How to apply for your initial study permit (VIRS)

If you’re a Visiting International Research Student, follow important steps to apply for your initial study permit.

The information on this page may change

The immigration information on this page has been reviewed and endorsed by Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) or Regulated International Student Immigration Advisors (RISIAs) in compliance with the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations. However, this is not a legal document and information may change without notice. Always refer to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the most up-to-date information.

Things to know before you apply

  • You are applying for a study permit, not a work permit. If you're applying online, in your initial MyCIC questionnaire, indicate that you intend to study.
  • To apply for a study permit online, you need to indicate in the initial MyCIC questionnaire that you plan to study for more than six months, even if you plan to study less than six months, to bypass the automated system. Once you get to the application form, you can indicate your actual period of study.
  • Avoid using the word “internship” when applying for your study permit. You have been accepted as a student at UBC and are applying for a study permit. Study permits also allow you to work on campus during your time as a VIRS student.

Overview of the process

When to apply As soon as possible after receiving your VIRS Letter of Acceptance (up to six months in advance)
Cost $150
Processing time Find your visa office and then check your processing times.
How to apply

You must apply for your study permit outside of Canada before arriving for your VIRS program.

Choose one of the following (generally, online or in person at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) is recommended):

Application form Download and complete the application form.

  • Application for a Study Permit Made Outside of Canada [IMM 1294]

 Supporting Documents

You will need the following supporting documents for your application.

General supporting documents for all students

  • Letter of Acceptance
    Request this letter from the UBC VIRS program
  • Proof of Means of Financial Support
    Get general advice on proving financial support and instructions specific to your visa office on the IRCC website
  • Copy of your passport
    Make sure to include the bio-data page plus all pages with stamps, visas, or markings.
  • Passport-style photo
    • If applying online, you need a high quality digital photo: the digital photo specifications are located in the online ‘help’ function in your MyCIC document checklist
    • If applying on paper or at the VAC, two photos are required and must meet the IRCC specifications
  • Letter of Explanation
    If you are studying for less than six months, we recommend submitting a short letter stating: I would like to apply for a study permit even though my program length is less than six months. I am also interested in working on campus while enrolled as a UBC student. This can be submitted in the ‘optional documents’ section if applying online.

Additional supporting documents specific to your individual situation

Important: Visa office-specific requirements

  • Each visa office has specific requirements for study permit applicants in that country or region. Find the study permit document checklist specific to your visa office, select your country of residence, click "get country-specific documents", and select "visa office instructions".
  • We suggest you submit the documents requested by the online system and all the additional documents as required by your individual office, based on your individual situation to avoid delays or rejection.
  • If applying online, you can merge all the additional visa office-specific documents into one file and upload the file in the "Letter of Explanation" section.

Some students need to provide biometrics (fingerprints and photos). Please complete the online questionnaire to see if you need to provide biometrics. If you need to give biometrics, you will need to visit a Visa Application Centre (VAC) in person.

Medical exam

Some students need to take a medical exam with a “Panel Physician” approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). To see if you need to take a medical exam, check the requirements and the list of "designated countries". 

If you do require a medical exam, you have two options:

  1. Apply for your study permit first and wait for a visa officer to send you a medical exam request, or
  2. Take a medical exam with an approved IRCC panel physician before submitting your study permit application and then include the results in your initial study permit application. If you choose this option it may save you time, especially when you need time to gather all the required documents before submitting your study permit application.
Family Information [IMM 5645]

Some students need to submit this form. Submit only if requested.

“Schedule 1” [IMM 5257]

Submit only if you answer “yes” to one of Questions 3-6 on page 4 of the “Application for a Study Permit Made Outside of Canada” [IMM 1294]

Additional Information

  • Review the IRCC User Guide and IRCC’s advice about getting the right documents.
  • Fill out all application forms electronically on a computer. If you have trouble opening the PDFs, try saving the document onto your desktop and opening it with Adobe software. You can find more trouble-shooting tips. When you finish, press the “Validate” button to ensure your application form is filled out completely. You can still make changes after the application is successfully validated, but remember to validate again. You may edit and validate as many times as needed.
  • Some students also require a temporary resident visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to enter Canada. Use the online questionnaire to find out if you need a TRV to enter Canada. 
  • For students who require a TRV, you do not need to apply for a TRV when you apply for an initial study permit from outside of Canada. If you are approved for a study permit and you require a TRV, you will automatically be issued a TRV. Usually, once your study permit application is approved. IRCC will ask for your passport; you will send your passport to your visa office so they can place a sticker (TRV) on a page of your passport. You can then enter Canada. 
  • For students who require an eTA, you also do not need to apply for this separately. An eTA will be issued if you are approved for a study permit.
  • If your study permit application is approved, IRCC will issue you a Letter of Introduction. You must print this out and present it to the border officer when you enter Canada. At the Canadian border or airport, the officer will then issue your actual study permit (a piece of paper).

Understanding the form

What is a UCI?

UCI stands for “Unique Client Identifier,” also known as “Client ID.” It appears on official documents such as study and work permits. (Example: 0000-0000). If you do not have a UCI, leave this section blank.

What is UBC’s Designated Learning Institution (DLI) number?

UBC’s DLI is O19330231062 (it starts with the alphabet letter O, not zero). As a Designated Learning Institution (DLI), UBC is issued a number, and you may be asked by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to provide the number when you apply for a permit or a visa.

How do I fill out my mailing address?

The “street no.” is the main number on the outside of a building. Some “street names” also contain numbers.

How do I answer “Duration of expected study”?

Write “from” today’s date and “to” the date you plan on completing your studies at UBC as a VIRS student.

How do I answer "Costs of my studies"?

Provide estimates of your VIRS fees, room or board and other living expenses based on one year or the length of your study duration if less than a year. Please see the estimated costs page for exchange.

How do I fill out the "education" section?

Indicate the highest level of studies that you are in or that you have engaged in. If you are currently studying, indicate this program and level of studies along with your start and end dates. If you have past education at the college or university level, you may disclose these in the "employment" section. 

How do I fill out the Employment section?

If you do not have a job, you may write “student.” Be sure to fill out "current" and "previous activity". Include all part-time and full-time jobs as well as any internships, practicum placements or education at the post-secondary level in this section. If there is not enough room on the form for all of your previous work and/or study experience, create a separate Microsoft Word or PDF document with the additional information and upload it in the (optional) "letter of explanation" section.

How can I sign the form if I apply online?

You cannot sign the form if applying online. Upload the form without signing. After uploading all your documents, you will later be asked to electronically sign your application by typing your name.

International Student Guide

Find everything you need to know about life as an international student at UBC's Vancouver campus.

View the guide

If you have questions

International Student Advising is ready to support you on questions related to immigration, health insurance, and life as an international student in Canada.

Connect with an advisor

Other VIRS topics

VIRS Application for Admission

VIRS fees and budget

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for VIRS students

Visiting International Research Students (VIRS)