Visiting Fellowship Program (NSERC)

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) - Visiting Fellowship Program at Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.


The Visiting Fellowships in Canadian Government Laboratories Program offers postdoctoral scientists and engineers the opportunity to work with supervisors in various departments and research institutions. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) administers this Program. Several Government departments and agencies, including Health Canada (HC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), actively participate in the NSERC Visiting Fellowship (VF) Program.

Qualifications and Applications for Fellowships

To be eligible for a Visiting Fellowship, the candidate must be within six months of completing a PhD, or have received the degree from a recognized university no more than five years prior, in a Natural Sciences and Engineering related field. To remain eligible for the Program, if the applicant withdrew from the work force and active research for maternity leave, or to raise a child for at least a year, the maximum limit is six years from the date of a candidate's PhD.

To apply, Form 200 from the NSERC Website must be completed by the applicant and sent to the NSERC-VF Program Administrator or Officer who processes it. See the NSERC Website for a copy of the  application and related documents.

NSERC also requires two independent letters of reference and a copy of the candidate's PhD diploma or degree.

As the Program is ongoing, applications may be submitted anytime, but VF candidates may not start work between February 15 and March 31 because of NSERC's fiscal year end. Decisions are conveyed to candidates approximately three months after the receipt of their complete application.

The current value of the Visiting Fellowship stipend is between $53,077 and $65,903 per annum. On July 1st of each year, the value of the stipend is adjusted if required by the SE-RES collective agreement. Fellowships are provided initially for one year. Renewals for a second and third year are at the discretion of HC and PHAC.

HC, PHAC and NSERC have agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding that NSERC's involvement in this Program will be on a cost recovery basis which includes the payment of administrative fees in each of the three years of the Fellowship.

Health Canada and Public Health Agency of Canada Participation and Commitments of Host Laboratories

More than twenty laboratories at HC and PHAC currently participate in this Program. Host departments and agencies agree to provide the NSERC Visiting Fellow with an opportunity to engage in research of mutual interest. Some laboratories integrate Visiting Fellows into existing research teams and projects. Others allow Visiting Fellows to develop and conduct independent research under the supervision of senior scientists.

Program Requirements

Selected candidates may be required to pass a standardized official language proficiency examination before being nominated by the host department or agency. Please note that foreign nationals must obtain employment authorization and a visitor's visa from a Canadian Visa Officer before arriving in Canada. Visiting Fellows must renew their employment authorization before it expires. The costs of visas, employment authorizations and medical examinations are non-refundable. HC and PHAC require valid security clearances for NSERC-VF applicants before the award is offered to the Visiting Fellow.

Invention Agreements (Form E-4) must be signed by the Visiting Fellow stating that the rights to any invention made during tenure of the Fellowship are vested in the Government of Canada. A copy of this  Form is available to participants on the NSERC Website.


Participating departments, such as HC and PHAC, are responsible for the evaluation of candidates' proposals and applications. Two reviewers with appropriate expertise, selected from a list of HC and PHAC scientists, evaluate the candidate's application and proposal. In the case where there is disagreement between the two reviewers, a third evaluation may be required to resolve this issue. NSERC maintains a Peer Review Committee for the purpose of evaluating applications for which a recommendation cannot be reached by the department. This Committee also acts in cases where the department does not have the expertise to evaluate the candidate's application.


If HC/PHAC wishes to nominate a person on the NSERC-VF Inventory List, the host department or agency sends the Nomination Form to NSERC and HC/PHAC has the responsibility of verifying the current address of the candidate before submitting that Form.

The first proposed department or agency on the applicant's form has exclusive rights to make an offer until the next monthly posting of new candidates on the NSERC Extranet Website. After that, all participating departments or agencies in the Program have an opportunity to make an offer to the candidate.

HC/PHAC's NSERC-VF Nomination Form contains all the information required to make an offer to the candidate. It contains tenure location, description of the project, supervisor's name and amount of the candidate's stipend.

HC/PHAC must submit justification to NSERC for a higher than regular stipend by completing NSERC's Stipendiary Top-Up Form. Both the Nomination and Stipendiary Top-Up Forms must be completed and submitted together to NSERC before the Letter of Offer is issued by NSERC to the Visiting Fellow.

Start Dates, Tenure, Termination and Additional Information

Fellowships may be accepted upon receipt of written confirmation of the award from NSERC. The start date is subject to the approval of the host laboratory and candidate taking into consideration the travel time to arrive at the place of work.

This Program does not provide additional allowances for research costs, tuition fees or publication costs. Decisions about these matters rest with the host Federal Government department or agency.

Providing that satisfactory progress is made (reported on Form E-6) and funding is available, the Fellowship may be renewed for two additional periods of twelve months each by HC/PHAC. Notice of termination (Form E-7) must be received by NSERC when a Visiting Fellow leaves his/her position before the expiry date of the Fellowship. Copies of these two  Forms and others related to the NSERC/VF Program are available on the NSERC Website.

Following termination from the Program, any overpayment will be requested from the Visiting Fellow by NSERC. Upon receipt of the refund, NSERC will reimburse the host department or agency.

The Program also offers a four month paid parental leave for NSERC Visiting Fellows.

Additional Information

Please see the  NSERC and Health Canada Web Sites for more information about this Visiting Fellowship Program, especially the  NSERC Program Guide for Students and Fellows.

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