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.

New appointments

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 in 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 provincial directives to work remotely and the shutdown of non-essential research, can I start my appointment as planned?
You should contact your new supervisor as soon as possible to discuss your appointment and determine if the circumstances require any changes to the appointment terms and conditions.

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. Please refer to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

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. Please refer to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Research

I cannot complete my research as much of campus research is closed. What should I do?

Contact your supervisor to discuss if and how you might be able to complete your work from a remote worksite. If your research requires lab or field access but these activities have been closed down, other meaningful activities in support of your research may be identified in consultation with your supervisor, such as working on data analysis, publications and presentations. If your research does not require a wet-lab, field work or an on-campus facility, it may be possible that you could complete your research in a remote environment. If your research is deemed essential, discuss that with your supervisor and dean to see if the research may continue with appropriate safeguards and protective measures in place.

Non-employees (visitors/guests and trainees)

I have my own fellowship funding but cannot complete my research, as much of campus research is closed. What should I do?
Continue to do as much work as possible from a remote worksite and contact your funding agency to see if there may be any issues with your funding as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. If you require any assistance, please seek advice from the Postdoctoral Fellows Office.

Supervisors

I’ve appointed a non-resident postdoctoral fellow. Travel restrictions prevent 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 invitation letter and resubmit it to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for processing. 

If the foreign national has submitted a work permit application and it is currently in process but delayed, they may be required to cancel it and reapply when they receive a new letter from U of A with the revised start date. Please contact immigration.services@ualberta.ca.

If the postdoctoral fellow’s delayed arrival will create unforeseen issues with your research, please contact the Postdoctoral Fellows academic director 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.