Student Direct Stream (SDS Canada)

SDS program Update for Canada

Canada has recently launched the updates for the Student Direct Stream (SDS) program. Published in the Canada Gazette on May 12, 2023, the new Ministerial Instructions provide clear guidelines and eligibility criteria for applicants seeking priority processing.

Eligibility for the Student Direct Stream:
To qualify for priority processing under the SDS program, applicants must meet the following requirements:

1. Residency: Applicants must be legal residents of one of the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, or Vietnam.

2. Documentation: At the time of submitting their study permit application, candidates must provide the following documents:
– An acceptance letter from a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada, as per section 211.1 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).
– Proof of payment for the first year of study tuition at the designated learning institution.
– A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) worth CAN$10,000.
– Completion of a medical examination, in accordance with section 29 of the IRPR.
– Recent secondary or postsecondary school transcripts.
– Language test results meeting the specified criteria.

3. Quebec Applicants: Individuals intending to study in Quebec must also obtain a Québec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) from the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration.

Accepted Language Tests:
To assess language proficiency, the following language tests and corresponding minimum scores are accepted for SDS applications:

1. General Language Tests (approved under subsection 74(3) of the IRPR) Only for the Application Purpose:
– IELTS General, CELPIP General, TEF Canada, and TCF Canada, with a minimum Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) score of 7 in each language ability (speaking, listening, reading, and writing).

2. Academic Language Tests (approved under subsection 74(3) of the IRPR):
– IELTS Academic (minimum score of 6), CAEL (minimum score of 60), Pearson PTE Academic (minimum score of 60), TEF – 5 épreuves (minimum score of 400), and TCF – tout public (minimum score of 400), with results from each language ability.
– TOEFL iBT Test by Educational Testing Service (minimum score of 83), with results from each language ability.

Applicants must note that all language tests must be taken in-person. Remote online tests will not be accepted for the purposes of the SDS program.

Effective Dates and Considerations:
The Ministerial Instructions will take effect tentatively from Aug 10, 2023.

What is the SDS program for Canada?

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is a fast-track study permit processing program open to eligible students from 14 distinct countries. It has more stringent eligibility criteria compared to standard stream applications, but data indicates that students who utilize the SDS benefit from a higher approval rate compared to their non-SDS peers.

What are eligibility requirements for the SDS Canada (Student Direct Stream) program ?

In order to be eligible for SDS Canada,  students will need to:

  • have the minimum-required IELTS level of English language ability of 6.0 in all sections and 5.5 band in one module will be accepted soon after 10th August. (reading, writing, listening, and speaking)
  • IELTS Academic and IELTS General test scores, TOEFL iBT, CAEL and PTE test scores are accepted for the SDS Category (tentatively from Aug 10, 2023)
  • There are currently no online language tests that are acceptable for immigration purposes including study permit. Hence Duolingo, IELTS Indicators etc are not acceptable for SDS as well as Non-SDS Category.
  • purchase of a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of $10,000,
  • have been accepted by an eligible Post secondary Designated Learning Institute (DLI List)
  • tuition payment for the first year of study at a DLI in Canada,
  • All students need to apply online to get a study permit through the SDS Stream. No paper applications under SDS.
  • completion of an upfront medical examination,

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Canadian Student Direct Stream (SDS) for India

What is the latest data on the Student Direct Stream?

The latest SDS data has been released, indicating that encouraging trends have persisted into 2022 and 2023. As India has been responsible for over 96% of all SDS applications since 2019, a two-part series is being initiated to examine these trends, with the first part concentrating solely on India.

What are some key observations for Indian SDS applicants in recent years?

In 2022, the approval rate for Indian SDS applicants was 62%, compared to just 19% for non-SDS applicants. Four out of every five Indian students applied for a Canadian student visa through the SDS program last year. Since the pandemic’s onset, colleges have represented about three-quarters of all Indian SDS applicants.

What are the eligibility criteria for Indian students applying through the SDS program?

SDS eligibility criteria for Indian students include a letter of acceptance from a post-secondary designated learning institution, a valid language test result, a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of at least C$10,000, evidence of full tuition payment for the first year of study, recent educational transcripts, and completion of an upfront medical examination.

What advice does Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) Antonio Aragón have for students considering the SDS program?

Antonio Aragón advises students to do everything possible to meet the SDS’s eligibility requirements. This demonstrates to institutions that the student is at a lower risk of not completing their studies.

