Student Direct Stream (SDS Canada) - Complete Guide


Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Jun 12, 2023 10:15 PM IST

A new stream, Student Direct Stream (SDS) Canada, was introduced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in June 2018 to facilitate study permit applications for international students. Read on to explore all the details about SDS Canada.

Student Direct Stream (SDS Canada) - Complete Guide

Student Direct Stream Canada: Are you an aspirant student looking for top-quality education, dynamic multiculturalism, and interesting employment opportunities? There is no need to look any further! The Student Direct Stream Canada (SDS) is the right path for you!

The SDS Canada programme simplifies the application procedure, allowing qualifying students from countries such as India, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines to get visas faster. With SDS, Canada scheme, you may enjoy the best Canadian education while avoiding needless delays. Immerse yourself in world-class universities, cutting-edge research, and a warm environment that promotes personal and professional development. 

Whether you want to get a bachelor's or a master's degree, the SDS Canada programme provides speedier visa processing timeframes, allowing you to begin your studies without needless delays. Furthermore, it also guarantees a high-quality education at recognised learning institutions across Canada. 

Let's unveil everything about the Student Direct Stream Canada along with its advantages, application process, requirements, universities and more to embark on a remarkable educational adventure that will shape your future. 

What is Student Direct Stream (SDS) Canada?

With the support of SDS, Canada is making it even simpler for overseas students to participate in the Canadian educational system. With the Student Direct Stream method, study permits can be obtained in as little as 20 calendar days. When students satisfy the qualifying requirements, the IRCC processes the application faster than the standard study permit process. Online applications will be available for SDS consideration. 

The documentation will be completed under the usual study permit rather than the SDS. International students must fulfil the standards of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) to be eligible. 

Countries Eligible for SDS

If you are looking to apply for a student visa in Canada through this programme, then you need to ensure you are a registered citizen of one of the following countries eligible for the student direct stream:

SDS Countries




Saint Vincent and the Grenadines


Antigua and Barbuda







Trinidad and Tobago

Costa Rica

Note: As an Indian student, choosing the Student Direct Stream to acquire your student visa for Canada is a perfect choice. However, you will need to present valid proof of your citizenship to any one of the above-mentioned countries.

Wishing to Pursue Higher Education in Canada?

Eligibility Criteria to Apply for a Study Permit Under the SDS in Canada

A new programme, called Student Direct Stream (SDS), has been launched by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to reduce processing times for students. A newly launched student visa programme means Indian students applying to Canadian universities will be able to process their visas more quickly.

Candidates must fulfil certain criteria as part of the Canada SDS application process, just as they must for a Canada student permit. India, the Philippines, Morocco, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Senegal are some of the only countries whose citizens are eligible to apply. Applicants for a Canadian study permit under the study direct stream must have resided in these countries at the time of their application.

  • A letter of acceptance from any of the participating educational institutions in Canada is required.

  • A student applying for a study permit under the Canada SDS programme must reside outside of Canada at the time of application.

  • To complete their first year of study, students must submit proof of paying their respective universities' tuition fees.

  • Students must own a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of CAD 10,000.

  • To study in Quebec, the candidates will have to have a Certificat d'acceptation du Qubec (CAQ) from the Ministry of Immigration, Francesation and Integration.

  • Medical exams must be conducted before they can apply.

  • Transcripts from the student's most recent secondary or postsecondary school must be submitted.

  • Police certificates are required to apply for a study permit under Canada's SDS programme.

  • The results of their language test must show:

    • If you have already taken the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or you have a score of 6.0 bands or higher in each skill (reading, writing, speaking, and listening), you may apply for the SDS.

    • If the Test d'valuation de Franais (TEF) score matches the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score of at least 7 in reading, writing, speaking, and listening, the student is eligible for the Test d'valuation de Franais (TEF).

Note: Student permits are not visas and should not be confused with student visas. Students have the option of availing of either a Canada student visa or a Canadian Electronic Travel Authorization, depending on the category under which their home country falls.

GIC Account for SDS Programme in Canada

Those who have chosen to apply for their student visa via the SDS programme launched by the Canadian government need to present valid documentation pertaining to a GIC or Guaranteed Investment Certificate along with the application form.

What is a GIC?

