Applying for a work permit

crabapple blossoms on the McGill campus

International postdocs must have a valid work permit to legally work in Canada, and must apply for the permit prior to coming to McGill to take on a postdoctoral appointment.

Work permit applications

In order to obtain a Canadian work permit, international postdocs 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 postdoc, as well as the duration of your postdoctoral appointment and the level/source of stipend that you will be receiving. You may use this letter in support of your application for work permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
  • Ensure that your academic unit has completed the offer of employment online through the Employer Portal and paid the associated fee before you submit your work permit application. You will need to include the offer of employment number with your work permit application. 
  • Complete the work permit application and submit it to the Canadian visa office serving your home country. The IRCC provides a list of Canadian visa offices outside of Canada on their website.
  • Postdocs who already hold a work permit and wish to extend their stay in Canada should complete a work permit application as referred to in the renewal process.
  • As a postdoc, 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 postdocs 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 IRCC.

NOTE: the Government of Quebec recognizes spousal open work permits for postdoctoral registration. International postdocs on work permits may not attend any educational institution and take any academic, professional or vocational training course (as stated on the permit).

Renewing your work permit

  • International postdocs must ensure that they hold a valid work permit at all times. It is very important that you file your application for a renewed work permit with an IRCC Office within a sufficient timeline (at least 90 days if you apply online and at least 120 days if you send your application by regular mail) before the expiry date on your current work permit, and that you pay the appropriate fees and keep your receipt. This also applies to accompanying spouses/dependents.
  • If the delay in processing and issuing your new work permit is attributable to IRCC, you will be presumed as having “implied status”, provided that you do not leave Canada during the time you are waiting to receive your new 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 the IRCC (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 health insurance, 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 IRCC regulations and health insurance rules for holders of work permits.

Work permits for spouses/dependants


Information on the Spousal Employment Authorization initiative can be found in the IRCC's work permit FAQs under "Can my spouse or common-law partner work in Canada?".

School-aged children

Please consult with an IRCC 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.

Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License.
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, McGill University.

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