Frequently Asked Questions for Postdoctoral Fellows

The COVID-19 crisis has created some unique issues for the university's postdoctoral fellows. The following are some answers to some commonly asked questions. More information will be added as it becomes available.

For up-to-date on general COVID information for the university community, please visit the university’s COVID-19 website.

New appointments

I am arriving in Canada to begin my fellowship. What are the quarantine requirements?
Quarantine requirements for postdoctoral fellows are the same as for other international trainees (such as graduate students) and academic visitors who are coming to campus. Please see the “Important Update” box on the Travel to Canada During COVID page for relevant information.
I have been vaccinated (fully or partially) in my home country. Will I need to be re-vaccinated in Canada?
Information on current vaccination requirements and what to do if you are partially vaccinated is available at this page.
I have not been vaccinated in my home country. Can I obtain the vaccine in Canada? How much will it cost?

PDFs should contact Alberta Health Services Heath Link (Dial 811) to inquire about their eligibility to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 is free to eligible individuals.

I am hesitant to return to my lab until I have been fully vaccinated. What can I do?

Talk to your supervisor about the nature of your concerns. Controls such as masking and alternate working hours are effective to prevent disease transmission. Research groups should work together for the health and safety of all group members.

I cannot arrive by my fellowship start date due to travel restrictions. What should I do?

If you are unable to arrive in Canada to begin working your postdoctoral fellowship appointment on the anticipated start date, discuss this with your new supervisor, and you may be able to request a delayed start date. If a delayed start date is approved and if your work permit has already been approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, please contact Immigration Services in Human Resource Services and they can assist and advise on what is required to update the work permit application. In the event that it is not possible to extend the start date, the supervisor should contact the Post-Doctoral Fellows Office for advice.

With the province entering stage 3, can I start my appointment as planned?

You should contact your new supervisor as soon as possible to discuss your appointment and determine if there are any adjustments that need to be made. Work that can be done remotely is still encouraged to be done remotely.

Payments

Will I continue to be paid during the university’s response to COVID-19?

Your fellowship earnings will continue during your current appointment unless special circumstances warrant a disruption of earnings.

Appointments ended or ending soon

I am a non-resident and my fellowship has completed or is ending soon. If travel restrictions prevent me from returning home, what should I do?

Notify the consulate of your home country to let them know that you are in Canada and unable to travel as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions. You should review your work permit/visa to assess if there will be any immigration issues as a result of your delayed departure from Canada. Seek advice from Immigration Services or visit the IRCC Coronavirus Special Measures site.

As your fellowship earnings will stop at the end of your current appointment, you may also consider applying for any of the provincial or federal funding programs available as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, if your circumstances allow.

My fellowship is almost complete. Travel restrictions prevent me from leaving Canada for another appointment. What should I do?

As your fellowship earnings will stop at the end of your current appointment, you should contact your new employer and discuss your options for remote work if possible or delay your start date. You may also consider applying for any of the provincial or federal funding programs available as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Can my fellowship be extended beyond the 5-year term limit outlined in the university’s PDF policy?

The maximum five year term can be extended if there has been an interruption to the PDF’s research career. Supervisors should contact the Postdoctoral Office to make a request to extend a PDF beyond the 5-year term due to delays resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research

My research has been affected, interrupted or delayed due to campus closures and field research restrictions. What should I do?

Contact your supervisor to discuss your situation, and the options available.

Non-employees (visitors/guests and trainees)

I have my own fellowship funding but my research has been affected with campus closures and restrictions. What should I do?

Continue to do as much work as possible from a remote worksite until a general return in the fall. Also contact your funding agency to see if there may be any issues with your funding as a result of COVID-19. If you require any assistance, please seek advice from the Postdoctoral Fellows Office

Supervisors

I’ve appointed a non-resident postdoctoral fellow. Travel restrictions are still preventing them from beginning their appointment. What can I do?

Foreign nationals who are approved to work in Canada are exempt from the international border closure rule at this time however with flight restrictions and other international border closures, travel may not be possible or delayed. If your postdoctoral fellow is unable to arrive in Canada to begin working on the anticipated start date, you may honour the appointment and suggest a later start date. You would need to notify Immigration Services in Human Resource Services so they can update the Offer of Employment submitted to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for processing. Or, if the foreign national has submitted a work permit application and it is currently in process but delayed, the Invitation Letter issued by the department will need to be amended with the new start date of employment once the application is reviewed by IRCC. Please contact immigration.services@ualberta.ca for more details.

Human Resources also provides some more information for foreign nationals. If the postdoctoral fellow’s delayed arrival will create unforeseen issues with your research, please contact the Postdoctoral Fellows Academic Director by emailing pdfolead@ualberta.ca.

While working remotely, my postdoctoral fellow cannot access the lab to support our research project; can I suspend the appointment?

Please continue payment as per the appointment obligations, until further determination notice is made by the university. If the research is deemed essential, please discuss with your dean and continue to explore other meaningful activities in support of the research that could be completed from a remote worksite. Supervisors with specific questions should contact Faculty Relations at facrel@ualberta.ca.

My postdoctoral fellow’s appointment ends soon. They cannot leave Canada to return home. What should I do?

You can request an appointment extension if funding and remote work is available to the postdoctoral fellow. Extension requests must be sent to pdfolead@ualberta.ca.

Benefit coverage

I am a non-resident postdoctoral fellow whose appointment is complete or ends soon. Travel restrictions prevent me returning home. Can I extend benefit coverage?
Yes, if you do not have provincial health insurance, you may purchase additional health insurance from the University of Alberta Health Insurance Plan.
I am a visiting postdoctoral fellow. Travel restrictions have delayed my return home. Can my University of Alberta Health Insurance Plan coverage be extended?
Yes, if you do not have provincial health insurance, you may purchase additional health insurance from the University of Alberta Health Insurance Plan.

Contact pdfo@ualberta.ca for additional questions.