What impact does SDS have on approval rates by study level?

Colleges have represented about three out of every four SDS applications since the pandemic, which is also the case for non-SDS applicants. In 2023, Indian students applying to a Canadian college through SDS had a 76% approval rate, compared to 8% for regular stream applicants. While the advantage for SDS applicants to universities is slightly less, it is still significant.

What resources are available to help students meet the SDS requirements?

Recruitment advisors can help students meet their English proficiency requirement with discounted TOEFL and PTE exams. Partnerships with major banks, like the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), offer students an easy way to access the International Student GIC Program for the Proof of Financial Support requirement of the SDS program.

Am I assured a student visa if I choose to apply through SDS?

No, Visa is not assured for any visa category. The SDS Canada visa category provides a streamlined student visa application process and faster processing times but you must have to fulfil all the requirements for a student visa.

Please Share SDS Canada college list 2018

All DLI (designated learning institute) are eligible under SDS Canada Category.

What is a DLI (designated learning institute)? Can I have a list of DLIs?

A DLI is an institute approved by a state / provincial / territorial government to train and host international students. If you plan to apply for Student Visa under SDS, make sure your college is on this list:

Will I get Post-graduation work permit after Study from Any DLI on List?

Not all DLIs make you eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program. The last column of DLI List is the “Offers PGWP-eligible programs”. If you want Post-graduation work permit after Study, Choose the institute with YES in “Offers PGWP-eligible programs” column. you need to meet all other criteria to get a post-graduation work permit.

Are all colleges covered under SDS Canada or only those under SPP? I am accepted by one of the Canadian colleges, do I qualify for SDS?

Under SDS, more colleges and Universities would be eligible. To verify if an institution is included, check the website at

I think I am eligible for the SDS program (Student Direct Stream), however, I am not sure. Can I still apply for my Student Visa?

YES. You can apply for your Student Visa under the SDS program. If however, Department find you are not eligible for the SDS program then they will process your application under the regular Student Visa requirements.

I  have appeared for TOEFL / PTE Exam. Am I eligible to apply under SDS Category?

As per the requirements for the SDS program, TOEFL/PTE scores are not accepted as an eligibility criterion.

Under the SDS Category, What is the processing time for student visa applications?

For SDS Student visa applications, the processing time will be 45 days or less. Processing time of Regular student visa application is 60 days.

I want to apply for a Canadian Student visa, but I want to Pay semester wise Fees to the University. Is it Possible ?

Under SDS, one of the requirement is paying one year fees upfront. However, you can apply through the regular Student Visa application by paying less than 1-year fees.

What is the Deadline for student visa applications under the SDS ?

We strongly advise that you submit your student visa application at least 3 months ahead of your intended date of travel to Canada. Student visa Applications under SDS received after 1 April for May entry, after 1 August for September entry, and after 1 December for January entry may not be processed in time for the start of the course  and may be refused.

Can I still apply for a Student Visa even though I do not qualify to apply under the SDS?

Yes. You can still apply for a Student Visa and will it be processed within the current 60 day service standard.

Can I apply online for the SDS program?

YES. Prospective international students are strongly encouraged to apply for your Student Visa application online to benefit from simpler and efficient processing and communication.

You can apply for your Student Visa here:


According to IRCC guidelines, you will require approximately $10,000 CAD per year to cover your living expenses (Excluding tuition fees). This requirement can be met through the purchase of a participating GIC, and submitting proof of payment. Right now Scotiabank, ICICI Bank Canada, and SBI Canada Bank are the accepted Canadian financial institutions. Please visit their websites to learn more about their services for GIC:


ICICI Bank Canada:

SBI Canada Bank:

IRCC = Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada

What happens to my GIC AND Paid Tuition fees, if my Student Visa application is refused?

You will be able to apply directly to the respective bank that issued your Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) for a full refund. You should contact your university / college for a refund of your tuition fees.

Go through below website links for more information on the same: and


1. *Note:* The terms student visa and study permit are generally used interchangeably for Canadian international students. Canada provides accepted international students with study permits, which allow those students to enroll in classes at Canadian


2. *Source:* All data courtesy of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Note that the latest available data is up to March 15, 2023.
3. *Context:* SDS is for post-secondary studies, hence all data in this article is for college, university, and other studies only.
4. *Clarification:* K-12 has been excluded to better compare the SDS and non-SDS data.

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