Visitors to the University (Foreign, Canadian and Academic)

Visitors are people who come to the university for some kind of business or academic work for a short term. They may be affiliated with an institution, industry or private sector.

Academic visitors are a type of visitor that includes professors, researchers, business professionals or students who visit for academic evaluation, seminars, research collaboration, teaching opportunities, speaking events, and more. There is an academic visitor immigration category, but "academic visitors" is used at the university to refer to both Canadian and foreign visitors.

Foreign visitors are those who are not Canadian or permanent residents.

At the University of Alberta, visitors are classified as “Persons of Interest”.

View the instructions below for inviting either foreign visitors or Canadian visitors to campus.

Inviting Foreign Visitors

Immigration Services in Shared Services provides consultative advisory services to senior leaders, faculties, administrative units, staff, and employees who are non-Canadian residents on immigration matters. Contact the Staff Service Centre if you need guidance.

To ensure compliance with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) legislation, steps must be taken to properly invite foreign visitors to campus under the correct category.

Before you begin

Plan ahead and start the process early. Processing times for work permits and visas vary from country to country.

Important: Ensure that all recruitment files involving foreign nationals are retained for a minimum of six years.

Process for inviting

You’ll need to submit a Foreign Visitor Category Assessment unless the foreign national coming to the University of Alberta falls under one of the following categories, in which case, use the hyperlinked invitation template: 

Interviewee
Interviewee: will visit campus to attend an interview for employment. May also visit campus facilities and meet university staff members.
Guest Speaker/Seminar Leader/Workshop Facilitator
Guest Speaker/Seminar Leader/Workshop Facilitator: will visit campus to deliver speeches, workshops or seminars not exceeding five days of speaking engagements.
Conference/Workshop/Seminar Participant
Conference/Workshop/Seminar Participant: will attend as an event participant only.
Event Participant and Speaker
Participant and Speaker: will attend as an event participant and deliver a presentation or make speeches (not exceeding five days of speaking engagements).
Academic Evaluator/Examiner
Academic Evaluator/Examiner: will visit campus to either review a student's thesis or work done by a student under visitor's tutelage, OR who will evaluate university programs or research proposals.

For all other foreign visitors, follow these steps:

1. Submit a Foreign Visitor Category Assessment (FVCA)

The Foreign Visitor Category Assessment is sent through the Immigration Management System to Immigration Services to allow them to determine the category under which the visitor may be eligible. For details on how to use the Immigration Management System, see the Foreign Visitor Category Assessment User Guide and Tips Sheet.

Important: the FVCA asks for information about internal and external financial support. If you select that a person will be receiving a scholarship or award, you are required to upload the confirmation of the award. The FCVA cannot be processed without that letter. If the award has not been issued, complete the Research Award Recipient Letter of Support template, and provide it to the foreign national. Once they provide you with  confirmation of their award, complete the FVCA and upload it where indicated.  

2. Monitor the status of the FVCA

Check the status of your FVCA to determine if there are any outstanding requirements noted by an Immigration Consultant. Check the comments and update or correct the FVCA assessment accordingly.

Immigration Services will submit the information to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) employer portal, and pay the employer compliance fee, which will be charged to the speed code you provide. This will generate an Offer of Employment Number, exempt from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA).

3. Complete the steps emailed to you

Instructions for next steps, along with the correct letter of invitation, the employer compliance fee receipt, and guidelines to support the foreign nationals work permit application process will be emailed to the contacts identified in the FVCA. 

Correcting or Canceling an Offer of Employment Number

If you need to correct or modify the terms and conditions submitted, such as duration of stay, wages, errors in name, passport, etc.), contact Immigration Services through the Staff Service Centre and indicate the details/corrections required. If the visitor has not yet submitted their work permit application with the Offer of Employment Number, the information can be updated in the IRCC system without needing to be withdrawn.

If you need to cancel the Offer of Employment Number, contact Immigration Services through the Staff Service Centre with the following information:

  • In the subject field, state: Withdrawal of Offer of Employment and Request Refund. 

