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What is SDS (Student Direct Stream) in Canada?

Updated on 01 April, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

Canada is known for its quality of education and competitive entry requirements. A Canadian degree or diploma is recognized across the globe. It is home to globally ranked universities like the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Alberta. However, the visa application process can be a daunting task and quite a time-consuming one at that. International students can avoid waiting 2-3 months to get a study permit. The student direct stream Canada (SDS) makes the process of visa application streamlined and quick. 

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International students who are applying to various Designated Learning Institutes (DLI) in Canada can expect an efficient study permit process with the Student Direct Stream program. It was launched by Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The time taken for a normal visa or study permit takes more than 2 months. Whereas, the SDS Canada visa allows students to get their study permit within 6 weeks. The processing time and online hassle-free application process make it favorable for international students.

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There are certain eligibility criteria that students need to meet to be eligible for the SDS Canada visa process. International students need to understand the Student Direct Stream Canada requirements.

The Student Direct Stream is applicable for students who have permanent residency in the following countries.

1. Antigua and Barbuda

2. Costa Rica

3. India

4. Morocco

5. Senegal

6. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

7. Trinidad and Tobago

8. China

9. Colombia

10. Pakistan 

11. Peru

12. Philippines

13. Vietnam

14. Brazil

About Study Direct Stream

Canada is making it even easier for international students to be a part of the Canadian education system with the help of SDS. Study permits are available easily within 20 calendar days with the Student Direct Stream process. The IRCC processes the application faster than the normal study permit process when the students meet the eligibility criteria. The applications that are submitted online will be eligible under SDS. The paperwork process will be under the normal study permit and not SDS. International students must meet the eligibility requirements under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). 

Read More: Guide to study in Canada for free || Study in Canada

Student Direct Stream (SDS) Canada: Requirements

International students need to meet the standard eligibility as set by the IRCC. The list of eligibility criteria as set by the professional body is listed below: 

1. International students need to have an admission or acceptance letter or document from the Designated Learning institute. 

2. The tuition fees for the first year need to be paid. The receipt from DLI should be there, along with an official letter that confirms that the first-year fees were fully paid by the student. The students need to show the bank receipt too. That shows the amount of the transaction from the student’s account to the bank account. 

3. A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of CAD 10,000 (Rs 6 lakh). It should be done from any bank that is listed on the IRCC SDS website, or from the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation. When the students purchase the GIC, they should get a GIC certificate, a letter of attestation, confirmation from Investment Balance Confirmation, and an Investment Directions Confirmation. The banks need to keep the funds in an investment or student account till the student arrives in Canada. When the students arrive, the banks will validate their identity and release the study fund. Then, the students will receive the disbursement amount in various installments, like biweekly, monthly, or bimonthly as needed. 

4. The test scores that determine English language proficiency in non-native English speakers will be a deciding point for SDS. The minimum score of IELTS is 6, and the TEF score that is equivalent to the Canadian Language Benchmark should be more than 7, in all the areas like speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The tests should be completed within 2 years of the SDS application date. 

5. Students must have all the recent secondary or post-secondary education mark sheets and transcripts. All educational qualification degrees that are relevant need to be attached to the application. 

6. Proof of medical examination by any physician is also required. It is more important for students who have traveled or lived in any designated territory or country before arriving in Canada. There will be courses that will need an upfront medical examination result, so students taking admission to such courses will need to show medical examination proof. The medical examination proof can be a paper document or in PDF format. 

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Eligibility Criteria for Student Direct Stream Canada

To be eligible for SDS processing, an applicant must include the following documents:

1) Valid language test result proof- The test has to be completed within 2 years of the date of receiving the SDS application, indicating either of the following:

2) Proof of a GIC or Guaranteed Investment Certificate of CAD 10,000 (INR 5,88,723.38) or more from any bank insured by the CDIC or Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation. You can get your proof of a GIC from some other bank listed on the IRCC SDS web page.

The following criteria must be fulfilled by the GIC- 

  • After the purchase of the GIC the bank provides the applicant with a letter of attestation, the GIC certificate, the Investment Directions Confirmation or the Investment Balance Confirmation.
  • Until the applicant arrives in Canada, the bank holds the funds in an investment account or a student account. This account is inaccessible for release to the applicant until they arrive in the country.
  • Once the applicant enters Canada, the bank verifies the client’s identity before releasing the funds to the study permit holder.
  • The applicant gets an initial disbursement after identity verification, and the remaining funds are paid in monthly or bimonthly instalments for 10 to 12 months.

3) Proof of full payment of tuition fees for the applicant’s first year of pursuing the degree. 

4) Letter of acceptance from a post-secondary DLI.

5) Most current secondary or post-secondary educational transcript.

6) Proof of fulfilment of upfront medical assessment from a panel physician for applicants who have resided or travelled for 6 months in designated nations or regions during the year before arriving in Canada.

7) Additionally, an SDS applicant must provide these documents with their electronic application:

  • Application for Study Permit Made Outside Canada form 
  • Family Information form Schedule 1 
  • Application for a Temporary Resident Visa form  
  • Marriage licence or certificate or Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Union form 
  • Use of a Representative form 
  • Application processing and biometric processing fee payment
  • Proof of identity
  • Photocopy of the information and biographic data page of the passport
  • Any extra documents asked for by the visa office instructions applicable in the applicant’s region

To make a proper decision on the application, officers may also request additional documents from the applicant at any time. Officials must be convinced that the applicant is bona fide and will leave Canada by the end of the duration authorized for their stay.

