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SDS Canada Visa Checklist 

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Studying in Canada as an international student has never been simpler today, despite the surge in the number of international applications flooding Canadian institutions! Students from partner countries such as Asia and Africa can now travel to Canada with ease! It would be handier for you if you could expedite your visa procedure and obtain your SDS Canada visa as soon as possible! Continue reading to learn about the qualifying requirements for a student’s direct stream in Canada.

What Is SDS?

Student Direct Stream (SDS), formerly known as Students Partner Programme (SPP), is a Canadian Immigration Authority programme that allows students to apply for visas under the SDS category, whereas the Non-SDS category is commonly referred to as the General Category. It’s yet another way to apply to study in Canada. However, non-SDS is a general visa application procedure that assists individuals who are unable to fulfil the visa criteria to study and work in Canada for a limited time. Let’s learn about the Student Direct Stream Canada requirements in the following sections.  

SDS Student Visa Canada Visa Overview
EligibilityOpen to students from specific countries
Processing TimeFaster than non-SDS applications (around 20 days)
Required DocumentsFewer documents compared to non-SDS applications
English Language TestIELTS with a minimum band score of 6.0 in each section
Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC)CAD 20,635 required
CostCAD 150 application fee + CAD 85 biometrics fee
Success RateGenerally higher compared to non-SDS applications

Canada SDS Visa Requirements

In order to apply for a study permit through the SDS (Study Direct Stream), you must meet specific requirements. Obtaining an SDS visa include a few strict requirements and you must adhere to certain guidelines. Given below are a few SDS Canada Requirements that you must follow for a quick approval: 

  • Confirmation of acceptance from a designated learning institution (DLI) for post-secondary education.
  • Payment of tuition fees for the first year of study.
  • Possession of a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) amounting to CAD 20,635.
  • Last but not the least, you should be residing in the following countries: 

English Language Proficiency Requirements For SDS Canada Visa

Proficiency in the English language is a crucial requirement at every stage of your study abroad process. Canada also mandates this during SDS file processing. Only the IELTS scorecard is considered for this purpose, whether it’s from the Academic or General module. These test scorecards remain valid for 2 years from the date of the SDS application. Given below are some of the standardised English test scores along with the Canada SDS IELTS requirements: 


Acceptance Letter Required For SDS Programme Canada

To apply for a study permit, you need an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution (DLI), which is a school approved by a provincial or territorial government to enroll international students. Canada’s primary and secondary schools are generally DLIs, except for those not included on the list.

It’s important to ensure that the post-secondary institution you plan to attend is listed as a DLI. If your current school’s DLI status is revoked while you’re studying, you’re allowed to continue until your study permit expires. However, in other circumstances, you may need to apply to a new DLI.

Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIS) Requirement For SDS Canada Visa

Guaranteed Investment Certificate is another requirement for obtaining an SDS Canada Visa. To apply for a study permit through the SDS program, obtaining a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) worth CAD 20,635 or as specified by Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for the designated a province of arrival is compulsory. 

For students applying for a study permit outside of the SDS (e.g., for university programs), a GIC can also serve as evidence of funds to cover their living expenses for the first year of their stay in Canada.

A GIC is a secure investment vehicle, similar to a fixed or term deposit, ensuring the full return of the original investment along with accrued interest within a predetermined time frame. 

GIC Banks In India 

Approved GIC providers in India must be selected carefully, as not all banks are authorised to offer GICs for Canada. It’s advisable to choose from the following list of designated Indian banks:

  • ICICI Bank
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
  • SBI Canada
  • Scotiabank
  • HSBC Bank of Canada

Documents Required For Canada Student Visa Under SDS

If you meet the criteria and fulfil the requirements given above, you will have to provide a set of documents that the Visa authorities will review before the interview or approval. Go through the following list of documents carefully:  

  • Proof of payment of tuition fee for your first year of study
  • Relevant academic background with complete academic documents
  • Copy of your medical examination from an authorised panel of doctors
  • IELTS TRF or TEF scorecard
  • Letter of acceptance from a DLI
  • Proof of Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) payment (certificate/letter of attestation)
  • Additional requirement of CAQ for students intending to study in Quebec

How To Apply For SDS Visa Canada? 

