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Applying for a work permit

Non-Canadian postdoctorals must have a valid Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) work permit to legally work in Canada, and must apply for the permit prior to coming to McGill to take on a postdoctoral appointment.

Please note that international postdocs on work permits are prohibited from attending any educational institution and taking any academic, professional or vocational training course (as stated on the permit).

Work permit application procedure

In order to obtain a Canadian work permit, international postdoctorals must:

  • Hold a valid passport
  • Obtain a letter of invitation/offer of postdoctoral appointment from a McGill University faculty member (letter must indicate the total stipend amount). If you are receiving funding from a source outside of Canada, the source of funding and stipend should be indicated in the letter of invitation/offer.
  • The letter of invitation from the department should state that you are being invited as a postdoctoral fellow, as well as the duration of your postdoctoral appointment and the level/source of stipend that you will be receiving. You will use this letter in support of your application for a CIC valid work permit.
  • Complete the CIC work permit application and submit it to the Canadian visa office serving your home country. CIC provides a list of Canadian visa offices outside of Canada on their website.
  • Postdocs who already hold a CIC work permit and wish to extend their stay in Canada should complete a CIC work permit application as referred to in the renewal process.
  • As a postdoctoral fellow, you will not need a Certificate of Acceptance in the Province of Quebec (Certificat d’acceptation du Québec). Consequently, the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) process is not applicable to postdoctorals as they are registered at McGill as advanced research trainees/full-time students in a non degree program.
  • It is the responsibility of the postdoc to obtain the required valid legal documentation from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
  • New postdoctorals who hold a spousal open work permit should note that the Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sport (MELS) does not recognize spousal open work permits for postdoctoral registration, although they may accept a spousal work permit for your initial postdoctoral registration for a very short period of time. The holder of a spousal work permit must obtain their own work permit, following the procedures listed above, immediately following their initial registration.

Renewing your work permit

Temporarily leaving Canada during work permit processing

  • If you leave Canada temporarily before your application for a work permit (renewed or initial) is finalized by CIC Case Processing Centre (i.e. before your work permit has been issued or re-issued and has physically reached you), you put yourself at risk of losing your “implied status”.
  • When you seek re-entry into Canada without being in possession of a valid work permit, your application will be automatically cancelled. You will have to re-apply for a work permit (either at the port of entry if you have the right to do so, or at a visa office outside Canada) and pay another processing fee. 
  • Such a situation may have a negative impact on your eligibility for Quebec Medicare benefits, and on that of family members whose legal status in Canada is linked to your work permit. 
  • It is advisable that you inform yourself of CIC regulations and Medicare benefits for holders of work permits.

Work permits for spouses/dependants


Information on the Spousal Employment Authorization initiative can be found in Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Work Permit FAQ's under "Can my spouse or common-law partner work in Canada?".

School-aged children

Please consult with a CIC representative at the Canadian Embassy/Consulate in your home country to ensure that any child who will be entering Canada receives a proper permit or is indicated as a dependent on the postdoc’s work permit.

Accompanying school-aged children do not have to provide a letter of acceptance to be issued a Study Permit if the head of family is coming to Canada to study or work. School registration can be done once the family has arrived in Montreal.

For additional information, please see Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Work Permit FAQ's.