Getting a study permit can be complex and challenging for international students dreaming of studying in Canada. This permit proves the eligibility of international students to work alongside their education. However, the usual process for obtaining a study permit is known for being slow, requiring lots of paperwork, and demanding proof of financial support.

The Canadian government has introduced the Student Direct Stream (SDS) program to address these issues. This program aims to make it easier and faster for international students from certain countries to get the required study permits.

In this article, we will explore the SDS program, who can apply for it, and how it benefits both students and Canadian educational institutions.

The SDS Program: A Streamlined Approach

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) program was launched by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to make obtaining a study permit more efficient and faster for international students from specific countries.

The program is designed to enhance the overall experience of international students studying in Canada and reduce processing times, making Canada an even more attractive educational destination.

Eligibility Requirements for SDS

To qualify for the SDS program, applicants must meet specific criteria set by IRCC. These requirements include:

  1. Citizenship: Applicants must be citizens of one of the eligible countries. Eligible countries include China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Senegal, and Vietnam. Verifying the current list of eligible countries is essential, as it may change over time.
  2. Language Proficiency: Demonstrating proficiency in English or French is an essential requirement. This typically involves taking an approved language test, such as the IELTS for English or the TEF for French. Applicants must achieve the minimum language score specified by IRCC.
  3. Acceptance to a Designated Learning Institution (DLI): Applicants must hold an official acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada. It is crucial to ensure that the institution you plan to attend is on the list of DLIs recognized by the Canadian government.
  4. Proof of Funds: Applicants must show they have sufficient financial resources to cover their tuition fees for the first year of study and living expenses. The exact amount required may vary, depending on the location of the DLI.
  5. Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC): In some cases, applicants may be asked to purchase a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) from a participating Canadian financial institution. Typically, the GIC is worth CAD $10,000.

Application Process for Student Direct Stream (SDS) Program

To apply through the Student Direct Stream (SDS) Program, follow these steps:

  1. Check eligibility:Ensure you meet the requirements for SDS, including being a citizen of a participating country, having an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution in Canada, and meeting the language proficiency criteria.
  2. Gather documents: Collect all the necessary documents, such as a valid passport, proof of acceptance from a designated learning institution, proof of upfront medical examination, proof of financial support, and language test results.
  3. Create an online account: Visit the official Government of Canada website ( and create an online account to start your application process.
  4. Complete the application form: Fill out the study permit application form accurately and provide all the required information.
  5. Pay the fees:Pay the application fees, which include the study permit processing fee and the biometrics fee (if applicable).
  6. Submit your application: Once you have completed the form and paid the fees, submit your application online.

Documents Required for SDS Visa Applications

When applying for a Student Direct Stream (SDS) visa, you must provide several documents to support your application. The requirements may vary depending on your country of residence and circumstances. However, here are some common documents typically required for SDS visa applications:

  1. Valid passport:You will need a valid passport or travel document to return to your home country.
  2. Letter of acceptance: Provide an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada. The letter should include details of your program, start and end dates, and any conditions you must meet.
  3. Proof of upfront medical examination: Under the SDS program, you must undergo a medical examination before applying. Include the medical exam results from an approved panel physician.
  4. Proof of financial support: Demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to cover your tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation. This can be shown through bank statements, scholarship letters, or a letter of financial support from a sponsor.
  5. Language proficiency test results:Provide the results of an approved language test, such as the IELTS, CELPIP, or TEF. The test should demonstrate your proficiency in English or French, depending on the language of instruction at your chosen DLI.

Accepted Language Proficiency for SDS Visa Applications

The Canadian government accepts specific language test scores for SDS visa applications as proof of language proficiency. The accepted language tests for SDS applications are:

To meet the language proficiency requirements for SDS, you must achieve the following minimum scores in each language skill:

IELTS: An overall band score of 6.0 with no individual band score below 6.0

TOEFL iBT: A total score of 79 with a minimum score of 19 in each of the four language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking).

CELPIP: An overall score of 6.0, with a minimum score of 6.0 in each language skill (listening, speaking, reading, and writing).


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Not a Study Visa, but a Study Permit

It’s crucial to note that the Student Direct Stream (SDS) is not a type of visa but a streamlined application process for obtaining a study permit. A study permit is an official document issued by the Government of Canada, allowing foreign nationals to study at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada. This document typically includes details about the study duration, applicable conditions, and whether or not the permit holder can work while studying.

The Benefits of SDS for International Students

The SDS program offers numerous advantages to international students seeking to study in Canada:

  1. Faster Processing Times: One of the most significant benefits of the SDS program is the expedited processing of study permit applications. While the traditional study permit application process may take months, SDS applications are typically processed within 20 working days. This accelerated processing time allows students to plan their academic journey more accurately.
  2. Simplified Documentation: SDS simplifies the application process by providing a clear set of requirements. With a focused list of criteria to meet, applicants can ensure that they provide the necessary documents, making the application process more straightforward and less prone to errors.
  3. Enhanced Student Experience: The program’s streamlined approach aims to create a more seamless experience for international students. By reducing the time and effort required for application, students can easily concentrate on their studies and adapt to their new environment.
  4. Economic Benefits: The program’s efficiency benefits international students and Canadian educational institutions. Faster processing times attract more students to Canada, contributing to the country’s economy through tuition fees and related expenses.

By simplifying the study permit application process, Canada aims to make it more accessible for students from select countries to embark on their educational journey in the country. However, the situation in Canada for international students is declining because of diplomatic stress between India and Canada and the war in Israel. Therefore, students aspiring to study in Canada are advised to skip summer intake and apply for fall sessions for the upcoming year.

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