Appointing an International/US Postdoctoral Fellow

This page will help you navigate through the various requirements for hiring a postdoctoral fellow who is not Canadian. If you have any questions, please contact

Looking for new instructions on how to submit an Offer of Employment to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for your postdoctral fellow's work permit application? Please see the Work Permits section below.

Work Permits

  • The prospective postdoctoral fellow will require an Offer of Employment Number.
  • The prospective postdoctoral fellow will require a detailed letter which will state the amount of remuneration, location, nature and expected duration of the term of employment. If the research funding is from a foreign source, proof of that needs to be submitted as part of the application. Downloadable sample letters are available for Grant PDFs (Letter of Appointment) and for External PDFs (Letter of Invitation). Make sure you know the difference between both definitions, as each requires a different letter. This can be determined through the source of their funding. If their primary source of funding is an external source then they are an External PDF. If they are being funded through a Faculty members’ grant, then they are a Grant PDF.
  • The letter should be provided to the PDF at least 3-4 months in advance of their anticipated start date in order to give them sufficient time to obtain their visas. 
  • The prospective postdoctoral fellow should apply for a work permit at the closest Canadian Consulate or Embassy in his or her country. This can take 2–3 months. There is a list of average processing times for different countries on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website. US citizens and permanent residents of the US may apply for work permits at their port of entry into Canada (land border crossing or airport).

Social Insurance Number

Health Care Plans

  • The individual should apply for the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP) upon arrival in Canada. Please be aware that there is a 3 month waiting period before coverage will begin (2 full months, plus the remainder of the month of arrival).
  • During the waiting period for MSP, postdoctoral fellows are required to carry their own medical insurance or purchase private coverage. (They are eligible to purchase a group-rate directly from Guard Me, the university's vendor for international student medical insurance. Contact for information about current fee options.
  • Note that Grant PDFs are eligible for employment benefits through the university and should apply to the BC MSP through SFU Human Resources. See Section 3.3 of the Postdoctoral Fellows policy. They would still require private coverage during the 3-month waiting period for MSP.

Register at SFU

  • The final step for the postdoctoral fellow is to complete the PDF registration form and email it to the Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Fellows at This will allow them to get an SFU email account and provide access to the library and other university services.