Changes are coming to this website. Learn more ➜

International Visiting Graduate Students (IVGS)

Graduate students from around the world are welcome to enhance their research opportunities at the University of Waterloo, by participating in the International Visiting Graduate Student (IVGS) program.

Through the program, students pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees on a full-time basis at an international institution are invited to continue their related research, under the guidance of a supervising Waterloo faculty member.  International students benefit by collaborating with Waterloo’s top innovative researchers, gaining access to state of the art facilities, libraries and other campus resources.  Through international collaboration, visiting students enrich their academic and scholarly development, often making beneficial research contributions to both their home and host institutions.

International Visiting Graduate Students (IVGS) are essential to advancing connections with outstanding academic institutions world-wide. Building mutually beneficial international partnerships, expanding graduate student experience, and accomplishing impactful research.

If you are applying for the IVGS program, we encourage you to begin your visit at the start of an academic term if possible (winter term - January to April; spring term - May to August; fall term - September to December). In addition, it is recommended that the approval process begin at least 4 to 5 months before the intended start date of the visit.

Step 1: Determine your eligibility

In order to be an International Visiting Graduate Student, you must:

  • Be actively pursuing a full-time master’s or doctoral degree program at a university outside of Canada for the duration of the placement at Waterloo (diploma, certificate programs are not eligible).
  • Be in good standing at your home university.
  • Be an international student (i.e. not have Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status) who is eligible to enter Canada.
  • Review Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) processing times to ensure that you apply early enough to secure the appropriate immigration permission to enter Canada (work permit, electronic travel authorization or other immigration permission) as issued by IRCC from a Canadian visa office serving your country of residence.
  • Intend on pursuing research that is related to your home institution graduate degree program while at Waterloo.
  • Have received permission from your home institution to conduct research at Waterloo.
  • Have received a written offer from a Waterloo faculty member who has agreed to serve as your supervisor for the duration of your visit.
  • Have adequate funding for the duration of your visit.
    • ​​​​​see scholarship opportunities that you may be eligible for.
  • Intend to visit for a period of 3 weeks to 24 months (the total cumulative visit is not to exceed a maximum of 24 months).  IVGS may be given a one-time opportunity to extend the visit if approved, and depending on visa restrictions.
  • Review the IVGS terms of visit.

Step 2: Find a supervisor and obtain a Letter of Invitation (LOI)

We encourage you to begin your visit at the start of an academic term if possible (winter term - January to April; spring term - May to August; fall term - September to December).  

  • A request to participate in the IVGS program may be initiated by a faculty member or student.  
  • Identify a potential supervisor at Waterloo that closely pairs with your area of research and academic background.
  • Prepare and submit a clear objective for your visit, including a timeline, research plan, list of required resources and expectations of your host supervisor.
  • The prospective supervisor will assess your eligibility to determine if you qualify as a prospective IVGS through discussion with your home supervisor and yourself.  It is the responsibility of the Waterloo supervisor to evaluate your level of English language skills and academic research background.  Additional information may be requested by the host supervisor (i.e. CV).

Once a Waterloo faculty member has agreed to serve as your host supervisor, approval for the arrangements of your visit may begin.

  • A formal Letter of Invitation (LOI) will be issued and signed by the Waterloo supervisor confirming their willingness to supervise and outlining terms of the visit, including start and end dates, purpose of visit, access to equipment, supplies, research ethics and space, and intellectual property rights etc.  The Waterloo supervisor or delegate will then make arrangements to obtain the approval on the LOI of the department chair of the host academic unit.

  • The LOI is forwarded to you for mutual approval and agreement of the terms of the visit. The letter must be counter-signed by you, your home supervisor and the department head/chair/director of your home university.
  • The LOI must accompany the International Visiting Graduate Student Form A: Student Request form (see Step 3 below).

Step 3: Submit the IVGS approval documents

  • Complete the International Visiting Graduate Student (IVGS) Form A: Student Request  and have it signed by the required parties of your home university as indicated.
  • Attach a signed copy of your Letter of Invitation (LOI).
  • Include official proof of sponsorship/scholarship (if in a language other than English, provide a certified English translation).
  • Send all documents as PDF attachments via email to your Waterloo host supervisor or delegate.
  • The Waterloo host supervisor or delegate will make arrangements to obtain approval of the host department Chair.
  • These will then be forwarded to Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) for review and final approval. 