Check Eligibility to Study in Canada


How to Apply for the Student Direct Stream (SDS) in Canada

After having received your acceptance letter and GIC in hand, along with other substantiating documents, you can apply to the Student Direct Stream program online. The sole way to apply for a study permit through SDS is online as there is no paper application for it. Before applying online, have all relevant documents ready and make sure you have a valid credit or debit card to pay your biometric fee. After completing your application you will receive a letter informing you where and how to complete the step of providing your biometrics such as fingerprints and a photo.

When applying for SDS, you will be required to fill in the following forms –

  • Application For Study Permit Made Outside of Canada
  • Family Information
  • Document Checklist 
  • Statutory Declaration of Common-law Union (if applicable)
  • Custodianship Declaration – Custodian for Minors Studying in Canada (if applicable )
  • Use of a Representative (if applicable)
  • Authority to release personal information to a designated individual (if applicable)

You must remember that a study permit is not equivalent to a visa. To enter Canada you might still require a visitor visa or an electronic travel authorization which will be issued to you by the federal government along with your study permit.

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A few other essential documents to be attached to the SDS application

1. Application form for a study permit outside of Canada 

2. The form has to have all the relevant family information

3. Application for Temporary Resident visa form

4. Marriage license or marriage certificate

5. Representative form

6. Identity proof

7. Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) or letter of approval from the University of Quebec (for example)

8. Receipt of application fee for the Study Direct Stream process

9. Photocopy of all the relevant documents, information, and biographic data page of the applicant’s passport

10. Statement of purpose where the officers should be satisfied that the students will leave Canada after the completion of studies

11. Any other documents of valid evidence as asked by the Visa officers

Read More: Degree or Diploma in Canada: Which is best fit for you?

Incomplete SDS (Student Direct Stream) Application

An incomplete application form will be rejected straightaway. This will lead to a study permit denial. Incomplete application forms will also not be accepted by the visa officials. The application form contains all the information that is important for the officials to understand the students. If the students miss out on any relevant information or document the application will be denied. The competition is huge and a minor mistake may take away the chance of study permit approval. Also, if the processing fee of the application is not included or it is wrong, the application will be rejected. 

Family members of study permit applicants under the SDS

The family members of the applicants of the Student Direct Stream can be eligible for a concurrent process if they apply with the students at the same time. For more information or any queries, the students can refer to the family member subsection in R1. The temporary residence processes that include the study permit, work permit, or temporary resident visa of the family members traveling along with the students should be submitted online under the family grouping category. 

Courses and bridging programs under SDS

International students that are taking any type of prerequisite courses or any bridging diploma or degree before starting the main program are eligible to apply for a Study Direct Stream. The students must meet all the eligibility criteria as discussed above, with all the relevant evidence and documents attached to the application to initiate the process of SDS. 

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Canada makes immigration easier and more flexible for international students with SDS. It welcomes international students by initiating the SDS process to get into the process of obtaining a study permit within a short period. The SDS Canada visa processing time is only 20 days, where the normal process would take more than 2 months in general. For any other queries related to documents or eligibility, consult with the counselors of upGrad Abroad

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is “Student Direct Stream”?

The Student Direct Stream or SDS is an expedited study permit application stream for international students which was launched by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in June 2018. The SDS permit is for students who want to pursue higher education in Canada. IRCC intent behind developing this program was to support the rapid growth of international student applications. The important advantage of the SDS for applicants is that it offers a more efficient study permit processing time and helps in fast-tracking the entire process of going to Canada for students.

Who can apply for the Student Direct Stream?

A student who is a legal resident of one of the countries mentioned on the official websites can apply for SDS Canada. These countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Vietnam. Alongside this you will need an acceptance letter from a post-secondary designated learning institution, have proof you have paid your tuition for your first year of study, have a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of CAD 10,000, a medical and police certificate, latest school transcript, a valid language test result.

How to submit an SDS application?

To submit an SDS application you will require the following-

– Letter of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution
– Proof of payment of tuition fee for your first year of the course
– Proof of GIC or Guaranteed Investment Certificate payment (certificate or letter of attestation) IELTS TRF or TEF scorecard
– Copy of your medical assessment conducted by an authorized panel of doctors
– Documents about academic background
– ‘CAQ’ or ‘Quebec Acceptance Certificate’ for students intending to study in Quebec

Can you apply under student direct stream after refusal?

Yes, you can apply for the Student Direct Scheme, regardless of previous applications, if you are eligible in the first place.

Is TOEFL accepted for student direct stream Canada?

An international student will require either IELTS or TEF with the minimum score requirements for SDS Canada application.

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

We are a dedicated team of study-abroad experts, ensuring intensive research and comprehensive information in each of our blogs. With every piece written, we aim at simplifying the overseas education process for all. Our diverse experience as journalists, content writers, editors, content strategists, and marketers helps create the most relevant and authentic blogs for our readers.

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