Before you arrive

Before you arrive, you should have your immigration paperwork in place (for international postdoctoral fellows) and some accommodation arranged.  You may also like to arrange a bank account and may have arrangements to make for family.


If you are not a Canadian Citizen or Canadian Permanent Resident, you will need to apply for a temporary work permit in order to be able to work.  Depending on your citizenship and/or the country you are coming from, you may also need an electronic travel authorisation (eTA) or entry visa to be able to enter Canada.  In some cases, Immigration Refugee Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will attach an eTA to your work permit for you.  In that case, if you wish to arrive in Canada before the start date of your appointment, you may need to arrange an eTA for the period before your appointment starts.

The Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Affairs website has some good information and resources for international postdoctoral fellows, with information about bringing spouses and children.

Find out if you need a visa or eTA:

You can apply online for a temporary work permit and look to see if you are eligible for two-week processing:

  • There are still delays in processing time following the pandemic.  You should start preparing your application as soon as you have accepted your offer and be ready to submit your application as soon as you have received your employment number.
  • You will need an employer specific work permit. (Spouses may apply for an open work permit)
  • The end date on your work permit cannot exceed the expiry date of your passport.  If your passport is due to expire soon after you arrive in Waterloo and time permits, you may find it easier to renew your passport before applying for a work permit.
  • Postdoctoral Fellowships are labour market impact assessment (LMIA) exempt. 
  • The University of Waterloo uses the employer portal to get an offer of employment number for you, and we will send you the fee receipt for that to include with your work permit application.
  • If you apply for the two-week processing and are deemed not to be eligible, your application will continue along the usual route.  However, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)  will not tell you this has happened.
  • When you apply for your work permit, you will need to provide proof that you are qualified for the position you are taking.  You should include a copy of your diploma/doctorate/PhD certificate.  If you have not been awarded your certificate yet, note that we are aware that there have been cases where immigration processing was done without a diploma, but that decision is at the discretion of the immigration officer.  Incoming postdocs without diploma should be aware of the risk that the immigration officer may not process their appointment.
    • Some WCA Postdoctoral Fellows have found that an official letter from their institution stating that they have met the requirements of a PhD was sufficient.
    • Some WCA Postdoctoral Fellows have found that they have been required to purchase a return ticket if attempting to board a flight to Canada without their boarding pass.  This is because Canada will charge airlines for the cost to return a passenger denied entry to Canada.  If you opt to get your work permit at the Canadian border, we recommend purchasing a flexible ticket with cancellation coverage.


The University of Waterloo has an off-campus housing website that shares helpful resources if you are looking for housing and roommates, as well important information tips regarding documents, security deposits and landlords.   The “additional off-campus housing options” link at the bottom of the page may be most helpful for finding housing.  Some resources not included on that list are KW Property Management and MLS rental.

Columbia Lake Village Graduate Community has a limited number of two-bedroom townhouses available for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with families to rent from the University.  

Temporary accommodations can be found at Beacon Tower Apartments, and you can look at Airbnb and VRBO (Craigslist is not much used here).   It is also possible to find temporary accommodations on campus, especially over the summer time.

The University of Waterloo Human Resource website also has a lot of helpful tips for relocating to Waterloo Region including real estate listings and realtors, relocation guides and local banking and utilities companies.   

Some general notes:

  • There are numerous new high-rise apartments within walking distance to campus.  There are also older family style homes that are typically shared by undergraduates.
  • You can expect rents to be $1,000-$2,000 per month in Waterloo and less in Kitchener.  
  • Public transportation from Kitchener (bus and ion light rail) is reasonably good but is an added cost.


You must have a bank account to be paid by the University.  It is much easier to do this in person after you arrive, and you may find better fees and services this way.  It is possible to open an online bank account before you arrive.


Childcare (daycare) for infants and pre-school children in Ontario is in very high demand.   To find a childcare provider you must register on OneList Waterloo Region.   It is recommended to do so as soon as you are aware you will need childcare and you can expect to wait for up to a year to find a place.

There are several childcare facilities on campus, and which give priority to children of University of Waterloo employees:

School-age children are automatically eligible for school, but you must register them with the school board you wish them to attend.  You can find information about Waterloo Region schools on the Region of Waterloo education and schools website.

Kindergarten (full day) is recommended but optional and starts in the school year that the child turns four.  School is mandatory from grade 1 (the school year in which your child turns six.)