Self-Funded Academic Researcher

All of the following criteria must be met in order to proceed.
If all criteria are NOT met, or should you have any questions or concerns, please contact

  • Visiting Research Only (VRO) Students general criteria - outlined on Visiting Research Only Students main page as well as:
  • The research term is for less than 6 months
  • The student is conducting independent research or doing research training for the student's thesis or dissertation at their home institution on a complimentary research topic
  • Funding to cover travel, living expenses, and any ancillary fees are from the student's personal account or from an organization/institution abroad by way of a scholarship
  • The student is not receiving any funding, compensation, scholarship or stipend from Western*

Note: Independent research includes observing research techniques, use of library resources, meeting with other researchers and professors on campus to discuss shared or complimentary research issues and topics, planning of a research project, or use of Western's research equipment/materials for personal use or training. Any participation in an ongoing research project at Western University is incidental to the primary purpose of the visit (independent research for the student's thesis back home).

* If you wish to provide a stipend, remuneration, or any form of compensation (e.g. accommodation/residence, travel expense) to the VRO student, please contact Western International ( to assess whether another immigration category may be suitable for your VRO student.

Steps for Self-Funded Academic Researcher (Visitor Status)

Step 1: Collect the documents required from the student

The student must complete and sign the VRO Plan Form, and return it to the host supervisor along with their home institution letter (please see page 1 of the form for the information needed in the home institution letter).
VUGS (Research Only) Plan Form for Visiting Undergraduate Students (VUGS)
VGS (Research Only) Plan Form for Visiting Graduate Students (VGS)

Step 2: Prepare the invitation letter to support a Self-Funded Academic Researcher for visitor status and the VGS Supervisor Information and Declaration Form (if applicable)

Template invitation letter for SFAR (MS Word)

Is your student a Visiting Graduate Student (VGS)? The VGS Supervisor Declaration Form must be signed by the VRO student's host supervisor to confirm their SGPS membership and to acknowledge their responsibilities as a supervisor.

VGS Supervisor Declaration Form

Step 3: Have the Department Chair or Graduate Chair (as applicable) sign the VRO (Research Only) Plan Form that was provided by the student, AND the invitation letter

Step 4: Forward all documents to Western International

Email completed and signed documents to

Be sure to include the VRO Fee Authorization form if you are paying the $200.00 administration fee on behalf of the VRO student. Please note however, supervisors are not permitted to use speed codes that draw from external funds (e.g. tri-council grants) to pay for administrative fees. 

  VRO Fee Authorization

Western International will assess the application and process fees in cooperation with the Office of the Registrar. The Office of the Registrar will provide the student with a Visiting Research Student Registration Information form by email. You will be copied!

Step 5: Wait for confirmation of your assessment

Western International will advise if revisions are required or if you may proceed to forward the invitation letter to the VRO student.

Step 6: Provide documents and instructions to the VRO Student

Only forward the invitation letter to the VRO student. The student does not require the VRO (Research Only) Plan form or the VRO Fee Authorization form. These forms are internal documents only.

Step 7: VRO Student to apply for a Visitor Visa or Electronic Travel Authorization ( eTA)

Instructions on how to apply for the immigration document are provided in the template invitation letters.

Only students who are nationals of visa-exempt countries may apply for the eTA from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC):

All other students require a visa to enter Canada and must apply for a visitor visa (Temporary Resident Visa):  

Students should not apply for both an eTA and visitor visa. Depending on their country of nationality, they will apply for one or the other.

Students will have to provide the following supporting documents with their visitor visa application, or upon entry (for eTA nationals), as outlined in the letter of invitation:
1. Letter of invitation
2. Home institution letter confirming enrollment/registration and approving research stay in Canada
3. Proof of funds for stay in Canada (travel and accommodations) such as a personal bank statement or funding confirmation from an institution/organization abroad
4. Proof of ties to country of residence (immigration status, studies, employment, family, previous international travel history, etc)

Students who have questions or concerns about the visitor visa or eTA process, or who are being directed to apply for a work permit by a Visa Application Centre (VAC), should contact for further advice before formally submitting their application for visitor status.

If your VRO student is refused their visitor visa or eTA, please notify

If your VRO student does not arrive by the start date indicated in your invitation letter, please let Western International know as soon as possible so that records and UHIP fees can be adjusted.

Step 8: Welcome your VRO Student to campus

Visiting GRADUATE Students (VGS) will be term-activated upon arrival to campus.  They must immediately present themselves in-person to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) to confirm their arrival and provide their Visitor Record or proof of date of entry information (entry stamp in the passport and/or boarding pass). 

Visiting UNDERGRADUATE Students (VUGS) will be term- activated based on the anticipated arrival date. The Registrar's Office may contact the host supervisor about one month into the term to confirm that your VUGS has arrived. 
It is your responsibility to ensure that your VRO student receives proper orientation as well as health and safety training through OWL.

Please also remind your VRO student to pay the fees for the administration fee, Western One ID Card, and UHIP through their Student Centre account within 30 days of arrival to campus. The Office of the Registrar would have already emailed the VRO student their registration information including Western Student ID and pin code for Student Centre. The VRO student should pay their fees similar to the way tuition and ancillary fees are paid.

If the anticipated arrival date or end date changes, please notify Western International at immediately so that Records and UHIP fees can be adjusted accordingly. 

VRO students who are recipients of Global Affairs or department/faculty research awards will receive funding through their Student Centre account. Funding is credited to the account. Any fees and UHIP charges are deducted and the balance remaining, if any, will be issued to the student by cheque shortly after arrival in Canada.


Self-Funded Academic Researchers are welcome to access the services offered by the International and Exchange Student Centre (IESC) at Western International.