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), and also provide information on what is expected after the foreign postdoctoral fellow arrives at UBC:

Before Arrival

1. Once the the appointment as a postdoctoral fellow has been confirmed at UBC, their Department or School will provide a letter of offer and the Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Offer ID Number. This information is required to obtain the necessary authorization to work in Canada. It is important to note that postdoctoral fellows do not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), but the employer must pay a $230 compliance fee and provide Offer of Employment information to IRCC.

2. As soon as the postdoctoral fellow has been provided with the necessary information from their department, they must apply for a temporary work permit from the nearest Canadian Immigration Office. Refer to IRCC’s website for further details on how and where to apply, and whether a medical exam may be required. The application form and important information regarding applying for a temporary work permit can be found on the IRCC website. The temporary work permit currently costs $155 CDN.  Processing time vary between IRCC offices, and 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.

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 6 months 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.

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 issued at the border. Travel and moving arrangements can now be finalized.

In addition to a work permit, the IRCC 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 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.

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: IRCC also requires citizens of certain countries to supply biometric data 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 a $85 CAD per person fee (subject to change) associated with this. Families applying together for a visitor visa will pay a maximum biometric fee of up to $170 CAD.

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Preparing for Arrival

Foreign postdoctoral fellows are strongly encouraged to take the time to familiarize themselves with the immigration process as well as with UBC and the benefits and amenities of the campus and surrounding area. The following additional resources provide helpful information:

3. In preparation for arrival, the new postdoctoral fellow should gather the following necessary documents and have them ready for the immigration officer’s inspection upon entry into Canada:

  • The letter of approval from the Canadian Immigration Office (if applicable)
  • Letter of offer from UBC
  • IRCC Offer of Employment ID Number
  • Proof of PhD (or letter from Dean of Graduate Studies providing proof of near completion)
  • Passport(s)
  • Temporary resident visa(s) and/or eTA (as applicable)
  • Biometric Data requirements (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)

Additional documentation: Refer to the documentation checklist found on work permit application page of the IRCC website.

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 IRCC as this has an impact on benefits coverage.

For more information on working in Canada, please refer to Working Temporarily in Canada.

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4.  At the Canadian port of entry, the immigration officer issues the work permit, which allows the foreign postdoctoral fellow to work at UBC on a temporary basis. It is important for the postdoctoral fellow to make sure that they have all of the necessary documents (as listed above and on the IRCC website) with them and to check the work permit once it has been issued to them in order to ensure that all of the information contained within is correct (for example, the employer listed should be UBC and the job title should correspond to the postdoctoral fellow’s new position).

NOTE: The issuance date of the work permit is the date upon which UBC may lawfully employ a foreign postdoctoral fellow. For example, if the effective date of a foreign postdoctoral fellow’s appointment at UBC is effective July 1st, but the work permit is not issued until August 15th, the start date of the position will be August 15th.

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After Arrival

5. 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 confirmation information, a copy of this and the temporary work permit must be supplied to Faculty Relations (UBCV) or Human Resources (UBCO). Please note that SINs are valid for the duration of the temporary work permit.

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Renewal of a Temporary Work Permit

6. 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 or Human Resources (UBCO) at

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