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I was recently interviewed for a postdoctoral position at a top-three institution in the world. The PI has now offered me a position via email which does not include any form of contract. How do I ask politely for a proper offer letter/contract without sounding skeptical about the PI's email offer? I am an international student, and normally universities provide conditional offer letter to the international graduates contingent on the approval of the work permit by the government (which happens immediately after graduation). I will be graduating in May and would like to have a conditional offer letter signed to secure the position officially.

  • Just ask the PI to forward the email to administration so they can write a contract, don't ask the PI to waste time on paperwork... – Herman Toothrot Dec 3 '19 at 16:32
  • Note that in some places, e.g. the US, most employees do not work under a formal written contract, and so you should not expect to receive one. But you should receive a formal offer letter with your title, salary, benefits, start date, etc. – Nate Eldredge Dec 3 '19 at 16:36
  • Just say you need a document to get the work permit. Someone who's only ever worked in the country of their citizenship may have no idea of your requirements. – Azor Ahai -- he him Dec 3 '19 at 20:57
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A top-three institution will certainly have experience with hiring international postdocs, and it is likely they have a standard process for doing so. In my opinion, you can ask your PI to advance the process without worrying about sounding skeptical. You might simply sound excited or eager instead. How about an email like:

Dear PI,

Thank you for your kind offer. I am excited for the opportunity to work together.

If you have the time to send me an official offer letter or similar document, I can apply for the appropriate work permits immediately to prevent any delay in the start date. Is there any additional information I can provide that might be helpful?

Best,

MAPK

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  • This is a great answer in general, but I would find the first sentence confusing: are you saying yes to the offer or not? Assuming you want the position I would explicitly say "Yes, I would like to take this position." – Noah Snyder Dec 3 '19 at 16:38
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    @NoahSnyder Great point. It is definitely better to say it explicitly rather than imply. – small_wayne Dec 3 '19 at 16:39

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