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Visiting Graduate Students (Research Only)

As of October 13th, 2017 ..... 

Western International is pleased to announce the launch of a new website for International Visiting Research Only (VRO) Students. VRO students are students who wish to conduct research (only) on campus under the supervision of a host faculty member for the purpose of the student’s independent research project or for a collaborative research project. 

All documents that are issued to a VRO student to support their visa application must first be reviewed and confirmed by Western International to ensure that they are in compliance with immigration regulations/policy. It is recommended that VRO students and their host supervisors at Western University start this process at least 2-3 months prior to the anticipated start date of the research term.   

If you are interested in hosting an international VRO student, please visit our website below for further information and the steps to take, as well as templates and resources. Prospective VRO students may also be directed to this site for clarification.  Western International > Visiting Scholars > Visiting Research Only (VRO) Students 

Questions regarding the VRO guidelines and process may be directed to



Prior to October 13th, 2017, the following policies and procedures were used .....

Western University has developed new guidelines for the intake of Visiting Foreign Research Students.

In the past, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) was fairly flexible in allowing Visiting Research Students to enter Canada.

However, the introduction of the International Mobility Program (IMP) has led to greater monitoring and strict attention to program criteria.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada considers research placements as work, irrespective of whether the research placement is paid or unpaid. For that reason, Visiting Research Students must have authorization to work in Canada.

In order to be authorized to work on campus without a work permit, it is necessary to be enrolled as a Full-Time Student and to have a valid Study Permit. 

Western University now enrolls all Visiting Research Students as Full-Time students through the Visiting Undergraduate Student (Research Only) Plan and the Visiting Graduate Student (Research Only) Plan.

Therefore, effectively immediately, all new Visiting Research Students must:

(1.) Register at Western University   AND   (2.) Apply for a Study Permit

Please see the information below for instructions on registering new Visiting Research Students.

To invite a Visiting Research Student to Western, the following is required:

Step 1: Registration at Western

The student and department must complete and sign, as relevant, either:

The Visiting Undergraduate Student (Research Only) Plan, or The Visiting Graduate Student (Research Only) Plan

1. The student must provide the supervisor/department with a letter from their home university approving the arrangement and indicating the duration.

2. The department must prepare a letter of approval/invitation, using the template letter provided on the website of:
(a) For Visiting Undergraduate Students: the Office of the Registrar
(b) For Visiting Graduate Students: the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

3. The department must submit the Plan, both approval letters (and if applicable, the $150 registration fee*) to Student Central, Rm 1120 Western Student Services Building.

The $150 registration fee is automatically billed to the student’s account. If the supervisor/department will cover the payment of the fee, they can the notify the student in the template department letter.  

4. The Office of the Registrar and the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, as applicable, will register the students at Western University and will issue an official Letter of Acceptance.

The supervisor/department should ensure that the Letter of Acceptance is forwarded to the student.

Students cannot apply for a Study Permit until they receive the official Letter of Acceptance.

If you have questions regarding the registration of Visiting Research Students or the issuance of the Letter of Acceptance, please contact Rob Downes, at, or 519 - 661- 2111 (ext. 84567).

Step 2: The Student Applies for a Study Permit

Refer all new Visiting Research Students to Western University’s Application Guidelines which outline the steps to apply for a Study Permit

Citizenship and Immigration Canada requires a ‘Letter of Acceptance’ as part of the Study Permit application package.

It is imperative that students submit ONLY the official Western Letter of Acceptance (i.e. issued by the Office of the Registrar).

When students apply for the Study Permit, they should NOT submit the department’s invitation/approval letter or the letter from their home institution.  This is to avoid possible confusion at the Visa Office regarding the students’ status. This is particularly important given that letters issued by foreign educational institutions may refer to Visiting Research Students as “interns” or “workers” and this terminology will create confusion.

**If for any reason, a specific Visa Office informs a student that they must apply for a work permit, please immediately contact the International and Exchange Student Centre ( Western University will need to assess whether the student is eligible for a work permit, as there are a limited number of work permit options.

Effective from February 2015, CIC requires employers to submit an Employer Form IMM5802 and pay a $230 compliance fee to CIC before the prospective worker can submit an application for a work permit. For that reason, it is not possible for a student to apply for a work permit without Western’s assessment of their eligibility and the department’s commitment to provide the funding for this fee. In view of these requirements, work permit applications should be the rare exception (i.e. only where a Visa Office insists that a work permit application is required).

Step 3: Authorization to Begin the Research Placement

Visiting Research Students cannot begin their research placement on campus at Western until they obtain a Study Permit. The study permit approval letter (also known as a letter of introduction) issued by a Visa Office is not sufficient; it does not provide authorization to begin work.