Step 4: Apply online

Once all completed and fully signed documents have been submitted to the host supervisor, you are required to apply online. A non-refundable application fee of $125 CAD is required as part of the application process.

To help walk you through the steps in applying to the International Visiting Graduate Student (IVGS) program review the apply online instructions. Following the submission of your online application, follow these steps:

  • Create your Waterloo student account (Quest)
  • Upload your application documents to the University of Waterloo through Quest:
    • A copy of your Letter of Invitation with all signatures present
    • A copy of your sponsorship/scholarship letter
    • Complete the Supplementary Information Form (SIF)​​​​​

Before proceeding, note that you will be using the University of Waterloo online application to graduate studies; not all sections/questions apply to International Visiting Graduate Students.  To ensure that the completion of your online application is successful, take the following actions within the application process:

Application Section

Action to be taken

Select Your Programs

  • choose Graduate Studies - International Visiting Graduate Student and then International Visiting Graduate Student
Expected date of Enrolment
  • Waterloo has three academic terms per year which are identified as, winter (January 1 to April 30); spring (May 1 to August 31) and fall (September 1 to December 31)
  • A term is defined as four months
  • if the term in which you are planning your visit is no longer available, then select the earliest term available.  The actual dates for your visit will be adjusted once your application has been submitted

Personal and contact information

  • complete the applicable information

Other Information

  • complete the applicable information
Academic Background
  • complete the applicable information

Test Scores (English proficiency, GMAT, GRE etc.)

  • IVGS are not required to provide test scores (no action required)


  • IVGS are not required to provide Referees (no action required)

Step 5: Final IVGS approval

  • Final approval for the IVGS program will only be considered if the IVGS Form A: Student Request form, sponsorship/scholarship (if applicable), Letter of Invitation, and the online application/payment have been completed and received.
  • If approved, an official Letter of Acceptance will be issued by Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA). GSPA will communicate notification of approval of the IVGS program to you and the Waterloo host supervisor.
  • Once you have received notification of approval, you will need to accept your offer of admission in Quest (see Step 6 below). It takes approximately 2 business days for your offer of admission to appear on Quest.
  • The Letter of Acceptance is required to apply for immigration to enter Canada. Immigration is not guaranteed.  If you are not eligible to enter Canada, you will not be eligible for the IVGS program.
  • Any changes to the start and/or end dates of your visit must be reported to the host Waterloo supervisor/department. This will permit alternate arrangements to be made for your visit and ensure that a Letter of Acceptance with revised dates has been reissued for immigration purposes.

Step 6: Letter of Acceptance (LOA)

To view your LOA and accept your offer of admission follow these steps:

  • Log in to Quest.
  • Your active application will be listed under Admissions
  • Select your Program Name.
  • Your current program status will be listed under Status and Offer.
  • Select "View Letter" to view your Letter of Acceptance.
  • After reviewing your Letter of Acceptance, please accept (or decline) your offer in Quest.
  • Visit Quest graduate applicants page for information on how to accept or decline your offer.

You can view and print the electronic letter of acceptance on Quest. Note that a paper letter of acceptance will not be sent.

Step 7: Before arrival checklist

Task Action

Find a place to live

On-Campus Housing

On-Campus housing may be available by contacting United College.  United College offers various accommodation styles for graduate students, post-graduate scholars, visiting professors, and upper-year students in their Grad Apartments Building.

Off-Campus Housing

The Off-Campus Housing rental listing options can help you find a place to live during your stay.

