Visiting International Research Students (VIRS)


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.The VIRS program provides admission to UBC for international students conducting full-time research at UBC. The student is under the supervision of a UBC faculty member. Since 2014, UBC has welcomed over 2500 VIRS students from over 650 universities and 85 different countries. The VIRS program is managed by Go Global under the Office of the Vice Provost, International. 

While registered as full-time students at UBC, VIRS students may not enroll in academic courses for credit, or 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. Learn more about the VIRS application process.

Eligibility requirements

Students must meet all of the following requirements for admission:

  1. You must be classified as an international student, meaning that you do not have Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status 
  2. You must be 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 recognized bridging programs are the Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) and Mitacs Globalink. Contact Go Global for questions about other bridging programs.
  3. You must maintain enrolment at your home university for the duration of your stay at UBC
  4. You must intend to come to UBC for 1 to 12 months for the primary purpose of research related to your academic program at your home university
  5. You must have no intention to enter into an employment relationship with the university related to the research
  6. You must obtain the approval for research activities at UBC by obtaining signatures from:
    1. Host supervisor (i.e. a UBC faculty member who has agreed to act as supervisor through the proposed research period at UBC),
    2. UBC Department Head for the unit or laboratory with which the visiting research student will be affiliated,
    3. Home university or sponsoring program,
    4. Supervisor from home institution.

English language and academic qualifications

There is no specific English-language proficiency requirement, or an academic grade point average requirement, for admission through VIRS. It is the responsibility of the UBC host professor and department to determine VIRS applicants’ qualifications to undertake the research. Go Global will review students’ applications for basic eligibility, and admit eligible students to the university.

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Getting a UBC supervisor as a VIRS student

It is the responsibility of an individual applicant to identify, contact, and obtain approval from a UBC faculty member who will be their VIRS supervisor. Identify a potential supervisor who best matches your research interests and academic background.

UBC's Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website hosts a database of UBC professors and their research interests who are available to host Visiting International Research Students.

Search through faculties offered at UBC to help identify your potential supervisor.

Joint Doctoral Research Scholar Designation

If you are a VIRS applicant who is registered in a PhD program at a recognized institution, you may be eligible for the Joint Doctoral Research Scholar designation. To qualify for this designation at UBC, students must:

  • Be registered in a PhD program at a recognized institution or at UBC
  • Be registered at UBC as a Visiting Graduate Student or Visiting International Research Student, if not already a registered PhD student at UBC
  • Have faculty co-supervisors of their doctoral research program at each university, which are formally approved by the appropriate individual/office at each university

For more information, please visit this page.

Prospective students - is VIRS the right pathway?

VIRS is the approved admission pathway for international students who wish to do research-only activity at UBC. If you meet the eligibility requirements and do not wish to take courses at UBC, consider applying to the VIRS program.

Other pathways outside of VIRS

There may be other pathways for you to take instead of the VIRS program if you wish to do research at UBC.

Learn more about the VIRS Program

VIRS Application for Admission

How to Apply for VIRS

VIRS fees and budget

Required fees for VIRS students

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for VIRS students

Frequently asked questions about coming to UBC Vancouver as a VIRS students

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.

If you have questions

For more information about the VIRS program, email the VIRS Advisor at