Visiting International Research Students

Visiting International Research Student (VIRS) COVID-19 Information

Due to the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, new VIRS applications for arrivals in January or February 2022 are not being accepted at this time. For more information click on the topic below which best reflects your situation:

Check with your University of Guelph superior to ensure they are still able to host you and that you are able to conduct your research or training given the current COVID restrictions in Ontario and on-campus at U of G. If yes, you may still come to Guelph as planned, however, you will need to meet all entry requirements set by the Canadian Government. These requirements can change at any time. Canada has been known to ban entry of individuals from countries deemed a high COVID risk. Postponing your visit until after COVID restrictions are relaxed may be advisable in order to ensure the best research or training experience

We are not accepting new VIRS applications for arrivals in January or February 2022. If you wish to apply to arrive after Feb 28, 2022, you may begin the VIRS process but be advised that the unpredictability of the COVID-19 situation means that we may cancel or postpone your proposed arrival if COVID restrictions remain in place. Even if your VIRS application is accepted and processed, do not make any travel plans you cannot easily cancel or change.. 

We are currently in wait-and-see mode for VIRS arrivals in March 2022 and beyond. Be advised that the unpredictability of the COVID-19 situation means that we may cancel or postpone your proposed arrival if COVID restrictions remain in place. Even though your VIRS application has been accepted and processed, do not make any travel plans you cannot easily cancel or change.


As always, students coming to the University of Guelph as a Visiting International Research Student must obtain the appropriate entry permit and abide by all travel restrictions that may be in place including: manditory quarantine, COVID testing requirements etc. at their own cost. More information can be found at and at

VIRS Process and Eligibility

A Visiting International Research Student (VIRS) is registered as a full-time student in their home country and visiting the University of Guelph for a period of one month or more for training, research or other experiential learning activity. These visits are arranged on a collegial basis and contribute to the student completing their research, training or degree requirements at their home University. VIRS activities are not part of any existing formal University of Guelph degree program but are meant to facilitate the collegial sharing of expertise, mentoring and supervision with students from abroad on a short-term visiting basis. VIRS status does not apply to Post-docs, paid employees or non-student visitors such as guest lecturers or sabbatical stays. For a full outline of procedures and responsibilities for the VIRS process see the attached PDF document.


In order to be a Visiting International Research Student, applicants must:

  1. Be registered as a full-time degree-seeking student in good standing at an accredited post-secondary institution outside of Canada (referred to as the Home Institution) at the time of application and during the entirety of their time at the University of Guelph
  2. Have written permission from their home institution and acknowledgement that their proposed activities at the University of Guelph are an integral part of their academic program at home. 
  3. Be visiting for the primary purpose of participating in an experiential learning opportunity (research, field research, training etc.) deemed relevant to their home institution degree.
  4. Have written acknowledgement from a University of Guelph regular graduate faculty member agreeing to act as their academic supervisor for the duration of their stay.
  5. Meet the English language proficiency requirements as set out by the hosting department at the University of Guelph.
  6. Be visiting the University of Guelph for a period of one month to a maximum of one year
  7. Have appropriate funding to cover costs for the duration of their stay and be eligible to enter Canada as per Citizenship and Immigration Canada requirements

Guelph Faculty wishing to invite a Visiting International Research Student to Guelph

Once you have determined that an international student satisfies the eligibility requirements for VIRS status, contact your departmental admin to obtain a template for the VIRS letter of invitation. This letter should be sent to the student and signed back with both the student's and their home institution faculty advisor's signatures indicating they approve of, and accept the terms of, the study period at Guelph. The student can then register for the course "Experiential Learning for Visiting International Research Students" through OpenEd and pay the applicable fees. Details of the process and procedures, including Faculty Supervisor Responsibilities, can be found in the document: "University of Guelph Visiting International Research Student Procedures and Responsibilities" 

International Students Wishing to come to Guelph as Visiting Research Students

You must be enrolled full-time in a degree-seeking program at a University outside of Canada and have confirmation from a University of Guelph faculty member willing to supervise you during your time in Canada before you can register as a VIRS.

Your first step is to locate a willing faculty supervisor and determine a plan for you to study, training or research. This cannot be part of any existing academic program at Guelph and cannot be used as credit toward a formal degree or training program at Guelph. Once you have confirmation from a Guelph faculty member, you will receive a letter of invitation which must be signed by you and your home institution supervisor. You will then receive a link to the VIRS registration page and be required to register, upload a copy of the signed letter of invitation and pay the required fees. For questions about the VIRS process contact the Centre for International Programs at

Please note: When you apply for your visa to come to Canada as a Visting International Research Student, please be clear with immigration officers that you will be a registered student at Guelph pursuing your research as part of your degree requirements at your home insitution. You will not be an employee of the University of Guelph and are not coming to work in Canada. 

You will not be required to pay tuition fees to the University of Guelph but you will be required to pay an application fee of $200 and an additional $85/month for services including manditory health insurance, I.D. card and library access. Fees are payable on a month by month basis regardless of the length of stay or the international research student’s arrival date. Whenever possible, visits should be timed to correspond with the start and end of a month in order to avoid incurring extra fees especially for stays which straddle two months.