Explore the Region of Waterloo

The Region of Waterloo is a mid-sized community offering the amenities of a large urban centre, while maintaining the charm and character of a smaller rural community. Explore all three cities in the Region:

  • Waterloo is a safe and vibrant city with a population of 154,000. For more information, visit the City of Waterloo website.
  • Kitchener is the Region’s largest city and is home to many start-ups and small businesses driving a culture of innovation. Visit the City of Kitchener website to learn more.
  • Cambridge has a rich cultural history and offers a live theatre, museums and Canada’s longest continually operating farmers’ market. Learn more the City of Cambridge website.
Explore Waterloo campus

Familiarize yourself with campus by taking a 30-minute Graduate Student Self-Guided Tour

Step 8: Arrival to campus



Connect with your supervisor

Make arrangements to meet with your Waterloo host supervisor who will discuss provisions made for access to resources necessary for your research; provide instruction on relevant safety training, guide you through research ethics and protocols, intellectual property rights and Waterloo rules, regulations and policies.  Your host supervisor will assist you to participate in the research life of the department.   

Let us know you have arrived

Inform GSPA of arrival to campus by emailing with your full name, confirming that you are on campus as part of the IVGS program.

Immigration documents

Provide GSPA with a copy of your immigration permission that you entered Canada with issued by IRCC (i.e. work permit, eTA etc.) by emailing

Enrol in a Health Insurance Plan:

You are required to enrol in health insurance – either the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) or the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) – as soon as you arrive on campus. Eligibility for OHIP and UHIP differs. You are responsible to know which plan you are eligible for.

  • If your placement requires a total stay of 6 months or more in Ontario, you may be eligible for OHIP. To apply for OHIP, you must attend a local Service Ontario office.
  • If you do not meet the eligibility for OHIP, you are required to apply for UHIP. Appointments to obtain and purchase UHIP coverage can be arranged through the Human Resources department.  UHIP premiums are assessed and are pro-rated based on the duration of the visit by the Human Resources department. 

International Visiting Graduate Students interested in purchasing supplemental health and dental coverage should consult private providers. There are several insurance providers in Canada that offer supplemental health and dental coverage for individuals. Some examples include: Blue Cross, Canada Life, Green Shield Canada, Manulife and Sun Life Financial. We encourage you to research which option works best for you so that you are sufficiently covered while living in Canada (compare different plans, understand the coverage details, consider your specific needs, and evaluate the cost-benefit ratio). 

Update your mailing address

Provide a Canadian mailing address.  This can be updated in Quest under Personal Information (remember to change the country code to Canada).

Pick up your WatCard

Visit the WatCard office where you will be issued a Waterloo identification card as a visiting researcher.

Canadian Bank Account

Consider opening a Canadian bank account while in Canada.  Find out more by reviewing the International Student Guide. If you will receive payments from the University of Waterloo during your research placement, you must open a Canadian bank account once in Canada.

Waterloo Libraries

Visit the Library for information for visiting scholars.

Transportation and parking options

Public transit:

Grand River Transit (GRT) is our local bus service and includes the ION light rail.  Learn more about fares & passes and where to buy them.

Walking and Cycling:

Waterloo’s South Campus is located along the Laurel Trail, and is in a great location for many cycling and walking routes. The Bike Centre on campus also offers a “do-it-yourself” bike repair shop.

Social Insurance Number

If you are receiving payment from Waterloo, you will need to apply for a Social Insurance Number. Visit Service Canada for more information.

Athletics and Recreation

To access facilities offered through Athletics and Recreation at Waterloo, you will need to purchase a membership.


Terms of visit

International Visiting Graduate Students:

  • Are not assessed tuition while enrolled in the IVGS program.
  • Are required to understand and abide by all Waterloo policies, regulations, rules and procedures including behaviour, health and safety, research ethics/policies and protocols, and intellectual property.
  • Are required to obtain/maintain health insurance coverage through the purchase and enrolment in the mandatory University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) for the duration of the visit.
  • Are required to maintain the validity of their Canadian immigration status for the duration of their visit.
  • Are required to be pursuing research related to their home institution graduate degree program as their primary activity while at the University of Waterloo.
  • Are not permitted to enrol in course(s) regardless if taken for credit or audit. IVGS who wish to enrol in courses for transfer to their home institution/program should use the regular application and admission process. IVGS may attend and participate informally in a class with the permission of the course instructor.  Access to the course will require that IVGS have received written consent from the Waterloo host supervisor.  There is no guarantee that the course instructor will allow access to the course.  The assignment of a grade, transcript or letter of completion will not be issued for informal participation in a course.
  • Are required to understand that their IVGS placement may be terminated at any time with written notice by University of Waterloo, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.