Tri-Party Update re: Visa Trainees

August 30, 2018


We are writing to provide you with an update on the withdrawal of Saudi visa medical trainees from Canada.  This is a difficult time for our Saudi visa medical trainees and their families who are in the process of leaving Canada at the instruction of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

As you are aware, Saudi visa trainees are placed in health authorities across British Columbia. Currently, there are 43 active visa medical trainees. 24 of the trainees are residents and the remaining 19 are clinical fellows.  The exact date of departure for these trainees is evolving, with the most recent notification on August 28th from the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau confirming the following:

  • Saudi visa medical trainees have been advised that they may remain in their programs at Canadian medical schools until they have confirmed admission into equivalent training programs in other countries.
  • Saudi visa medical trainees who have taken a leave of absence, at their option, may return to their programs and resume training in Canada.


As we monitor this developing situation, UBC, our provincial Health Authorities, and the Resident Doctors of BC will continue to work closely in identifying solutions to ensure that clinical service is not interrupted should the medical trainees depart, and ensure postgraduate programs continue uninterrupted. 

While there may be some changes to resident call schedules as a result of the departure of the Saudi residents and clinical fellows, we want to reassure you that UBC’s Faculty of Medicine and the Health Authorities do not at this time anticipate any challenges complying with the call-scheduling provisions in the Collective Agreement, and recognize that the call maximums set out in the RDBC-HEABC collective agreement continue to apply.

We appreciate that this has been difficult for members of the medical community who have worked alongside the Saudi residents and clinical fellows. Please know that together we are working hard to manage this situation, support our visa trainees and their families, and ensure patients in British Columbia continue to receive optimal patient care.

Thank you for your ongoing efforts during this challenging time. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact postgrad@postgrad.med.ubc.ca or Resident Wellness Office at

From the Tri-Party Committee:

Dr Ravi Sidhu, Associate Dean, PGME
Dr Michael Nimmo, VCH
Harry Gray, Executive Director RDBC
Dr David Kim, President, RDBC
Eleana Swift, HEABC Physician Services
Deanna Brummitt, HEABC, Physician Services

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author: Michelle Seymour