Foreign Visiting Professors, Scientists & Scholars

Foreign visitors are required to obtain the necessary visas or permits in order to visit or be paid for UBC. The steps outlined below provide details on obtaining temporary permits and a Social Insurance Number (SIN), if necessary. Normally visiting appointments are held for a maximum of 2 years and are only made when the appointee holds an ongoing appointment or has emeritus status at another university or institution to which they expect to return.


Before Arrival

1. Once the the appointment as a Visiting Faculty member has been confirmed at UBC, the Department or School will provide a letter of offer/invitation and the Offer ID Number provided to them by Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) (if applicable).  This information is required to obtain the necessary authorization to work in Canada. Visiting faculty do not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), but for those who will require a work permit the employer must pay a $230 compliance fee and provide the Offer of Employment details to IRCC.  According to IRCC  self-funded researchers coming to Canada for less than 6 months may come as a Business Visitor and will not require a work permit.

Prior to arriving in Canada foreign visitors are advised to familiarize themselves with UBC and the benefits and amenities of the campus and surrounding area. Information is found on our Things to Know Before You Arrive page and on the Housing & Relocation Services website.

2. Upon receipt of the letter of offer/invitation and Offer ID Number (if applicable), the visitor must contact the nearest Canadian Immigration Office to determine what visas and/or work permits are required. Please refer to the IRCC website for information on visiting or working as well as details on how and where to apply. If a work permit is required the application form is found on the IRCC website. Currently the cost of a work permit is $155 and $100 for a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV). Depending on the immigration office it can take several days to several weeks to process an application. Visiting academics are advised to review the website of their local Canadian Immigration Office to ascertain processing times and documentation required. Additionally they are also advised not make travel arrangements prior to receiving the necessary authorization from the Canadian immigration office.

Depending on the activities and/or salary, a visitor may require a work permit. Work permits are issued for “an activity for which wages or commission is earned, or that competes directly with activities of Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the Canadian Labour Market” (from IRCC’s Working in Canada).  Please note that a work permit of at least 6 months duration is required in order to be eligible for medical coverage under the BC Medical Services Plan.  For coverage of school fees for school aged children the work permit duration must be 1 year. Please refer to our Things to Know Before You Arrive page for further information on this and related matters.

Depending on the visitor’s country of citizenship IRCC may 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.

Citizens of the United States  do not require a TRV to enter Canada and may apply for a work permit at the Canadian Immigration Office at a port of entry or border crossing upon their entry into Canada.

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: Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) requires citizens of certain countries to supply biometric data (fingerprints and a photograph) 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 an $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.  Minors under the age of 14, the elderly over the age of 79, and diplomats travelling on official business and their family members will also be exempt.

Once an individual arrives in Canada, their biometric data will be checked to ensure that the individual who was approved to travel is in fact the same person who is entering Canada.  The use of biometrics as an identity management tool will bring Canada in line with many other countries that are now using, or preparing to use, biometrics in immigration and border management.

3. At the Canadian border or port of entry the immigration officer issues the work permit (if applicable) or visitor permit which allows the visiting academic to visit and/or work on a temporary basis at UBC.

Upon entry into Canada the visitor should have the following documents ready for the immigration officer:

  • The letter of approval from the Canadian immigration office (only issued in the case of work permits)
  • Letter of offer/invitation from the University
  • IRCC Offer ID Number (if applicable)
  • Passport(s)
  • Temporary Resident Visa (if applicable)
  • Biometric Data requirements (if applicable)
  • 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.

A work permit will normally be issued for the dates outlined in the letter of offer. However, there are other factors such as passport expiry date, which the immigration officer will take into consideration when issuing a work permit.

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.

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After Arrival

4. Visitors who will receive remuneration from UBC need to apply in person at a Service Canada office for a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Note that unpaid visitors who will not receive any remuneration from UBC are not required to apply for a SIN.Upon receipt of the SIN confirmation information, a copy of this and the temporary work permit must be supplied to Faculty Relations. Please note that SINs are valid for the duration of the temporary work permit.

Please note that you are not allowed to begin working until the effective date of your work permit; for example, if your appointment is effective July 1 but you do not arrive in Canada until August 15, your work permit is not effective until that date and your appointment start date will therefore be August 15th.

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Renewal of a Temporary Work Permit

5. Please see our Work Permit Renewal Page for more information.

If you have any questions about the immigration process, please contact Faculty Relations at fr@exchange.ubc.ca.

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