Visiting Research Only (VRO) Students

Western International is now able to process some Visiting Research Only (VRO) student applications for those students with funding, who fall under the Research Award Recipients category. 

Self-funded Academic Researchers and Short term (120-day) work permit exemption for researcher categories are not meeting current travel restrictions and exemptions; and therefore will not be processed by our office at this time.

However, it is important to note that although we are able to process VRO student applications, there are some additional considerations to keep in mind before VRO supervisors commit to hosting and supervising a Visiting Research Only student during COVID-19.

COVID-19 is still very much impacting every day life, and it is important to consider the type of research and work environment they can provide for the student while social distancing restrictions are in place. Students may also rely on their supervisors more than usual as it will be more difficult to develop any other systems support, and they may experience isolation and other challenges that can both impact their work with supervisors/research team, and VRO student’s well-being.

Furthermore, COVID-19 continues to impact travel around the world, and travel restrictions can change at any time. Host supervisors who invite a VRO to Canada and to Western, must be prepared to financially support them if their home country doesn’t allow travellers at the time of their research completion. If they are not able to leave Canada, host supervisor must be ready to support them until they are able to leave the country.

Western University frequently welcomes and hosts visiting research students from all over the world.

 All prospective Visiting Research Only students coming to Western:

  • must be registered at, or affiliated with, a foreign institution outside Canada as a student
  • must have paid tuition and be in good standing at their home institution
  • are not permitted to take courses, and not be charged tuition fees by Western University
  • are responsible for paying the following fees which will be billed to his/her Western Student account:
    • $200.00 administrative fee that registers the student with the Office of the Registrar and gives the student access to the library, etc.
    • $52.00 per month for University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP)
    • $32.00 for a Western student identification card

Please note that because tuition and ancillary fees do not apply, VRO students are not eligible for a Western Campus Recreation membership or an LTC bus pass through the USC or SOGS. VRO students interested in these services must contact Western Campus Recreation and the London Transit Commission (LTC) privately.

I am an international student wishing to visit Western University to conduct research

Please explore our research areas of excellence and contact the laboratory or department of interest to you to secure a host supervisor. Please note that Western International does not match prospective Visiting Research Only students with host supervisors.

Information about document requirements and fees can be found below. 

I wish to invite an international undergraduate or graduate student to Western

Please explore this website for important information, resources and forms. If you have questions about this process, contact

It is recommended that you start this process at least two (2) months prior to the VRO students anticipated start date to allow time for visa processing.  

I would like to invite a postgraduate researcher to Western

Please contact the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) for postdoctoral fellows, or the Office of Faculty Relations for visiting professors/lecturers and self-funded academic researchers.

Mihaela Harmos, SGPS
Jennifer Holburn, Office of Faculty Relations
Connie Zrini, Office of Faculty Relations

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) considers research activities as “work,” and have clarified that visiting international student scholars conducting research must qualify for employment authorization in order to conduct research only on campus, as either a visiting undergraduate student (VUGS) or a visiting graduate student (VGS).  Visiting Research Only (VRO) students no longer qualify for study permits unless they are the recipient of a Global Affairs Canada award or scholarship.

There are two possible employment authorization streams for VRO students:

Self-funded academic researcher and research award recipient information
Self funded researchers Research Award Recipients

1. Self-funded academic researcher (visitor status)      2. Research award recipient (work permit)

Please note that the existence of an exchange or research collaboration agreement is an important factor to consider when inviting a VRO student to campus. Please advise Western International of same prior to preparing the documents required.


If you have questions about Visiting Research Only students, please contact