  • Provide the foreign national's full name, the host department, Offer of Employment Number and indicate if you are requesting a re-assessment or canceling.

Immigration Services will:

  • Request a withdrawal of the offer of employment and request a refund from Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) on your behalf

  • Change the status of your Foreign Visitor Category Assessment (FVCA) to "incomplete" if you are requesting a re-assessment. This will allow you to make any changes required
When the foreign visitor arrives
1. Gather documentation
  • Visit our HR Forms and Document Management System and choose the Person of Interest Pay Action Form for your situation, and follow the instructions.

  • A copy of the invitation letter sent by the host department

  • A signed Liability Waiver form

  • Copy of immigration documents, such as a Work Permit, Visitor Record or Study Permit (if enrolled in Research 900)

  • Letter from funding source (e.g. if categorized as a Research Award Recipient)

  • Confirmation of International Experience Canada or Student Work Abroad Program approval if applicable
2. Submit documentation to Shared Services

Submit the documentation altogether as attachments to Shared Services through the Staff Service Centre.

Once Shared Services receives the Pay Action Form to set up the visitor in Peoplesoft, you will be notified. The foreign national may now come to campus.

Inviting Canadian citizens or Canadian permanent residents as visitors

1. Send an invite letter and liability form to the visitor
Use this invitation letter template to invite the visitor and have them complete the Liability Waiver.
2. Gather documentation

Visit our HR Forms and Document Management System and choose the Person of Interest Pay Action Form for your situation, and follow the instructions.

Gather:

  • A copy of the invitation letter

  • A signed Liability Waiver

  • A letter from their home institution indicating affiliation and preferably liability coverage

  • If applicable: letter from funding source (e.g. if categorized as a Research Award Recipient)
3. Submit documentation to Shared Services

Submit the documentation altogether as attachments to Shared Services through the Staff Service Centre.

Once Shared Services receives the Pay Action Form to set up the visitor in Peoplesoft, you will be notified.

Payments to Visitors

While most of the visitors are not paid or funded by the university, host departments may provide payments to academic visitors as part of their visit to the university. This section describes payment types, payment methods and tax considerations that may be applicable to such payments. Payments must be consistent with university policy and applicable immigration regulations.

Living Allowance

A living allowance may be provided to foreign national academic visitors and are meant to cover daily living expenses such as room and board, transportation, and other incidental expenses. Living allowance payments are generally considered gross income to the recipient, and are treated as taxable income unless a tax exemption can be claimed. The faculty or unit must indicate the amount on the pay action form (PAF) or eForm when submitting to Shared Services. Amounts payable as living allowance must be reasonable and sufficient to meet the cost of living expense in Edmonton for one person.

Travel and Business Expense Reimbursement

Visitors can be reimbursed for travel and business expenses incurred while engaging in activities at the university. We recommend that reimbursements be included in the invitation letter for the visitor, so the host should determine what reimbursements will be covered prior to the arrival of the visitor.The university’s policies and procedures covering expense reimbursement must be followed when reimbursing these expenses. Visit the Non-Employee Reimbursements page to process eligible travel and business expense reimbursement payments.

Honoraria

An honorarium is a voluntary payment provided to an individual in recognition of services rendered for which no fee is legally or traditionally required. This payment is at the sole discretion of the university through the department, faculty or unit that wishes to provide it. Honorarium payments are generally considered gross income to the recipient and are tax reportable if the amount paid by the university exceeds $500 in a calendar year. In cases where an honorarium is provided to the visitor, the requesting faculty or department must indicate the amount on the pay action form (PAF) or eForm when submitting to Shared Services.

Preparing a visitor for campus

Please review our Onboarding Resources for Supervisors content.

A CCID and ONEcard provides access to various campus privileges. Building access can be requested through your department administrator. A proximity ONEcard can be requested through this online form which has an option for the department to provide a speed code for paying the one card fees.

Encourage foreign visitors to view the Life in Canada page.