• Study in Canada

Everything about Canada's Student Direct Stream (SDS)

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  • By:CANAM Group
  • Updated On:Aug 28,2023 03:29 PM IST

Want to get your study permit application processed faster? Apply through student direct stream (SDS) which is an expedited processing program. Read to know about the eligibility criteria language test requirements, document requirements, process of applying and more.

About Canada's Student Direct Stream (SDS) 

Student Direct Stream or SDS is one of the two ways of obtaining a study permit for Canada. The SDS program makes the study permit application of eligible candidates applicable for faster processing by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada than regular or non- SDS applications.     

Eligibility Criteria for Student Direct Stream (SDS)

To be eligible for faster processing of Canadian study permit under the SDS category, the candidate must:

• Be a legal resident of India (or Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam) 
• Have an acceptance letter from one of the Canadian post-secondary designated learning institutes (DLIs).
• Reside outside of Canada at the time of application 
• Have completed secondary or post-secondary education 
• Have paid complete tuition fee for the first year of their academic program in Canada
• have obtained a Guaranteed Income Certificate (GIC)
• Have obtained the minimum scores on one of the qualifying language tests

English Language Test Requirements for Canada SDS

An update in English language requirements after August 10, 2023 constitutes that English language test scores of Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL), Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP), Pearson Test of English (PTE) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) will be accepted along with the previously only acceptable test - International English Language Testing System (IELTS). These language tests are only accepted in their in-person format and online tests are not accepted.

The updated English language requirements for applying through SDS are:

Language Proficiency ExamsMinimum Score Requirements
IELTSMinimum overall score of 6
TOEFLiBT minimum overall score of 83
PTEMinimum overall score of 60
CELPIPEquivalent score to a Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) score of 7 or higher for each ability
CAELMinimum overall score of 60

Documents Required to Apply for Study Permit through SDS

Candidates can apply for study permit through the Student Direct Stream (SDS) with the following requisite documents:

1. Passport
2. Guaranteed Income Certificate (GIC) of CAD 10,000
3. Proof of funds like loan sanction Letter, fixed deposit slip, bank statements, savings with bank manager’s seal & sign etc.
4. Academic documents like 10th marksheet, 12th marksheet, individual semester marksheets UG & PG (if applicable), consolidated marksheet UG & PG (if applicable), provisional certificate UG & PG (if applicable), degree certificate UG & PG (if applicable), resume (if applicable)
5. Work related documents (If applicable) like experience certificate from previous company, offer letter from current company or payslip of three months
6. English language test scores(IELTS/PTE/TOEFL)
7. Unconditional letter of acceptance 
8. Official fee receipt (1-year tuition fee)
9. Medical certificate 
10. Photo with white background of size 35mm*45mm
11. Affidavit from sponsor (parent / spouse) 
12. Income Tax Returns / Form 16 (previous 2 years) 
13. CA certificate (if applicable) 
15. Marriage certificate (if applicable) 
16. Spouse’s work – offer letter with 3 months’ payslip (if applicable) 
17. Police verification certificate (Required only for very few cases)

Difference between SDS and Non-SDS processes for Canadian Study Permit

The difference between the two processes is outlined in the table below:

Visa processing time20 calendar days*6-8 weeks approx.
EligibilityApplicable to citizens of India (and Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam) Applicable to citizens of all countries
ProcessStreamlined and fastLengthy
MediumOnline onlyCan also be submitted offline

(*Source - https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/study-canada/study-permit/student-direct-stream/after-apply.html)

How to Apply for a Canadian Study Permit under SDS Category?

An SDS application can only be made online. The process includes paying fee for processing, providing details, and paying fee for biometrics. The following steps can be carried out for applying for a study permit through Student Direct Stream or SDS: 


Benefits of Applying for Study Permit through Student Direct Stream (SDS)

Eligible students applying for a Canadian study permit through SDS gain the following benefits:

1. Online process – The process of applying through the stream is completely online and therefore a less time consuming and smooth process.   
2. Greater chances of approval – Since the eligibility criteria decreases the number of applicants, the chances of approval are higher. In 2023 so far, the success rate or approval rate for SDS applicants is 73%. (Source: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/nri/study/why-student-direct-stream-is-the-best-way-to-apply-for-your-canadian-student-visa/articleshow/101465917.cms?from=mdr)
3. Faster Processing Time – The processing time for SDS applications is 20 days as compared to a few months for a regular or Non-SDS application.   


Student Direct Stream or SDS to study in Canada is an expedited process to obtain study permit. The eligibility includes offer from a Designated Learning Institute in Canada and minimum required scores on language proficiency tests amongst others. The application through the SDS route can only be made online where applicants submit their documents and receive approval in a few days. Applicants can follow the guidelines to apply for the Canadian permit.

Also read: Pros and cons of studying in Canada


No, Duolingo test scores are not acceptable for SDS application. 
Yes, students can reapply on the basis of the reason of rejection as provided by the authorities. 
No, GIC is not needed for applying for a study permit through a regular stream. 
It’s a secure investment that helps you pay for your studies and living expenses in Canada. A minimum investment of CAD 10,000 is required to file visa under SDS category.
The cost of applying through SDS (and regular or Non-SDS) is CAD 150 (processing fee) and CAD 85 (biometrics fee). 
• IELTS( Academic) – overall 6
• IELTS (General Test)- equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) score of 7
( 6 for each ability)
•  PTE – overall 60
• TOEFL iBT – overall 83
• CAEL – overall 60
• CELPIP - equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) score of 7 for each ability

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