department) must still pay the fee.  If the postdoc or visiting faculty member does not come to UBC then IRCC will refund the fee. Please refer to the IRCC website for details.

What documentation do I need to provide to the foreign national?

  • For individuals who will require a work permit the department needs to provide, a letter of invitation/offer, the ID number assigned via the IRCC portal after you have submitted the Offer of Employment information, and proof of payment of the compliance fee.
  • Where it is clear that a work permit is NOT required the department need only provide the letter of invitation to the visitor.   If IRCC deems that a work permit will be required, then the department will also need to pay the compliance fee and complete the Offer of Employment Form, providing copies to the visitor.

I paid the employer compliance fee, but the postdoc/visitor is no longer coming to UBC. Can I get a refund?

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FAQs – Visitor

I’d like to hire a Visiting Scholar. Can I do this?

  • If the individual is a student please refer to the Go Global/Student Services website on information on how to bring a foreign visiting research student to UBC.  If the individual is a researcher, but does not have an academic appointment at another university they may be invited as a self-funded researcher and can hold a Visiting Scholar appointment at UBC.  Note that because these individuals do not fall under the LMIA exemption for Visiting Professors the only way for them to enter Canada is via IRCC’s Business Visitor category which means no work permit will be issued.

A foreign visiting faculty member who has already been at UBC for 2 years would like to stay another year. Will this be possible?

  • This will likely not be possible. IRCC will not normally renew a foreign visitor’s work permit if they have already held an appointment for 2 years. In special circumstances IRCC may choose to extend a work permit beyond the 2 year limit. This would be dealt with directly by IRCC on a case by case basis.

The visitor I am inviting will only be at UBC for one month. Should I still issue a letter of invitation/offer? Should I still create an appointment form for this person?

  • In all cases a letter of invitation or offer from the UBC department must be supplied to the visitor so that they can present this to Canadian immigration officials. If the individual will be paid while at UBC and meets the IRCC criteria as a Visiting Professor a letter of offer is created, and the department will need to pay the Compliance Fee and proved Offer of Employment details.  If the individual is unpaid a letter of invitation should be created clearly stating the short term nature (6 mos or less) of the visit and that the individual will not receive any remuneration.  If the individual will be paid they must have a work permit and the department must create an appointment form to process the appointment and salary. If the appointment is without salary IRCC may not require that a work permit be issued.  In terms of UBC if the appointment is less than 1 month and is without remuneration an appointment form does not have to be created.

Our visitor has already arrived and only has a visitor visa. Do they still need a work permit?

  • If no remuneration will be provided to the visitor, then no no work permit is required. The visitor visa/record will be sufficient. Remember to send a photocopy of the visitor visa to Faculty Relations along with the appointment form.

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FAQs – Postdoctoral Fellows

The individual we want to hire has not yet received his/her PhD. Can he/she be hired as a Postdoctoral Fellow?

  • A job offer as a Postdoc can be made contingent upon the individual being awarded the PhD degree. Normally IRCC will require proof of the postdoc’s PhD, which means the degree should be awarded by the time they apply for a work permit.  However, IRCC does allow some flexibility if the individual has not yet completed their thesis defense but has completed all requirements for a PhD. Please contact Faculty Relations to discuss additional wording that should be added to the Letter of Offer for such cases.

If the individual the unit wants to hire is beyond 5 years of being awarded the PhD can he/she be hired as a Postdoctoral Fellow?

  • No this individual may not be hired, unless there are extenuating circumstance such as time off due to the birth of a child or a change in career path. This is as per UBC policy 61. Prior to extending the offer to the Postdoctoral Fellow in this circumstance Faculty Relations must be contacted. Whether an exemption is to be made or not will be determined by Faculty Relations.

The postdoc we want to hire received their PhD over 5 years ago and there are no extenuating circumstances. What do we do?

  • Under UBC Policy we are unable to hire this individual as a Postdoc. However, they could be hired as a Research Associate as long as all the advertising and immigration requirements are met.

We want to renew a postdoc who has already held a 3 year postdoc appointment. Can we do this?

  • In accordance the term of a postdoc appointment is limited to 3 years, but may be extended for a further 2 years with the approval of the Dean.  Approval must be obtained prior extending the offer.

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