According to official sources, a GIC, i.e., Guaranteed Investment Certificate is a Canadian investment that brings in a guaranteed rate of return over a period of time. According to Investopedia, a GIC is often purchased as a retirement plan as they offer a fixed rate of return at low risk and are usually insured by the Canadian government to a certain extent.

Why do I Need a GIC?

If you are applying for your Canadian student visa via the Student Direct Stream, then you will be required to present this document. However, the role a GIC plays in confirming your eligibility for a Canadian student visa is two-fold, according to HDFC Credila:

  • A GIC serves as proof of financial sustenance to the Canadian government, confirming that you possess the necessary funds to cover your student living expenses in Canada for one year; and

  • Submitting a GIC of CAD 10,000 from an approved bank act as proof of sufficient funds for your student visa application, thus allowing you to acquire the appropriate student as quickly as possible.

Note: You will be required to acquire a GIC from one of the few recognised and approved banks in Canada, subsequently, allowing you to receive your student visa via the SDS programme in Canada.

Approved Financial Institutions for GIC

As stated above, if you are applying for your student visa in Canada via the student direct stream, you will be required to submit a GIC received from one of the approved banks in Canada.

  • SBI Canada Bank

  • ICICI Bank

  • HSBC Bank of Canada

  • Scotiabank

  • RBC Royal Bank

Note: There are several other banking institutions that have been approved to offer candidates a GIC. However, the banks that have been mentioned can be accessed easily by aspiring Indian students who wish to apply for their Canadian student visa via the Student Direct Stream.

SDS Canada: Application Process for GIC

The application process to attain a valid and authorised GIC for your SDS application in Canada will vary between different banking institutions. However, here is a general application process to get a GIC for your SDS application in Canada:

  • Visit the official website of one of the approved banking institutions approved to provide you with a GIC.

  • You will most likely be asked to complete the GIC application process online, wherein, after you have created an account with the bank, you will be sent a GIC application form.

  • After registering for secure email services with Canadian banks and receiving your student GIC programme application, you can submit the same via online or offline modes.

    • Online Mode: Fill out the application form and submit the same with a scanned copy of the admission enrolment letter you received along with your passport through your secure email account.

    • Offline Mode: Download the student GIC programme application form, take a printout of the same and fill it out and attest the same with your signature. You can then submit the form to the designated bank in India along with the admission offer letter from a Canadian college as well as your passport.

  • Once the form has been submitted, you will receive an Investment Account Number and funding details on the secure email address, wherein, you are required to deposit the Canada Student GIC Programme with CAD 10,000 with an additional CAD 150 as a processing fee.

    • It should be noted that the amount transferred should be done from the student's account or a joint account held by the student in India.

  • Once the amount had been transferred into the GIC account, students will receive an Investment Balance Confirmation in their investment account.

  • Upon receiving the Investment Balance Confirmation, you are advised to apply for the appropriate Canadian student visa and submit the study permit application along with the Investment Balance Confirmation, which will allow the student visa processing to be quick and convenient.

  • After arriving in Canada, you will be required to visit any of the approved bank branches and complete the rest of the documentation formalities. In other words, open up a bank account with the respective banks and issue a GIC.

Once the account has been opened in Canada, CAD 2,000 will be transferred into your account while the rest of the CAD 8,000 will be transferred to you on a monthly basis for 1 year. Students are advised to bring documents such as the Investment Balance Confirmation, their Passport, Study Permit as well as their letter of admission to a Canadian university.

Note: In case your student visa gets cancelled or declined, you will be able to get your CAD 10,000 investment back, however, the same will only be refunded to the account from which the amount had initially been transferred.

Moreover, documents such as your declined/cancelled study permit, proof of withdrawal from the respective Canadian institution or a declined admission application from a Canadian higher education institution must be submitted to receive a refund.

SDS Visa Processing and Requirements for Indian Students

According to the Canadian government, some changes have been made to SDS requirements and the application process. Here are the requirements and application process for Indian students for SDS visas:

  • A minimum score of 6 in each module of IELTS is necessary for UG and PG courses.

  • In the first year, one must pay the entire tuition fee in advance.

  • It is required that the institution and college have a Designated Learning Institution number (DLI).

  • The purchase of a GIC (Guaranteed Investment Certificate) needs to be made with a minimum of CAD 10,000.

