Student Direct Stream (SDS Canada)

What is the SDS program for Canada?

IRCC, Canada has launched the Student Direct Stream (SDS) program in India on 8th June 2018 to provide more eligible Indian students with the opportunity to study at a Canadian post-secondary institution (Universities and Polytechnics) and for the faster student visa application processing time. SDS (Student Direct Stream) is a student permit facilitation program which will offer faster and simpler visa processing to international students.

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 (reading, writing, listening, and speaking)
  • Both IELTS Academic and IELTS General test scores are accepted for the SDS Category. For the non-SDS applicants, only IELTS Academic, TOEFL iBT and PTE Academic test scores will be accepted. (Important Update on 30th Oct 2020)
  • 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,

COVID-19 Pandemic Latest Updates related to the SDS Canada (Student Direct Stream) program for Indian Students (1st September 2020)

Any changes in Canadian Student visa requirements for Indian students due to COVID-19 Pandemic?

Except accepting IELTS General, There are no changes in the requirements of both the study permit categories. This means that if you are applying through SDS Category, you should fulfil the requirements of SDS including IELTS Score. If you don’t fulfil any requirement of the SDS Category, your application will be processed as a NON-SDS (General category). Moreover, online English language tests like Duolingo, IELTS indicators etc are not accepted by IRCC.


Can a student get a student visa now and Travel? What is Possible and what is not possible at the current stage?

Right now, In-general student visa holders are allowed to travel. Now Canada is opening its boundaries for those students who have a study permit or are travelling for a non-optional purpose to Canada. If you wish to travel to Canada, you must be a student at one of the DLIs they have included in their COVID Ready institute list. If your college is on the covid ready list you can travel anytime for sept students irrespective of the mode of delivery (3 weeks prior before the class start date for Jan intake students). No POE is needed if your DLI is on the list. carry your loa, quarantine package list (or ur quarantine plans), passport and visa. DLI list will be updated every 2 weeks (sometimes it may update before the 2 week time). 

Your visa will be in a deactivated state if your college is not on the covid ready list (those who have visas). All the student visa applications will be on hold if the said DLI is not yet on the covid ready list. only those application who’s DLI’s are on the list will be prioritised and also advances to 2nd stage.

Please read our blog for the covid ready Canadian colleges list and all other useful details.

As of 1st November 2020, Majority of VACs (VFS India for Canada) are closed. VFS will open stage-wise. Right now Delhi VFS is open for accepting passports. There is no date on VFS yet discussions are going on, Probably may open on any date in the month of November 2020. Therefore Stamping of Visa on Passport and Biometric collection is not possible yet. When VFSs will open then they will prioritise who has to give biometrics first. No PPR’s will be issued without biometrics. Passport requests will be sent to students who’s DLI is on the covid ready list.


Please share Eligibility for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program? Will I get a Post-Graduation Work Permit if I study online from India?

You will still be eligible for a post-graduation work permit, even though you are not able to/allowed to travel to Canada at this time due to travel limitations and

  1. you have a study permit
  2. you have been approved for a study permit
  3. you applied for a study permit before beginning your studies in spring, summer or fall 2020 semesters, or
  4. you will apply for a study permit before beginning your study program in the January 2021 semester
  5. you will graduate from a DLI with PGWPP-eligible program

If you’re in this situation, you can start your classes even when you are not in Canada and

  • complete your program fully online if (1) your program is between 8 and 12 months in length, and (2) you started your studies between May and September 2020 – If you have completed 1 full year online you are still eligible for PGWP (for 1-year programs)
  • complete up to half of your program online (until April 30, 2021) if you complete the other 50% of your program in Canada
  • complete half of your studies online (until April 30, 2021) if (1) you’ll graduate from two separate eligible study programs within 2 years of each other (2) One of the programs started between May and September 2020 (3) each program is at least 8 months long, and (4) you complete at least half of the combined length of the programs in Canada

If you apply for your study permit prior to beginning your program, any time spent studying online from outside Canada since spring 2020 now counts toward the length of a post-graduation work permit. (Before, only the time spent studying online after you were approved for a study permit counted.)

You won’t have time reduced from the duration of your post-graduation work permit for studies you finished outside Canada (online) until April 30, 2021.


What are the Pros and Cons of Study online? Should I opt for online study OR Should I wait?

To be honest, this depends on many factors including your choice and how much time it takes to come to a better situation in India and Canada from COVID-19 perspective. 

The situation in Canada is much better now but still, the situation in India is not good as the number of Corona positive cases are still coming up. The Canadian government may wait until risk due to COVID Pandemic decrease due to flattening of the curve in India OR Vaccination. This is very much uncertain. 

Scenario 1: If you are more interested in attending In-person classes in Canada and want some certainty then you should just get the offer letters and then wait for the improvement of the Pandemic situation. However, having an offer letter early may be useful as there will be a rush once the situation is improving and it will be extremely difficult to get seats/places in popular institutes. If the Pandemic situation doesn’t improve, you may defer the offer letter without any hassle or financial loss.

Scenario 2: If you don’t want to waste your time and don’t have a problem in online education then you should start your process as early as possible because there are more chances of getting admission into your dream college/university in the field/area of your choice. For example, before Pandemic, seats/places in popular institutes in Toronto and Vancouver got filled almost 6-month in advance. However, due to pandemic, seats/places are available in these popular institutes. In this scenario, you should process for fees payment and student visa application earliest to avoid the rush later.

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

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

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