Visiting + Incoming Exchange

Graduate Visiting Research Student 

Graduate Visiting Research Students (VRS) are admitted as a full-time student to SFU to foster the exchange of ideas, receive specialized training and participate in research collaboration. Graduate students enrolled as a VRS at Simon Fraser University are eligible to undertake research and receive specialized training under the supervision of a SFU faculty supervisor typically for one term (agreement length may vary). VRS have access to University resources and services including but not limited SFU libraries, labs, email services and ISS services.


Admissions for Graduate Visiting Research Students (VRS) are now open.



To be eligible for admission to SFU as a VRS for Spring 2022, you must:

  • be a Master’s or Doctoral student in good academic standing at your home institution
  • maintain enrolment at your home institution for the duration of your stay at SFU
  • have adequate medical coverage during your stay

English language qualification

While there is no requirement for VRS to submit English language proficiency scores, the SFU faculty supervisor and department are responsible for determining the student’s level of English is sufficient for the proposed research at SFU.

How to Apply

Establish a research agreement

  Once an SFU faculty member agrees to work with you as your host supervisor, your SFU faculty supervisor will need to issue a letter of agreement clearly laying out the agreed terms of your visit. Your host supervisor can download the template.

This template can only be downloaded and completed by an SFU faculty member who has agreed to be your supervisor.

Complete the VRS form

As there are significant waiting times to process visa applications, complete applications should be submitted as soon as possible:

  • an unofficial transcript from your home institution, 
  • confirmation of your student status at your home institution, 
  • a copy of your passport, 
  • proof of self-funding 
  • and an invitation letter (letter of agreement) from your SFU faculty supervisor.
Your application will be processed only after all required documents are received. If the visit is approved, GPS will issue an offer of admission.

These documents should be sent together to the graduate program that the faculty member belongs to. The graduate program will follow up internally within SFU for the necessary review and approvals.

Apply for work permits (if necessary)


Depending on the details of your visit, you may be required to apply for a visa, e.g. study permit and/or Temporary Resident Visa (TRV), or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). Apply for the appropriate immigration documents using page 2 of the Letter of Acceptance. 

Learn more

NOTE: Depending on the length of your stay and your nationality you may be provided an additional letter for your work visa application.  Please contact an International Student Advisor at ISS for advice and support in terms of immigration matters.

Any changes to the start and/or end dates of your visit (e.g. extension, deferral, cancellation and date changes) must be reported to GPS in order to ensure your information is accurate. If you need to extend your stay, please discuss with your faculty supervisor and ask them to inform us by email at so we can confirm the updated dates of your visit.

After admission, register in GRAD 800

  VRS will be registered in GRAD 800, a full-time, non-credit course. Once admitted, please contact Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to request registration in GRAD 800 (which provides access to the SFU library). You can receive your library/ID card 24 hours after you have been enrolled in the course.

Note: You can request your SFU Student ID card online.


Visiting Research Students are admitted to the university with full-time student status for the period of their research studies. VRS should be registered for each term during their period of resesarch.

VRS do not pay tuition, but are expected to pay for their own living expenses during their stay at SFU.

VRS are currently ineligible for the U-Pass.

Self-isolation support

You will be eligible for the CARES program which offers self-isolation support for the mandatory two-week isolation period (with either a room and meals plan or a room alone plan).

Note: you will not be eligible to receive the SFU subsidized rate nor apply for any financial aid to support your self-isolation period.

Learn more about the CARES program

Immigration Application

Conducting research for 120 days or less

Visiting research students may come to Canada under visitor status for which a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) will be required, depending on the country of citizenship.

However, we encourage visiting research students to apply for a study permit or work permit if there is a possibility of extending their stay in Canada — having a valid study or work permit can make the extension process easier.

Conducting research for more than 120 days

Depending on the details of your visit, you may require either a study permit or a work permit.

A work permit is required if you are:

  • Receiving remuneration or a research award specific to this visit (either from SFU or elsewhere), or
  • Performing work for your SFU supervisor, even if unpaid (for example: joining their lab, doing collaborative research, or directly contributing to research projects at SFU).

If you require a work permit, please contact to assess your eligibility and for assistance with the application process.

A study permit may be appropriate if you are:

  • Self-funded (i.e. you are not receiving any award or funding for your visit), and
  • Working solely on your own project (e.g. thesis or dissertation) under the supervision of an SFU faculty member

Visiting duration of six months or less

If your visit will be six months or less in duration, you may study without a study permit. However, we do advise that you apply for a study permit if there is a possibility you will want to extend your stay. A valid study permit along with full-time enrollment in GRAD 800 will also allow you to legally work on campus at SFU during your visit. For details on the study permit application process, visit the International Services for Students (ISS) website.

If you are not sure which permit would be appropriate, please contact an International Student Advisor, Immigration Specialist at for guidance.