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Canada's Student Direct Stream offers faster processing of study permits and streamlined applications for residents of certain countries. Learn whether you're eligible for a Student Direct Stream to see whether you can receive your study permit in as little as 20 days.

Key Takeaways about Canada’s SDS:

  • People living in any of the 14 SDS countries may be eligible for Canada’s Student Direct Stream. Note that it’s based on residency, not citizenship.
  • If you’re from an SDS country but you live in a non-SDS country, you will need to apply for a regular study permit.
  • Applying through Canada’s SDS may allow you to get your study permit in as little as 20 days.
  • You will still need to meet language, financial support, and other requirements, even when you apply through the SDS.

What is Canada’s Student Direct Stream?

Studying in Canada has become an even more attractive proposition for residents of key partner countries, thanks to the Student Direct Stream.

Student Direct Stream applications are typically processed in less than one month.

Under Canada’s Student Direct Stream, international students residing in the Philippines, China, India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Morocco, Senegal Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago benefit from expedited processing of their applications to study in Canada.

Students from these countries who demonstrate upfront that they have the financial resources and language skills to succeed academically in Canada benefit from faster processing times. The service standard for Canada’s Student Direct Stream processing is 20 calendar days.

Eligibility for Canada’s Student Direct Stream

To qualify for the Student Direct Stream, applicants need to meet additional requirements, in particular language levels that are stricter than regular study permit requirements. In addition, a core component for acceptance through the Student Direct Stream is submitting a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) showing you have an investment account with a balance of CAD $20,635 or higher.

Students who do not have all of the additional information may still apply online through the regular study permit application process. Applications that meet the regular study permit criteria but not the Student Direct Stream criteria may be processed according to the regular study permit criteria, but do receive the faster processing that is available under the Student Direct Stream (SDS Canada).

Do you prefer to learn by video? Check out this comprehensive webinar on studying in Canada which we produced in partnership with Doherty Fultz Immigration:

 

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Which countries are eligible for Canada’s SDS?

You may apply for Canada’s Study Direct Stream if you’re a legal resident in:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Senegal
  • The Philippines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Vietnam

If you live in another country (even if you’re a citizen of one of the countries above), you have to apply through the regular study permit application process.

What documents do you need to apply to Canada’s Student Direct Stream?

You must include the following documents with your SDS study permit application:

A major requirement to apply for your study permit through the Study Direct Stream is submitting a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) showing you have an investment account with a balance of CAD $20,635 or higher. Check out our analysis on which bank is the best option for your GIC.

Your GIC account is an investment. You will get the money back from your GIC once you start your studies in Canada. Usually, students receive an initial payment of $6,190.50 when they first arrive in Canada, then the remaining $14,444.50 is invested and paid out in instalments, with interest.

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Is there an advantage to going through the SDS compared to the regular study permit route?

In addition to faster processing times, applying through the Student Direct stream generally means you are more likely to receive an approval of your study permit. Even with an increased chance of success, applicants still need to make sure they are submitting a strong application to submit their intention of being a student in Canada.

There are some disadvantages so going through the Student Direct Stream though. These include:

  1. higher upfront cost- applicants need to show a GIC of $20,635 CAD and proof that they have paid their first year tuition. In comparison, for regular study permit applications, applicants only need to show they have sufficient funds in the form of a bank statement.
  2. language tests- applicants under the SDS program, must submit valid language test results.

What are the costs for applying under the Student Direct Stream?

The government processing fee is the same as a regular study permit, that is $150 CAD. Applicants will also need to pay the biometrics fee of $85 CAD, if applicable.

In addition to the government processing fees, students need to show proof that they have paid the first year of tuition fees and have a GIC of $20,635 CAD.

Pro tip: check the refund policy of your DLI in the event your SDS study permit is refused.

What language tests are valid for the Student Direct Stream?

Since August 10th 2023, IRCC have expanded the list of accepted language test results. The minimum score required depends on the language test sat. SDS applicants can now sit the following language tests:

  • Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Test and receive an overall score of at least 60;
  • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) scoring CLB level 7 or higher;
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic with a minimum of 6;
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General with a minimum of 7;
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic and receive an overall score of at least 60;
  • Test de connaissance du français (TCF) Canada scoring at least CLB level 7;
  • Test de connaissance du français (TCF) tout public with a minimum overall score of 400;
  • Test d’évaluation de français (TEF) Canada scoring at least CLB level 7;
  • Test d’évaluation de français (TEF) 5 épreuves with a minimum overall score of 400. Note the Lexique/structure is not required for SDS applicants;
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT with a minimum overall score of 83.

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Can my family join me in my SDS study permit application?

If eligible, your spouse, common-law partner, or dependent children may also have their visitor, study or work permits processed faster.

As a future student in Canada, your spouse may be eligible to apply for an open work permit if you’re studying a Masters or PhD program or one of the specified professional programs.

Your dependent children can apply for a study permit so they can also study in Canada.

How to apply for a study permit through the SDS.

All SDS applicants must apply online via the IRCC online portal. Paper applications for SDS applications are not accepted.

Transition to permanent residence from Canada’s Student Direct Stream

Entering 2024, there were around 1 million international students in Canada, representing a huge increase since just a few years previously. In 2022 alone, over 500,000 international students activated their Canadian study permits. These figures are particularly significant in that they have surpassed Canada’s International Education Strategy goal of 450,000 international students in Canada by 2023, years ahead of schedule.

Students from India and China together make up more than half of Canada’s international student cohort. More than 320,000 Indian students were in Canada as of December 2022.

One major reason why the SDS stream and Canada more broadly have been so successful in attracting record numbers of international students is the opportunity for many students to remain in the country upon graduation.

SDS to Express Entry

International students in Canada, whether they have availed of the study direct stream or not, may be eligible to work both during and immediately after their studies, and may plot a path towards permanent residence from the get-go, mainly thanks to the advantages of the Express Entry immigration selection system.

Under Express Entry, graduates of Canadian institutions may obtain bonus points for the studies – more than candidates who studied outside Canada. A recent IRCC Express Entry report shows that 25% of all invitations to apply for permanent residence issued in 2022 went to graduates of colleges and universities in Canada.

SDS to PNP

International students and graduates in Canada may also review their immigration options under the Provincial Nominee Programs, as many PNP streams aim to help students and graduates set down permanent roots in Canada. In fact, international students made up more than 50% of the provincial nominees in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and Manitoba, and more than 40% of provincial nominees in British Columbia and Nova Scotia based on figures from 2021.

International graduates in Canada are also in a strong position to transition eventually to permanent resident status.

Get help with your study permit application

If you need help applying for your Canadian study permit, we recommend booking a consultation with Doherty Fultz Immigration.

Doherty Fultz Immigration is a Canadian immigration consultancy founded by immigrants to Canada for immigrants to Canada. Led by Anthony Doherty (R#510956) and Cassandra Fultz (#514356), the team’s 40+ years of experience can empower you towards settling in Canada.

 

 

About the author

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Rebecca Major

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Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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