To study in Canada under the Student Direct Stream (SDS) programme is an exciting prospect for many international students. To begin this process, applicants must understand through the SDS visa application procedure, which involves several steps and requirements. Given below are the application steps for Canada SDS process: 

Step 1: Begin by visiting the Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website and complete the SDS application form IMM 1294.

Step 2: Upload scanned copies of the required documents.

Step 3: Proceed to pay the fees, which are divided into two categories: Application fees and Biometrics fees. The application fee amounts to CAD 150 per person, while the biometrics fee is CAD 85.

Step 4: Upon fee payment, you’ll receive a link to your biometrics request letter. It’s essential to provide biometrics (fingerprints and photo) information for your application to commence processing.

Step 5: Following acceptance of your biometrics form, you may be required to undergo medical exams and background verification.

Step 6: Upon approval of your SDS visa application, you will receive a letter of introduction, an electronic travel authorisation (eTA), or a temporary resident visa, enabling entry into Canada as an international student.

Step 7: The SDS visa application process significantly streamlines the otherwise exhaustive Canada visa application procedure, making it more accessible for prospective students. This initiative aims to attract more international students to Canada by reducing the time and effort involved in the process.

Canada SDS Process Time 

Most SDS applications undergo processing by IRCC within 20 calendar days. Only applicants who have submitted their SDS applications online are eligible for this expedited processing. All paper applications are subject to regular processing!*

Note: Foreign nationals applying for SDS processing must still adhere to all eligibility and admissibility criteria as outlined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). 

Additionally, to expedite visa processing, it’s crucial to:

  • Provide biometrics promptly
  • Fulfill all eligibility prerequisites

Cost Of Canada SDS Student Visa

The cost associated with applying through Canada SDS visa fees

varies depending on several factors. Generally, applicants are required to pay a processing fee, which is CAD 150 per person, along with a biometrics fee of CAD 85. 

However, additional costs may apply for services such as language testing, medical examinations, and document translation, among others. It’s essential to review the most current fee structure provided by Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to ensure accurate budgeting for the application process. 

Canada SDS Visa Success Rate 

The success rate of applications processed through Canada’s Student Direct Stream (SDS) is generally higher compared to non-SDS applications. This is primarily due to the streamlined nature of the SDS program, which requires fewer documents to be submitted. The reduced documentation requirements contribute to a smoother application process and quicker processing times, ultimately leading to a higher success rate for SDS applicants. However, it’s important to note that meeting all eligibility criteria and providing accurate information remain essential factors for success, regardless of the application stream.

Who Is Not Eligible For The SDS Student Visa In Canada?
If you reside in any of the specified countries listed above, you do not qualify for SDS. However, if you live in a different country, even if you hold citizenship in one of the aforementioned countries, and if you do not meet the eligibility criteria for expedited visa processing, you can still apply through the standard student permit process to pursue studies in Canada.

Is It Possible To Obtain Canadian Permanent Residency Through SDS Canada? 

Canada facilitates the transition to permanent residency for international students wishing to settle in the country.

The Post-Graduate Work Permit enables international students to remain in Canada and work for up to three years following graduation. After accumulating one year of work experience in Canada, international graduates may qualify to apply for permanent residency.


Q1. Which is better, SDS or non-SDS?

SDS files are processed more quickly than non-SDS files. Remember to include proof of funds when filling out the visa application.

Q2. Is SOP required for the SDS category?

Even if you do not have a statement of purpose, you will be granted a visa under the SDS category. However, if you are unsure, attach one; if you are confident in your profile, you may not need one.

Q3. How long does it take to get an SDS visa?

Unlike normal visa processing, it could take 2 – 3 months. International students in the SDS category can obtain a visa in 4 – 6 weeks.

Q4. Is a GIC required for Non-SDS?

A Guaranteed Investment Certificate is not necessary for the Non-SDS category.

Q5. Does the SDS Replace IRCC’s Regular Study Permit Stream?

The SDS doesn’t substitute IRCC’s standard study permit process; rather, it functions as an accelerated pathway. If a student applies for SDS but doesn’t meet the criteria, their application will be handled through regular processing procedures.

Q6. Which of the English proficiency tests are accepted under the SDS application? 

Both IELTS Academic and General Training are acknowledged by the IRCC for the SDS Study Permit Program. The stipulation mandates a minimum band score of 6.0 in each component (Reading, listening, writing, and speaking) for IELTS General Training.

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SDS Canada Visa Checklist 

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