Student Direct Stream Canada: Application, Visa, SDS Canada Processing Time

Student Direct Stream Canada: Application, Visa, SDS Canada Processing Time

9 mins read1.1L Views 148 Comments
Raj Vimal
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Jan 24, 2024 18:45 IST

SDS Canada full form is Student Direct Stream Canada. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched the SDS Program in June 2018 to help international students. This made the admission process of Canadian universities easy. This blog covered all the info on this program including the SDS visa, IRCC SDS Canada requirements, etc.

SDS Canada

SDS Canada is popularly known as the Student Direct Stream (SDS). It was introduced by Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to make the Canada study visa process easy and smother for international students. Earlier, the process of getting a student visa of Canada was time taking and complex. Due to the Student Direct Stream Canada, the visa process became smoother and more efficient. Indian students applying to universities of Canada can now expect a faster visa processing time.

The newly launched SDS Canada program is helpful for students of India, from Antigua, Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines, Vietnam, Trinidad and Tobago. The IRCC replaced the long lengthy Student Partners Program (SPP) with a new Student Direct Stream program. In this article, we will cover the entire information about this new study visa program including how to apply, eligibility, required documents, fees and Canada SDS visa processing time.

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What is SDS Canada?

On June 08, 2018, Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada introduced the new Student Direct Stream program. This is helpful for international students who want to study in Canada. Now, they can expect the VISA in less than 20 days. Needless to say, this made the student visa process faster.

How to Apply for SDS?

The application process of the Student Direct Stream program is easy for you if you have basic knowledge of the internet. Below, we have mentioned a step-by-step process to help you understand the application process of SDS.

  1. Visit the official website of IRCC and fill up the IMM 1294 form (Required for everyone)
  2. Upload the scanned copies of your academic and personal documents.
  3. Pay the application fee by using an online payment method. Keep in mind, CAD 150 for the SDS Canada application fee and CAD 85 for the biometrics fee.
  4. You need to provide your photo and fingerprint for biometrics. This step will start after paying the biometrics fee.
  5. Later, you may need to undergo a medical exam.
  6. After background verification, you’ll receive Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) for entry into Canada as an international student.

Before you start the application process for SDS Canada, you must have two things handy.

  1. Scanned copies of your documents.
  2. A working credit/debit card to make the payment.

Related Articles: Difference Between SDS and Non-SDS Colleges in Canada

SDS Canada Visa Eligibility Requirements

The points given below provide the latest information about SDS Canada eligibility for Indian students.

  • Students are supposed to submit their SDS Canada visa applications electronically.
  • Language test results: From August 10, 2023, IRCC SDS requirements with respect to proficiency in language abilities (reading, speaking, listening, and writing) include the following:
    • CAEL: minimum 60 (overall)
    • CELPIP General: equivalent to a CLB 7 (each ability)
    • IELTS Academic: minimum 6 (overall)
    • IELTS General: equivalent CLB 7 (each ability)
    • TCF Canada: equivalent to CLB 7 (each ability)
    • TCF Tout public: minimum 400 (overall)
    • TEF Canada: equivalent to CLB 7 (each ability)
    • TEF 5 épreuves: minimum 400
    • TOEFL iBT: minimum 83 (overall)
    • PTE Academic: minimum 60 (overall)
  • Students must pay full tuition fees for the first year of study.
  • Students must buy a Guaranteed Investment of Certificate (GIC) of $10,000 from any bank insured by the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) or any bank listed on the IRCC SDS website (ICICI Canada and SBI Canada).
  • Colleges and institutions applied by the students must have a registered Designated Learning Institutions (DLI) number.
  • Have a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) from the Ministry of Immigration if you are planning to study in Quebec. 
  • Medical Examination 
  • Police Certificate 
  • Transcripts of the most recent secondary or post-secondary school.
  • Must have an acceptance letter from a post-secondary Designated Learning Institute. 
  • SDS Canada visa application fee of C$150.

Note: Depending upon where you are applying from more documents may be asked from you, In this situation, your application will take a longer time to process.