Documents Required for SDS Visa Application

The following documents need to be attached to your application:

  • An acceptance letter from an educational institution you have been accepted to.
  • A copy of your confirmation document for your upfront medical exam.
  • Evidence that you own a GIC of CAD 10,000.
  • A receipt that proves you have paid the tuition fees for your first year of study.
  • Provide proof such as a transcript showing that you graduated from a Canadian curriculum high school or a test score confirmation showing that you passed the English test (IELTS).

Language Scores Requirements for SDS Canada 

According to the most recent update, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will begin accepting new English language exams for the Student Direct Stream (SDS) visa programme on August 10, 2023. IELTS has been recognised in the study permit programme since its inception, and the good news for IELTS test takers is that the required band score of 6 has not changed.

This implies that candidates for the IELTS Academic route must have a minimum overall band score of 6.0, but applicants for the IELTS General Training exam must have a minimum band score of 6.0 in each skill: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.

The IRCC's total Student Direct Stream Canada (SDS) permit score criteria for academic examinations are as follows:


Minimum Score Required

IELTS Academic








How Much Does it Cost to Apply through SDS Canada?

SDS Canada requires international students to prove they have paid their tuition in full for the first academic year.

The following could be the result:

  • An invoice or receipt from the DLI.

  • Bank receipts showing payment of tuition fees to the DLI.

  • DLI's official confirmation of tuition fee payment.

  • GICs are guaranteed investment certificates.

How to Apply for SDS Canada?

SDS only accepts online applications for study permits. For the Student Direct Stream, no paper applications are accepted. The process is summarized as follows:

Step 1: Prepare your application, submit the required documents, and pay the biometric fee.

Step 2: As part of the application processing, you will usually be required to provide biometrics (fingerprints and a photograph). A biometrics request letter will be sent to you after you have paid the biometrics fee and submitted your application. In-person submissions must be submitted within 30 days. Until this information is provided, your application cannot be processed.

Step 3: Following the biometric submission, you might also be required to submit a medical examination or a police clearance.

Step 4: Once you provide your biometric data, your application will be processed (if you meet eligibility requirements, usually within 20 days). SDS applications that don't meet eligibility criteria are processed as regular study permits, at which point faster processing isn't available to you.

Step 5: After your application has been approved, you will receive:

  • Introduction letter (No, this isn't your study permit). When you arrive in Canada, you should show this letter to the officer at the immigration booth to get your study permit.

  • A temporary resident visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA) is required for entry into Canada.

Many of our students have got admission through SDS Canada to top universities and have sought the assistance of our Study Abroad Experts. Several of our students have received admissions to their desired Canadian universities.

Find Out Which Canadian Universities are Best for You!

List of SDS Designated Learning Institutions (DLI)

International students may attend any college or university that is designated as a learning institution by the province or territory. The student must obtain a Study Permit before enrolling in undergraduate or graduate courses. Students must obtain an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution before they can obtain a Study Permit. A unique number is allotted to each designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada.


International students find it one of the most attractive locations due to the excellent employment and immigration opportunities it offers. Students in Alberta can take post-secondary courses at colleges and universities.

College/University Name


Mount Royal University


St. Marys University


University of Alberta


University of Alberta


University of Calgary


British Columbia

A certain number of schools is only approved by British Columbia under its 'Education Quality Assessment'. International students who are interested in studying here can take advantage of the Education Quality Assessment since they haven't visited the school yet, and it gives them consumer protection.

College/University Name


Alexander College

Burnaby, Vancouver

College of New Caledonia

Prince George

Columbia International College


University of the Fraser Valley


Vancouver Community College



In Canada, international students are mainly based in Ontario. Ontario is the province in which Toronto is the largest city, so there are many jobs for young graduates there. The employment rate in Ontario is also the highest in Canada (92%). The DLI number of a college in Ontario province can be found below for students planning to pursue higher education in Canada.

College/University Name


Centennial College


Georgian College


St. Lawrence College


University of Waterloo


York University



You can find a list of SDS colleges in Quebec along with their DLI number here if you're planning to pursue higher education there. Located in Quebec, Montreal is one of the largest cities with a high student population per capita. Quebec offers internationally recognized undergraduate and graduate degrees.

