Information for Foreign Nationals

A foreign national in Canada is someone who is neither a Canadian citizen nor a permanent resident.

Find information for foreign nationals who plan to work at the University of Alberta, including obtaining immigration documents to travel to and work in Canada and applying for permanent residence.

Working during COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some restrictions now apply to foreign nationals who plan to work at the University of Alberta.

Review the Government of Canada Travel Restrictions, Exemptions and Advice before arriving in or departing Canada.

Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Extension Opportunity
Foreign Nationals with an expired or expiring PGWP will have the opportunity to apply for another open work permit valid for 18 months. Applications will be open from January 27 to July 27, 2021. Read the Government of Canada news release to learn if this applies to you.
Extend or change the conditions on your work permit

If you have a work permit that is about to expire, and you wish to extend or make changes to it, you must apply before your current permit expires for the extension/changes to be processed. You cannot extend your work permit beyond your passport’s expiry date.

More information about specific situations can be found on the IRCC Coronavirus Special Measures webpage.

Applying to change the conditions of your work permit (e.g., transferring to a new position in the university)

Follow these instructions from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to complete this form. Completing this form may allow you to begin working in your new position before your work permit application is reviewed by IRCC. 

Make sure you copy and paste the provided IRCC message that applies to your situation in the “Your enquiry” section of the form. You can find the IRCC messages in Step 2: Fill out the IRCC Web form on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.

You will need to upload the invitation letter from the university, along with the submission confirmation letter from your online work permit extension submission. 

Within 10 business days, you should receive a letter of authorization from IRCC allowing you to start work immediately

How to extend resident status

If you are already residing in Canada and your temporary resident status is about to expire, you can apply for an extension to keep your status. To extend your resident status, you must: 

  • Have the correct documents to support your extension application (scholarships/awards, job offers, Labour Market Impact Assessments, etc.)
  • Apply online, meet all the requirements, and pay the associated fees—your supervisor will need to complete a Foreign Visitor Category Assessment to obtain the correct supporting documents from the university.

If you applied before the expiry date of your current permit and your extension application is currently processing, you will have implied status and can remain in Canada until a decision is reached on your application.

Applying to restore your temporary resident status as a worker

If you applied to restore your temporary resident status as a worker with an employer-specific work permit, you may be eligible to apply for an authorization to work while you wait for your application to be processed if you:

  • held a valid work permit in the 12 months before the date you submitted your application to restore your status as a worker, and
  • will work at the same employer and occupation that’s specified in the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) or LMIA-exempt offer of employment included in your work permit application
How to request consideration for an interim work authorization
  1. Apply for an employer-specific work permit.
  2. Fill out the IRCC Web form.
    1. Copy and paste the provided IRCC message that applies to your situation in the “Your enquiry” section of the form. You can find the IRCC messages in Step 2: Fill out the IRCC Web form on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website.
    2. Make sure you fill out the sections in square brackets, including the
      • dates
      • name(s) of employer(s)
      • title of your job

If you applied on paper and don’t know your application number, include your courier tracking number. This will make sure they find your application.

Obtaining immigration documents

Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) and Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

Most people need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to travel to Canada—not both. Find out if you need a TRV or an eTA.

A TRV or eTA allows entry into Canada only and does not replace the need for a study permit or a work permit. IRCC offers information on TRV applications and on-line eTA applications. TRV processing times vary and are subject to change.

If a TRV has not reached its expiry date, it can be used to enter (or re-enter) Canada an unlimited number of times.The validity of a TRV or permit of any kind will never extend beyond the expiry date of the foreign national's passport.

eTA's are valid for either 5 years, or to the expiry date of the foreign national's passport, whichever comes first. If an eTA has not reached its expiry date, it can be used to enter (or re-enter) Canada an unlimited number of times.

Work Permits

If you are residing outside of Canada, you can apply online from your country of citizenship or your country of residence. If you are currently residing in Canada, you can apply for your work permit online from within Canada. If you are visa-exempt, you may be eligible to apply at the port of entry.

Depending on which country and what type of application you are applying for, processing times will vary. If the processing timeline has passed on the website, you can submit a webform to inquire on the status of your application. We are unable to expedite processing timelines.

Extensions, Changes and Renewals

If you are extending or changing the conditions of your work permit, ensure your department supervisor has consulted with immigration services to get the supporting documents for your work permit application (i.e. Offer of Employment number or LMIA and Invitation Letter).

Your work permit application must be submitted prior to the expiry of your current permit in order to gain implied status to legally continue working. It is recommended to apply for your extension 90 days prior to the expiry of your current work permit.

Spousal Open Work Permits

A spouse (husband, wife, same-sex partner or common-law partner) of a skilled foreign national may be eligible to apply for a Spousal Open Work Permit.

They can apply either at the same time or after the skilled foreign national applies for a work permit. For a spousal work permit to be issued, the primary foreign national must have more than six months' left on their work permit.

Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)

A Post Graduation Work Permit allows students who have graduated from eligible Canadian designated learning institutions (DLIs) to obtain an open work permit to gain valuable Canadian work experience. Students who have completed their program of study are allowed to work (under paragraph 186(w) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations [IRPR]) while they are waiting for a decision on their PGWP application, provided they meet all of the following criteria outlined on the IRCC website.



Biometrics are an entry requirement where foreign nationals provide their fingerprints and a photo when applying for a visitor visa, study or work permit (except U.S. nationals).

Applying for permanent residence

Express Entry

Express Entry is a points-based permanent residence application process. Profiles are ranked using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

Calculate your score through the CRS calculator tool and use the Come to Canada tool to determine if you are eligible and record the reference number.

Prior to submitting a profile under Express Entry, you are required to:

Once you have submitted your eligibility profile, you may receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA). ITA's are sent at unspecified times to candidates with top-ranked scores. Once you receive an ITA, you will have 90 days to apply for permanent residence. Note: failure to comply with the timelines will render your ITA invalid, and you will be required to submit a new profile.

When you receive an ITA, a personal document checklist will be provided. You must provide all the required supporting documents.

  • Police clearances
  • Medical exam by a panel physician
  • Verification of Employment for Permanent Residence from the University of Alberta
  • Employment reference letters from previous employers and your current employer(s)**
  • Travel history over the last ten years
  • Employment history over the last ten years
  • Personal history over the last ten years
  • Bank statement
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate(s), if applicable

**Employment Reference Letters must include the following information:

  • should be an official document printed on company letterhead (must include the applicant’s name, the company’s contact information [address, telephone number and email address], and the name, title and signature of the immediate supervisor or personnel officer at the company),
  • must indicate all positions held while employed at the company and must include the following details: job title, duties and responsibilities, job status (if current job), dates worked for the company, number of work hours per week and annual salary plus benefits

Complete the reference letter on your own and then request that your supervisor signs it. Reference Letter templates below can be used for your application: 

Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP)

Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) is an economic immigration program operated by the Government of Alberta alongside Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada. AINP Nominees receive an additional 600 points when applying for permanent residence.

An AINP nomination cannot be used for the federal Express Entry program. If you have created an Express Entry profile, do not indicate that you are an Alberta Provincial Nominee. As an AINP Nominee, you must submit a paper application by mail to IRCC.

Please contact the Staff Service Centre with questions regarding your permanent residence application.