What is the difference between SDS and Non-SDS visa applications?

Difference between SDS and Non SDS

While you are looking forward to pursuing your higher education from Canada, you might end up spending time trying to understand the difference between SDS and Non-SDS. Let us first understand both these concepts.

Student Direct Stream (SDS) was earlier known as Students Partner Program (SPP). It is an initiative by Canadian Immigration Authorities which enables the students to apply for visa applications under SDS category while the Non-SDS is often called the General Category. It is yet another method of applying for study in Canada. Non-SDS helps those candidates who could not meet the visa requirements to apply. Now that we have some idea of the SDS vs Non-SDS for Canada visa applications concept, let us delve deeper and find out more about them.

Read More: Why study in Canada


The newly launched program is specially designed to make the process of students receiving their student visas more effective through the Canada Study Permit Application. However, the candidates would be required to fulfil some rules and requirements under this program to study in Canada.

SDS Visa Requirements

As the SPP visa requirements are concerned, here are some points for you.

Language Proficiency Test

1. You need to qualify an English Proficiency Test under the SDS category.

2. Candidates can appear either for IELTS Academic or IELTS General

3. In each of the sections, you would need to score a minimum of 6.0 bands. The subsections of the paper consist of Reading, Speaking, Writing, and Listening.


If you want to apply for a student visa in Canada, you must have a valid passport. If the date of the passport expires, your study permit, temporary resident visa (TRV), and any other type of document will not be issued from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC)

You have to deposit $10000 (CAD) or more as a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC). This money helps in ensuring that you are secured in Canada and even have additional sources to fund for the extra expenses. You will get this money once you reach the country. Some of the banks that offer GIC include NOVA SCOTIA, ICICI, CIBC, and SBI.

Once you arrive in Canada, you will get around $2,000 CAD plus interest which will be deposited in your student bank account. Every month you will receive around $667 CAD for the next 12 months.

Read More: Cost of Living in Canada for international student

Tuition Fee

You have to make the full payment of the first-year tuition fee.

Letter of Acceptance

The candidates receive a letter of acceptance from the Designated Learning Institute (DLI) where they apply for their further education. Some of the colleges and universities are authorized as DLIs by the Canadian provincial and territorial government.

Educational Documents

You have to submit all the previous academic certificates which are genuine and complete. The documents may include the 10th certificate, 12th certificate, diploma, and graduation (if any).

Medical Examination

You would also need to submit a document that will serve as proof of a medical examination. The check-up will include a full-body examination.

Statement of Purpose

Statement of Purpose (SOP) plays an important role in a student visa. You have to write SOP whether it is for SDS or non-SDS. It is more like an essay in which you have to mention why you are choosing a particular course in the college in Canada. It works as a clarification to the visa officer about the profile and interest of the candidate.

Nevertheless, you need to know that SOP for the Canadian High Commission is not the same as the SOP written for the universities or colleges in Canada. SOPs written for the universities focuses more on the particular courses, background of the candidate, and also portrays the interest of the candidate in the particular course.

Digital Picture

Digital pictures of the candidates are yet another requirement. The picture has to be 80% zoom on white background, and 35X45.

Read More: Settle in Canada from India


As you wish to study abroad in a country like Canada, knowing about SDS vs Non-SDS for Canada visa applications is very vital. Since we have already discussed SDS, let us now talk about Non-SDS. It is another method through which you can apply for a student visa in Canada. 

Non-SDS Visa Requirements

The non-SDS visa requirements are mentioned as below:

Language Proficiency Test:

As per the non-SDS Canada, candidates are required to clear a language proficiency test. They can appear for eligibility tests such as IELTS, PTE, or TOEFL to prove their language proficiency. 


As you intend to apply for a student visa in Canada, you need a valid passport. In case your passport has expired, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will not issue you a temporary resident visa (TRV) or a study permit. You need to ensure your permit has been extended before it expires, along with your study permit, and all the other applicable Canadian permits or visas.

Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC):

As a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC), you would require depositing around $10000 (CAD) or more. The money you deposit will further help you to make sure that you do not have to worry in Canada, and you have extra sources to pay for the possible expenses. It is basically the amount that you will get once you arrive in the country.

Some banks that offer GIC include NOVA SCOTIA, ICICI, CIBC, and SBI. As you arrive in Canada, you will get around $2,000 CAD plus any interest, which will be deposited into your account. For the next 12 months after you arrive in the country, you will get approximately an amount of $667 CAD each month.

Under non-SDS, the GIC is not mandatory, and you can replace it with proof of liquid funds.

Tuition Fee:

Under non-SDS visa requirements, you can start by depositing tuition fees for six months for DLI. However, you need to make sure that you portray financial stability. You have to submit documents as proof of financial stability.

Medical Examination:

You have to submit a document of full-body check-up as proof of medical examination.

Educational Documents:

You have to submit your academic documents that are genuine. The documents will include your previous education certificates such as 10th certificate, 12th certificate, graduation or diploma.

Digital Pictures:

You would be required to submit your digital pictures with specifications like 35X45 and an 80% zoom white background.

Statement of Purpose:

In either case of SDS and non-SDS, Statement of purpose (Sop) plays a vital role. It is more like an essay in which you have to mention the reason for choosing Canada as your education destination along with the reason for choosing the specific course.

Financial Documents:

Under non-SDS, you have to submit financial documents that will help justify your financial stability. The documents include Proof of Income (Income Tax Returns, Form-16, J-Forms). You can also add liquid assets in the form of GPF, Bank Statements, Fixed Deposits, and many more.

Read More: Accommodation in Canada for international students

Why should you go for SDS over non-SDS?

SDS is always considered better than non-SDS. Below are some of the reasons: 

1. Lesser documents:

One of the advantages of SDS program over non-SDS is that you do not have to submit a lot of documents to prove your financial eligibility, while under non-SDS the numbers of documents that have to be submitted are way too many. Two of the important documentation that is needed for the SDS program include an International English Language Testing System or IELTS score of 6.0 or higher and a Guaranteed Investment Certificate of C$ 10,000 or more.

2. Fast processing:

SDS program makes the entire process streamlined and simpler. The entire processing takes around 45 days. However, you are required to meet all the requirements specified in the program. This is especially beneficial to the students who want to move to their college or university at the earliest.

3. Higher success rate:  

If you examine the success rate of the SDS program vs the non-SDS program, you will find that despite the fall of 15.9% in the year 2020 due to the lockdown, SDS program acceptance rates remain high. In 2020 the approval rates for the SDS program have been trending at 63%.

As demonstrated by facts and figures, it is suitable for most students who can fulfill the criteria to go for the SDS program. It can help the aspirants save a lot of time and confusion. 

If you are serious about pursuing higher education in Canada, you can check the programs of upGrad Abroad that are offered in collaboration with some of the best Canadian educational institutions. upGrad Abroad has introduced BBA and BCA programs in collaboration with Fraser Valley and BBA in collaboration with Yorkshire University. Check out the website of upGrad Abroad to check out the details and find out more about how you can apply for the SDS program.

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