College/University Name


CDE Collge


McGill University


Royal Military College Saint-Jean

Saint-Jean-sur Richelieu

University of Montreal


Vanier College


Finally, the Student Direct Stream Canada is your ticket to a quick and easy visa application procedure that will allow you to pursue a world-class education in Canada. Benefit from speedier processing times, a diversified learning environment, and a dynamic multicultural setting. Do not pass up the opportunity to begin on an engaging academic path and prepare yourself for a great career in Canada. Apply to SDS Canada and let your dreams fly!

Are there any other questions you'd like to ask about the SDS? Contact us at and we will assist you in getting them cleared as soon as possible. In our years of experience, our team of experts have counselled numerous students about choosing the right career path for higher education abroad.

Need Assistance to Get Admitted through SDS? 


Can you apply for a study permit you have been rejected under SPP but qualify for SDS programme?

Yes, a candidate can apply for a study permit under the SDS programme even if the application has been rejected for the SPP programme. Candidates who qualify for the SDS programme, regardless of the status of their previous application, can apply for a study permit under the SDS programme. Applications for both SPP and SDS are evaluated based on the documents submitted by candidates in the same way.

Can international students change programmes within the same DLI or do they also need to change their study permit?

Yes, international students can change programmes within the same DLI without changing their study permit. However, it may be necessary to update the study permit for some Designated Learning Institutions (DLI). The study permit involves certain conditions, which, if affected by the change in programmes, require students to notify the IRCC of the changes.

Are all DLIs eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?

No, all DLIs are not eligible for a Post Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). As a prerequisite for PGWP, graduates from only specific DLIs are eligible for a work permit. Furthermore, while graduating from an authorised DLI does not immediately grant you a work permit, you must also complete other requirements to qualify for the same.

How does an SDS application progress if it is approved?

If an application is approved, the Canadian High Commission issues a study permit and delivers it to the candidate's address, along with a stamped visa on their passport. This is not, however, a valid study permit. Candidates must present this to immigration officials upon entering Canada, where the original study permit is issued.

Can SDS Canada help in obtaining a Permanent Residency in Canada?

Obtaining a permanent residency in Canada is not very difficult for international students. After graduation, international students can work and stay for up to three years after studying on a Post-Graduate Work Permit in Canada. Graduates from international universities are eligible for permanent residency after working in Canada for one year.

Is it possible to apply under the SDS programme if I took the TOEFL or PTE Exams instead of IELTS?

No, a candidate cannot apply under the SDS programme if they took the TOEFL or PTE exam instead of IELTS. Candidates must present only the IELTS exam score as their English Language Proficiency test to be considered for the SDS programme. Other standardised exams like TOEFL and PTE exams are not acceptable under the new SDS category.

In what way are DLIs different from other educational institutions?

Designated Learning Institutes or DLIs are different from other educational institutions in terms of the validity of a study permit. An international study permit is only valid for Canadian universities if it is designated by the Canadian government as DLI. Therefore, if you want to pursue higher education in Canada as an international student, make sure that your chosen academic institution is on the approved list of DLIs; otherwise, your study permit will stand invalid.

Can students, who have already paid their first-year fee after receiving their acceptance letter, apply to the SDS programme?

Yes, students who have already paid their first-year fee after receiving their acceptance letter can apply to the SDS programme. Candidates can apply for the Canadian Study Permit under the SDS programme only if they have paid the first-year fee and have met all the SDS requirements. Based on the documents they have submitted, their application will be evaluated under this programme.

Is the SPP or SDS programme considered for students who have already applied?

Yes, the SPP or SDS programme is considered for students who have already applied. Existing applicants will not be impacted by the new SDS programme. In addition, the new programme would not affect the processing of a student’s university or visa application. All applications under the new and old SPP programme would be processed in the same way as the old process.

Are students receiving an acceptance letter from a Canadian university eligible for the SDS programme?

Yes, students receiving an acceptance letter from a Canadian university are eligible for the SDS programme. Applicants must submit a letter of acceptance from a Canadian university to apply for a study permit in the country. For this, a prospective student must first apply to a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) and receive a letter of acceptance. Thereafter, students who have applied to DLIs are eligible to participate in the SDS programme.

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