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 an SFU Faculty Supervisor. VRS have access to University resources and services including but not limited SFU libraries, labs, email services and International Services for Students (ISS).

Due to evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, please ensure that you monitor the government of Canada website for the most current COVID-19 travel-related information.


To be eligible for admission to SFU as a VRS 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

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 arrangement 


Applicants should start by getting in contact with an SFU Faculty Member and/or Department to create a relationship.

Once an SFU Faculty Supervisor agrees to work with you as your host Supervisor, they will need to draft the invitation letter. The letter will be reviewed for final signatures at Step 3. 

Submission of Application

 Departments will gather and submit the following documents to as soon as possible to avoid delays;

  • Copy of applicant's passport
  • Proof of funding of applicant
  • Draft Invitation Letter
  • VRS Application Form
The application will be processed only after all required documents are received. If admission is approved, Graduate Studies will issue an offer of admission.

Apply for The Appropriate Immigration Document


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

Registration in GRAD 800


VRS will be registered in GRAD 800, a full-time, non-credit course by Graduate Studies.

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.

Fees & Getting Started

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 research.

VRS do not pay a deposit, tuition or application fees but will be charged some ancillary student fees such as the full-term Student Activity Fee. VRS are expected to pay for their own living expenses during their stay at SFU. Getting Started provides general information for all new Graduate students at SFU.

VRS are currently ineligible for the U-Pass.

Medical Insurance.

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).
  • Review the online pamphlet entitled International Mobility Program: Get to Know Your Rights While Working in Canada.

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).

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