Immigration Process for Foreign Postdoctoral Fellows

Foreign Postdoctoral Fellows are required to obtain a temporary work permit in order to be employed or hold a trainee position at UBC. The steps outlined below provide details on obtaining a temporary work permit and Social Insurance Number (SIN). The steps are broken down into the following sections:


Before Arrival

1. Once the postdoctoral fellow has been offered a position at UBC, their Department or School will start the process to obtain the necessary authorization to work in Canada.

2. UBC sends a letter of invitation to the Postdoctoral Fellow. Note Postdoctoral Fellows do not require a Labour Market Opinion and that a letter of invitation is used instead to obtain the necessary permit/visas. The employer will also provide a completed  Employer Declaration Form  which the postdoc will in turn provide it to CIC as requested.

3. As soon as the letter of invitation is received, the postdoctoral fellow must apply for a temporary work permit from the nearest Canadian Immigration Office. Refer to CIC’s website on Working Temporily in Canada for further details on how to apply. The application form and important information regarding applying for a temporary work permit can be found on the Citizenship & Immigration Canada (CIC) website. The temporary work permit currently costs $150 CDN and depending on the immigration office. It may take several days or several weeks to process the application. Individuals are advised to review the website of their local Canadian Immigration Office to ascertain processing times and required documentation.

It is important to note that if a postdoctoral fellow will hold an unpaid appointment at UBC, or will be receiving their own fellowship funding, an application for a work permit must still be made. A work permit of at least one year in duration is required in order to be eligible for medical coverage under the BC Medical Services Plan and for coverage of school fees of school aged children. Please refer to our Things to Know Before You Arrive page for further information on this and other related matters.

When the temporary work permit is approved, the Canadian Immigration Office will issue a letter approving the issuance of a work permit. The work permit will actually be issues at the border. Travel and moving arrangements can now be finalized.

In addition to a work permit, the CIC may also 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 CIC website. If you are planning to travel outside of Canada while at UBC, please ensure that you notify CIC at the time of application to ensure that, if eligible, a multiple entry visa is obtained.

Biometric Data Requirements

CIC also requires citizens of certain countries to supply biometric data in order to enter Canada. Please refer to the CIC website  for a list of countries whose citizens will be required to provide this data. Note that there is a $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.

4. Upon entry into Canada the new postdoctoral fellow should have the following documents ready for the immigration official to assist the immigration officer in issuing a temporary work permit:

  • The letter of approval from the Canadian Immigration Office (if applicable), and if required a Temporary Resident Visa and Biometric Data requirements
  • The letter of invitation/offer from the University
  • Completed Employer Declaration Form
  • Proof of PhD
  • Passport(s)
  • Temporary resident visa(s) (if applicable)
  • Travel documents (i.e. airline tickets)
  • Marriage certificate or Statutory Declaration of Common Law Union (for accompanying spouse/partner)
  • Children’s birth certificates (if applicable)

5. A temporary work permit will normally be issued for the dates outlined in the letter of invitation. 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 CIC as this has an impact on benefits coverage.

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After Arrival

6. After arrival, the new postdoctoral fellow must apply in person for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) at a Service Canada office. Upon receipt of the SIN card, a copy of this and the temporary work permit must be supplied to Faculty Relations. In the event that the SIN card is not issued prior to the employment start date, a copy of the SIN application receipt will suffice in the interim. 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 you were hired effective July 1 but your work permit is not effective until August 15, your start date will now be August 15th.

7. Upon receipt of the SIN card, the postdoctoral fellow must provide a copy of the SIN card to Faculty Relations.

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Renewal of a Temporary Work Permit

8. Postdoctoral Fellows employed at UBC on a work permit must renew their work permit if their appointment is to continue beyond the expiry of their current work permit.   It is important to renewing a work permit well in advance of the current work permit expiry date. Please refer to the Work Permit Renewal page for important details on timing, and how the renewal may affect pay and benefits.

For further information, please contact Faculty Relations at fr@exchange.ubc.ca.

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