Documents Required for SDS Canada Visa Application

The points given below provide information about the documents required for SDS Canada application:

  • Copy of your acceptance letter from the DLI.
  • Most recent secondary or post-secondary education academic transcripts.
  • Copy of your upfront medical examination confirmation.
  • Proof of GIC payment of $10,000.
  • An official letter from DLI confirming payment of tuition fee.
  • Proof of English language proficiency.
  • Identity proof.
  • Application for study permit made outside Canada.
  • Family information form (if required).
  • Temporary Resident Visa application form (if required).

Under this new program, all Canadian colleges and Institutions with a registered DLI number will come under SDS. Unlike SPP which allowed international students to apply to only about 45 odd PSI institutions, the SDS now is open to any college and university with a valid DLI number. The visa processing time for SDS student visa applications will be around 20 days. For non-SDS programs, the processing time will be the same as regular processing times which is around 7 weeks.

What is Guaranteed Investment Certificate?

Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) is a short-term investment offered by the banks of Canada. It is mandatory to show the GIC investment proof at the time of the SDS Canada application. In simple words, it is proof that student has an amount in back up to fund their expenses while studying in Canada.

Financial Institutions that offer GICs

The GIC can be obtained from any of the financial institutions listed on the Canadian Deposit Insurance Company Website. Before choosing a financial institution you should make sure the financial institution you choose offers GICs and meets the criteria for Student Direct Stream. Below, we provide a list of financial institutions that meet the criteria for Student Direct Stream:

  • ICICI Bank 
  • SBI Canada Bank 
  • HSBC Canada Bank 
  • Bank of Beijing 
  • Bank of China 
  • RBC Royal Bank 
  • Scotia Bank

Who is not eligible for Student Direct Stream (SDS Canada)

  • If you live in one of the countries mentioned above, you are not eligible for SDS.
  • If you live in another country (even if you are a citizen of one of the countries mentioned above) 
  • If you do not meet the eligibility for faster processing of your visa 

However, you are still allowed to apply through the regular student permit process to study in Canada. 

Advantages of Applying Through SDS

  • Faster visa processing time: SDS applications are normally processed in about 20 calendar days. For faster processing, students are advised to give their biometrics as soon as possible and to meet all the eligibility criteria
  • Less financial documentation. 

Summing Up: Here are the Main Highlights:

  • The entire visa processing time is reduced to around 20 calendar days.
  • Every college and institution having a registered DLI comes under SDS increasing the options for students.
  • GIC payment of $10,000
  • Payment of full tuition for the first year
  • Medical examination.
  • Have an IELTS of 6.0 in each module.
  • The processing fee for SDS Canada visa is CAD 150,

The SDS program seems to be a breather for Indian students who can now hope for a faster visa, more options, and opportunities for jobs and PR. For help with university applications, students seeking to study abroad can contact our Shiksha Study Abroad Counsellors. The comments section below allows candidates to contact us as well.

Also, read:

SDS Colleges in Ontario

SDS Colleges in British Columbia

What is SPP Program?

SPP Colleges in Canada

SDS Canada Visa FAQs

Q. What is SDS Canada?

A. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched the SDS (Student Direct Stream) programme. The programme is created to expedite the processing of study permits for specific overseas students (20 calendar days). It is accessible to certain overseas students from nations like India. It is available for students who wish to study at a DLI (designated learning institution).

Q. What are the requirements for SDS Canada visa?

A. Here are the requirements to qualify for the SDS Canada visa: Resident of a certain country (includes India) + acceptance letter from a DLI + applicant must be living outside of Canada at the time of application + proof of payment of first year tuition fee + Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of C$10,000 + medical examination + police clearance + IELTS score of at least 6.0 in each section + Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) (if applying to a DLI in Quebec).

Q. Is IELTS compulsory for SDS Canada?

A. In order to prove their foreign language proficiency, students may appear for IELTS or Test d’évaluation de français (TEF). However, from August 10, 2023, PTE Academic will also be accepted for Canada SDS applications. Moreover, the PTE Academic exam taken before August 10, 2023, will be considered for a Canada SDS visa if: the scores are not expired and they are submitted after August 10, 2023. In addition to this, when it comes to IELTS, students need to score at least 6.0 in each part of the IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training Module. As for the TEF, students need to score at least 7 on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB).

