Information for Foreign Nationals

Learn about the documentation required 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.

New Law Temporarily Affecting Foreign Nationals

As of January 1, 2023, the Canadian government temporarily prohibits non-Canadians from purchasing residential homes until January 1, 2027. For exceptions that allow non-Canadians to purchase a home in certain circumstances, review the Information Sheet or visit Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act .

Information Sheet

Prohibition on the Purchase of Residential Property by Non-Canadians Act

Obtaining immigration documents

Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) + 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. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada offers information on TRV applications and eTA applications . 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 five 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 live  outside of Canada , you can apply online from your country of citizenship or your country of residence. If you currently live 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 you are from 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 about the status of your application. We are unable to expedite processing timelines.

Visit Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Foreign workers on the Government of Canada website to learn about how COVID-19 has changed how you’ll apply for a work permit.

Extensions, Changes and Renewals

If you are extending or changing the conditions of your work permit , ensure your department supervisor has consulted with a Shared Services Immigration Consultant 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 maintained 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  Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (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

Immigration Canada has announced a category-based selection process for Express Entry for 2023.  Visit the Government of Canada webpage for more information.

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:

  • Take a language test by International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)
  • Get an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)
    • While not mandatory, if you have a minimum of one year of recent work experience in Canada you may want/need an ECA to increase your CRS score.
    • Visit IRCC for further details.

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 60 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
  • Employment reference letters from previous employers and your current employer(s) -- see section below
  • Travel history for the last 10 years
  • Employment history for the last 10 years
  • Personal history for the last 10 years
  • Bank statement
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate(s), if applicable
Permanent Residency Letter of Reference

If you are applying to become a permanent resident, you will need a letter of reference (sometimes called a letter of experience) signed by the current supervisor of your current and/or former position. You will need one letter for each position held.

For positions outside of the University of Alberta, use this Letter of Reference template (word)  . You will need to contact those employers, apply the template text to their letterhead, and request their signature.

Steps for a U of A letter of reference

  1. Contact the Staff Service Centre and request the Verification of Employment letter to reference the positions you've worked at the University.
  2. Shared Services will email you with a PDF document that includes all positions held noting your position title, start date, end date, hours worked per week and annual salary and benefits.
  3. Download this Letter of Reference template (word)  for the U of A reference letter. You will be required to fill out the template for each position held, noting all details of your employment.
    • Use the information from the Verification of Employment to complete the salary, benefits, and hours section of your template.
  4. Use the NOC code system to look up your NOC code. Make note of your job classification code and the main duties described for your role. If you need help, contact Immigration Services at the Staff Service Centre for guidance.
  5. Connect with the supervisor(s) of the position(s). Work together to fill out the [bold] fields or complete it on your own and have your supervisor review the information for accuracy of the position.
  6. Save the document as a PDF and have the supervisor sign it on company letterhead.
  7. Submit the completed and signed letter of reference with your permanent residence application.
Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP)

NOTE: On February 15, 2024, the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) (formerly known as the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program) temporarily paused Alberta Opportunity Stream application intake until further notice. Read the AAIP updates for details.

The Alberta Advantage Immigration Program is an economic immigration program operated by the Government of Alberta alongside Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada. Persons interested in the Alberta Express Entry Stream must be invited to apply. You are unable to apply for a nomination in this stream without an invitation to apply. If you receive a Notification of Interest (NOI) from AAIP for your Express Entry profile, you will receive an additional 600 points.

An AAIP 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 AAIP Nominee, you must submit a paper application by mail to IRCC.

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