Aerial view of campus on the edge of the ocean

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 students conducting research full-time at UBC. The student is under the supervision of a UBC faculty member.

While registered as full-time students at UBC, VIRS students may not enroll in academic courses for credit, nor formally audit courses.

What is Full time?

The student can be either:

  • enrolled in an undergraduate, graduate, or graduate-equivalent program at another international university 
  • a participant in a UBC-recognized “bridging” program.
    • Examples: The Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP) and Mitacs Globalink. Please contact us with respect to other programs. 

The VIRS admission process is rolling and there are no deadlines. We strongly encourage students to submit their applications at least 8 weeks before the intended date of arrival. Learn more about the VIRS application process.


A VIRS student must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Not have Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status
  • Will maintain enrollment in their degree program at their home university for the duration of their stay at UBC OR part of a recognized bridging program as noted above
  • Intend to come to UBC solely for the purpose of research that aligns with their academic program at their home university
  • Plan to engage in research education and conduct research for one month or longer (maximum 12 months)
  • Have no intention to enter into an employment relationship with the university related to the research
  • Obtain the approval for research activities at UBC by obtaining signatures from:
    • Host supervisor (i.e. a UBC faculty member who has agreed to act as supervisor through the proposed research period at UBC)

    • UBC Department Head for the unit or laboratory with which the visiting research student will be affiliated

    • Home university or sponsoring program

    • Supervisor from home institution

Note that there is no specific English-language proficiency requirement, nor 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.

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.

UBC Research Supervisors Database

Faculties and Schools at UBC's Vancouver Campus

Faculties and Schools at UBC's Okanagan Campus

Prospective students - is VIRS the right pathway?

Your program and contacts at UBC will help you decide whether you should plan to come to UBC to do salaried research (as an employee) or whether your research is part of your educational program requirement (as a student). 

VIRS is the pathway for international students who wish to do research-only activity at UBC.

In other scenarios, there are other pathways that may be appropriate:

Application, FAQs + study permits for VIRS

Resources for coming to UBC


Mathew Lyle

Email enquiries + advising appointments

When emailing us, please include your full name and student number in the subject line.

Mathew Lyle

VIRS Advisor

Go Global

Telephone: 604 822 0942

UBC Life Building
1001 - 6138 Student Union Boulevard
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1