Visiting International Research Student at UBC Okanagan

UBC is a hub for outstanding researchers from around the world and welcomes Visiting International Research Students (VIRS) to participate in our community of inquiry.

A Visiting International Research Student is an international student conducting research full-time at UBC, under the supervision of a UBC faculty member.

The student is either enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate, or graduate-equivalent program at another university or is a participant in a UBC-recognized (through Go Global) “bridging” program*.

A VIRS is enrolled as a “full time” student at UBC for immigration purposes. VIRS students may not enroll in academic courses for credit, nor formally audit courses.

The VIRS admission process is rolling and there are no deadlines. We strongly encourage students to submit their applications at least 12 weeks before the intended date of arrival.

*Examples of a “bridging” program: DAAD Rise Worldwide and Mitacs Globalinks. Contact us with respect to other programs.

Effective November 2020, the VIRS Program has resumed.

Due to changes in the immigration policy at the national level, we are gradually re-opening the VIRS program, which includes in-person research resumption. The preference is still for those students attending through the VIRS pathway to complete as much of their research as possible in a remote setting, however if your research requires you to be on-campus then the capacity to do so now exists. There are a few things to be aware of should you elect to come to UBCO in person:

  • Your supervisor must be in agreement that your research requires you to be on-campus. If they agree, they will need to complete a short document for you to provide, along with your letter of acceptance, to the immigration officer upon entry into Canada. Some potential challenges you may encounter could include:
    • Continued closure of visa application centers in your home country for biometrics collection
    • Continued closure of medical exam facilities in your home country
    • Significantly delayed study permit and visa processing times
    • Scarcity and expense of flights
  • Immigration procedures can change at any time. As such, we encourage you to continually monitor the Immigration and Health Insurance FAQ on COVID-19 page on our website
  • Make sure you review the iMED: Temporary Health Insurance for International Student’s website for everything you need to know about your health insurance requirements while attending UBC
  • Students MUST self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada. Some on-campus accommodation options are available and information will be provided following your application to VIRS

For more information about COVID-19 and UBC’s response, please visit


A VIRS must:

  • Not have Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status.
  • Actively pursuing a degree at a post-secondary institution in Canada or abroad (undergraduate, graduate, or graduate-equivalent program) OR be part of a recognized bridging program.
    • Examples of bridging programs: The Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) and Mitacs Globalink. Please contact us with respect to other programs
  • Will maintain enrollment at their home university for the duration of their stay at UBC
  • Have a plan to conduct research for one month or longer
    • The maximum length of proposed research period that a VIRS can be approved for is one year (12 months). At the end of the approved visit period, the student may request an extension for up to one year.
  • Have no intention to enter into an employment relationship with the university related to the research – please see study permit info for more details
  • Obtain approval for research activities at UBC by obtaining signatures from:
    • Supervisor from the student’s institution.
    • The student’s Home university or sponsoring program.
    • The host supervisor at UBC.
    • The UBC Department Head for the unit or laboratory with which the visiting research student will be affiliated.


We need to receive your completed application at least twelve weeks prior to the planned start date for the research. Take into account that the study permit and/or entry visa application processing times may vary and your VIRS application should be received well in advance for you to receive the Letter of Acceptance to apply for a study permit and/or entry visa.

Initial Application

  1. Download and save the VIRS Approval Form (PDF) onto your computer. Complete the form and obtain all required signatures. Save the form in .pdf or .jpeg format.
  2. Complete the VIRS Initial Application Online survey and upload the Approval Form where indicated.
  3. Proceed to the next step and apply for a UBC Student ID Number (you will receive the link to complete this step after successfully submitting the VIRS Initial Application).

Formal Application

  1. Complete and submit the online application using the link you will receive from Go Global.
  2. Create your Campus Wide Login (CWL) account using the student number you will receive after submitting the online application. A Campus Wide Login (CWL) lets you to access the Student Service Centre (SSC), where you will be able to make fee payments.
  3. Pay the VIRS program fee ($415.00) which will be charged to your account on SSC about one week after you obtain your UBC Student ID Number. Eligible students will receive their UBC Letter of Acceptance by email within 10 business days of fee payment.
  4. Apply for the appropriate immigration documents [Study Permit, Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), and/or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), as applicable] using the Letter of Acceptance you will receive. Check out processing times for various immigration document applications on the Government of Canada website. Please be aware that:
    • Students engaged in research lasting six months or longer require a study permit.
    • Students engaged in research lasting less than six months are advised to apply for a study permit, but may complete their research under visitor status.

How to Apply for a Study Permit


A VIRS pays a program fee of $415.00 for any period from one month up to one year. The fee must be renewed after one year, should the VIRS wish to extend their research period.

  • No tuition fees will be assessed.
  • The VIRS program fee will be reviewed on an annual basis and are subject to change without notice.

Mandatory Medical Insurance (iMED and BC MSP)

As any new international student, VIRS will automatically be enrolled in the iMED Health Insurance program. Learn more about iMED costs, coverage length, and opt-out eligibility.

Some additional information specific to VIRS:

  • If the duration of your research is one to six months, your fees will be:
    • $75 per month + $9.74 direct billing fee. For example, students studying for 5 months will pay $384.74.
  • If the duration of your research is longer than six months, your fees will be:
    • $225 for the first three months + $9.74 direct billing fee. Students should apply for BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) immediately upon your arrival
  • Most students’ research dates are not aligned with UBC’s academic terms, therefore most students will need to request to have their coverage dates updated. This is normal. Complete and submit the iMED Date Change Form after arriving in Canada.

Withdrawal or Extension:

  • Refund of the VIRS program fee can be given if a VIRS applicant’s withdrawal is due to either rejection of legitimate immigration document application or rejection of research funding application (i.e. government/institution grants/scholarships/awards).
  • If you would like to extend your VIRS registration, please contact Go Global. The fee must be renewed after one year, should the VIRS student wish to extend their research period. If your extension increases the total length of your stay at UBC to more than 12 months, you will be charged the fee.

Student status

Depending on the student’s academic level at his/her home institution, a VIRS will be registered in VURS 499 (Undergraduate) or VGRS 599 (Graduate), a non-credit, non-tuition bearing course code which denotes full-time engagement in academic research.

A VIRS will have access to the UBC Library, email services, Go Global services, and, on an urgent need basis, health/counseling services. Use of other services and facilities include but are not limited to areas such as athletics. Transcripts can be accessed on a fee paying basis, as available.

  • A VIRS will be registered at UBC for all UBC academic terms that overlap with the length of their planned visit.
  • A VIRS may not enroll in any UBC courses, but may apply during their stay to be admitted as a Visiting Undergraduate or Visiting Graduate Student, should they wish to enroll in courses while conducting research.
  • The maximum length of proposed research period that a VIRS can be approved for is one year (12 months). At the end of the approved visit period, the student may request an extension for up to one year.


When emailing us, include the following information in the email:

  • Your student number in the subject line
  • Your name

If inquiring about study permits, please be sure to include:

  • Your citizenship(s)
  • All permit and visa expiration dates (if applicable)
  • Currently in Canada (YES or NO)
  • If you request specific assistance, provide detailed information including applicable documents, such as a rejection letter

VIRS Advisors
VIRS contact email:​
UNC 227 – 3272 University Way
Kelowna, BC Canada V1V 1V7