COVID-19 FAQs for Postdoctoral Fellows

Last Updated December 02, 2020

As we work to keep our communities safe and healthy, we're also here to keep you informed as things change, sometimes quite rapidly.

Most of your questions and concerns related to your appointment should be directed to:

Other inquiries can be directed to us.

Our office has moved to working remotely and are available to address your inquiries through our ticketing system, Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm.

And remember, your SFU Postdoctoral Association is here to support you as well.

Helpful Links

Faculty Relations provided some answers to your most frequently asked questions:

Do I have any benefits to assist with my mental health and wellbeing?

Added December 02, 2020

We are pleased to share that your benefits now include the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP).

As part of the university’s support for the mental health and well-being of its employees and its commitment to ensuring the provision of rights and benefits associated with employment status for our research personnel, the benefits offered to Internal Postdoctoral Fellows have been expanded to include access to confidential and personal counselling for a variety of issues affecting personal, family or work life.

The program is managed by an external provider, Homewood Health, which is staffed with certified counsellors and registered psychologists, and all contact with them is completely confidential. There is no cost to you and no enrolment is required on your part – you and your immediate family are welcome to reach out directly at an

Learn more about SFU’s Employee and Family Assistance Program

Read the summary of the benefits available to Postdoctoral Fellows

Please reach out to the Human Resources Assistant (benefits@sfu.ca) if you have any questions about the program or other benefits.

Is there any delay in postdoc appointments due to COVID-19?

Added prior to July 21, 2020

There is no delay in terms of us processing renewal or new appointments as long as Faculty Relations receives the documentation in time, but there may be delays in starting new appointments due to the IRCC delays in processing work permits. Also, due to the mandatory self-isolation of any travelers entering BC, workers may not be able to start immediately. There may also be delays in obtaining the SIN numbers due to the fact that many Service Canada offices are closed or have reduced hours.

Is there any delay in visa applications due to COVID-19?

Added prior to July 21, 2020

Yes, there are delays in processing of the work permits especially for citizens of countries where the VACs are closed and they cannot do the biometrics. The processing times on the IRCC website are not accurate anymore and it may take longer for citizens of some countries to get their work permits. Citizens of countries that don't require visa can still come with eTA and apply for the work permit at the port of entry, but they will have to isolate for two weeks after entry.

What instructions are provided to postdocs who are due to start over the next couple of months (i.e. self-isolation instructions)? Or are the instructions provided to their supervisors?

Added prior to July 21, 2020

We are initially providing instructions to the PIs. We advise the departments/supervisors who intend to bring in postdocs over the next months about the possible immigration processing delays and about the requirements for foreign postdocs entering Canada to self-isolate because they need to be aware and also make aware the postdocs. It may be very difficult for a foreign postdoc to have a self-isolation plan once he/she comes to Canada and the PI/department cannot really support them with finding a place to stay, picking them up from the airport, etc. The PIs offering a position to an international postdoc need to make an informed decision when offering a position and the postdocs accepting the position need to make an informed decision as well. The PIs are communicating with the postdoc candidates and if they decide to proceed with the offer, we would provide further instructions to the postdocs along with the appointment offer.

Are my supervisor and I being encouraged to consider delaying the start date of the appointment, and if I am international, what implications may that have?

Added prior to July 21, 2020

We are not encouraging you to delay an appointment, we can only provide you with the information to help you make an informed decision. Many of you may decide to delay the starting of the appointment based on the information received, but there may also be PIs who need postdocs to start asap and depending where the postdocs are coming from this may or not be possible so we have to advise case by case. If there are any delays in the starting date of any new postdocs due to health or immigrations reasons, we also work with the PIs and postdocs and provide them with revised appointment letters.