Q. What are the foreign language requirements for SDS Canada?

A. Here are the foreign language requirements for SDS Canada visa:

  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System): Minimum 6.0 in each section of the IELTS academic or IELTS general training module.
  • Test d’évaluation de français (TEF): TEF score must correspond to at least 7 Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score in all the sections.

From August 10, 2023, SDS Canada requirements with respect to language exams include the following:

  • CAEL: minimum 60 (overall)
  • CELPIP General: equivalent to a CLB 7 (each ability)
  • IELTS Academic: minimum 6 (overall)
  • IELTS General: equivalent CLB 7 (each ability)
  • TCF Canada: equivalent to CLB 7 (each ability)
  • TCF Tout public: minimum 400 (overall)
  • TEF Canada: equivalent to CLB 7 (each ability)
  • TEF 5 épreuves: minimum 400
  • TOEFL iBT: minimum 83 (overall)
  • PTE Academic: minimum 60 (overall)

Q. What is the processing time and application fee for SDS Canada visa?

A. If you meet all the eligibility requirements, it might take up to 20 calendar days for the processing of your SDS Canada visa. You must provide your biometrics and meet the eligibility requirements for faster processing of your application. The application fee for SDS Canada visa is C$150. For payment, the following credit and prepaid cards are accepted: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, and UnionPay. All Visa debit cards are also accepted.

Q. What are the benefits of SDS Canada?

A. Faster processing times—typically within 20 calendar days—are among the advantages of SDS (Student Direct Stream) for qualified overseas students seeking for study permits in Canada. For students from a few countries, this programme serves to simplify the application procedure for a study permit, making it simpler for them to continue their education in Canada. In order to increase their chances of getting the study visa authorised, students participating in the SDS programme must also provide proof of paying their first year's tuition in advance.

Q. What is DLI Canada?

A. DLI Canada stands for Designated Learning Institution in Canada. It is a type of educational institute in Canada, approved by the government to host international students.

About the Author
Written by
Raj Vimal
Study Abroad Expert

Raj Vimal has experience of 7+ years in SEO Content Writing, which includes 5+ years in the Ed-Tech industry. He has written articles about studying abroad, especially in the USA, UK, and other English-speaking coun... Read Full Bio

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Armed with a decade of professional experience, Prayas is a connoisseur of the overseas education industry. He holds a post-graduate diploma in marketing and has the knack for finding ideal study options for student... Read Full Bio

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Hi, I have 6 years of education gap after my B.Tech, is there any universities or colleges accepts for Masters in canada or australia

Reply to shekar reddy nedhuru


Devinder Cheema

10 months ago

Hii, I have two years gap after higher secondary, can I apply for may intake

Reply to Devinder Cheema


Aprant Agarwal

8 months ago

Hello. You may apply to Canada universities. However, make sure to have a valid justification for your academic gaps.


kanam shan

12 months ago

what about Sri Lanka?

Reply to kanam shan


Aprant Agarwal

11 months ago

SDS Canada programme is for the citizens of the following nations: Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam.



a year ago

I completed my UG in the year 2018, and now I am applying for a PGDM course for 2023 in Canada. Do I need to provide any documents to fill my year gap? P.S: I don't have a proper work experience letter and a pay slip for my work experience. Someone, please give me some guidance.

Reply to AbdulRahman


Aprant Agarwal

a year ago

Hi. Make sure that you have met all the eligibility requirements for the course that you are applying for. If your course does not require mandatory work experience, you can justify your gaps in your SOP or Letter of Motivation. Make sure to score well on all the entrance tests in order to compensat




a year ago

For 3 years of study in Canada under SDS do I have to show funds ?? I paid fees and gic

Reply to Varun


Aprant Agarwal

a year ago

Hi. Please go through the article once again to know about the documents required for SDS application.