The Ultimate Guide to Canada’s Student Direct Stream (SDS)

The Ultimate Guide to Canada's Student Direct Stream (SDS) A Smooth Path to Studying in Canada

What’s Inside?

Table of Contents

Canada has established itself as a top choice for international students due to its prestigious universities and the opportunities it provides for academic growth. To improve the application process for prospective students, the Canadian government has implemented the Student Direct Stream (SDS) program.


  1. What is Study Direct Stream (SDS)?
  2. Summary of the process to study in Canada via the Student Direct Stream (SDS)
  3. Eligibility Requirements
  4. Step-by-Step Application Process for SDS
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. Additional Resources and Support for SDS Program Applicants

What is Study Direct Stream (SDS)? 

Study Direct Stream (SDS) is Canada’s simplified visa application process for international students. It offers faster processing times (within 20 days) and a convenient application experience. SDS aims to attract talented students from select countries. 

This guide will explore the Study Direct Stream (SDS) program. We will cover the eligibility criteria, the necessary documents, and the step-by-step application process. Moreover, we will also provide helpful tips and insights to increase your chances of obtaining a study permit in Canada through the SDS program.

Here’s a concise summary of the process to study in Canada via the Student Direct Stream (SDS):

  • Eligibility: Meet IRCC’s criteria for language proficiency, financial stability, and acceptance at a DLI.
  • Application: Fill out the form accurately and submit it online with required documents.
  • Language Proficiency: Prepare for language tests (IELTS, TOEFL, CELPIP) using online resources.
  • Financial Planning: Plan finances carefully for tuition, living expenses, and return transportation.
  • SDS Processing: IRCC processes applications under SDS for faster study permit issuance.

Let’s dive in and explore the ins and outs of Canada’s Student Direct Stream!

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for SDS, students must meet specific eligibility criteria. These criteria include:


1. Acceptance To A Designated Learning Institution (DLI):

To be eligible for the SDS program, students need to first get accepted into a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada. You can find up to date DLI list by clicking here.

Note: Prerequisite courses and bridging programs of study

If applicants are taking a prerequisite course or bridging program at a designated learning institution (DLI) before their main program, they may be eligible to apply under the SDS program as long as they meet all the program eligibility criteria.


2. Proof Of Financial Resources:

To qualify for the SDS program, students must show proof of financial resources to cover their tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation. 

Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC), is an investment valued at CAD 10,000 or as specified by IRCC for the province of arrival. GICs are used by international students to demonstrate they have enough funds for their education and living costs in Canada. The money is typically kept in a special account accessible upon their arrival in Canada.

 Pro Tip: The specific requirements and details for GICs may vary depending on the financial institution offering the GIC. Students need to research and understand the terms and conditions of the GIC before making any commitments. You can find a list of financial institution that offer GIC here.


3. Proof Of Full Payment Of Tuition

For the applicant’s first year of study is required as part of the SDS application. This proof typically includes a receipt or confirmation from the educational institution showing that the tuition fees have been paid in full. 

4. Medical Examination:

As part of the SDS program in Canada, international students must undergo a medical check before applying for a study permit. This examination is done upfront to ensure that students do not have any medical conditions that could be a risk to public health or require extensive healthcare resources in Canada. The examination must be done by an approved panel physician designated by Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The physician will assess the student’s health through tests: such as physical examination, blood tests, and chest X-rays. The results will be sent directly to IRCC by the panel physician.

5. English/French Language Proficiency:

Language proficiency is an important requirement for the SDS program. Students need to demonstrate their proficiency in either English or French by taking a recognized language test like IELTS, TOEFL*, PTE*, and TEF. These tests assess the student’s reading, writing, speaking, and listening abilities. Meeting the minimum required scores is crucial to fulfilling the language proficiency requirement. The language test report should include the student’s name, test date, test score, and the logo or stamp of the issuing organization. It’s important to make sure that the test result is valid and falls within a 2-year timeframe from the date the SDS application was received.

*Sources: ETS (2023): TOEFL iBT® Approved for Canada’s Student Direct Stream.

*Sources: PearsonPTE (2023): PTE Academic recognised for Student Direct Stream visas into Canada.


 Hot Tip:
TOEFL Test Takers Preparing for TOEFL? Enhance your Speaking skills with My Speaking Score, a reputable platform for TOEFL Speaking preparation. It’s a valuable resource to boost your language proficiency and succeed in your Canadian education journey through the SDS program.

Note: In most cases, SDS applicants are required to submit biometrics as part of their application. Biometrics include fingerprints and digital photographs, and they are used for identity verification and security purposes. To submit biometrics, applicants need to visit a designated biometrics collection centre. Detailed instructions and information regarding biometrics collection will be provided by IRCC during the application process. 

Step-by-Step Application Process for Student Direct Stream (SDS)

The application process for SDS involves several steps, starting with gathering the required documents, creating an online account, completing the application form accurately, paying the application fee, and finally, submitting the application online. It is crucial to pay attention to detail, ensure accurate and complete documentation, and submit the application well in advance.

  • Gather Required Documents: Students need to collect all the necessary documents, such as acceptance letters, financial documents, and language test results. Submitting accurate and complete documentation is essential. Double-check that you have included all the required documents.
  • Create an Online Account: Students must create an online account through the Government of Canada’s official website.
  • Complete the Application Form: Students need to fill out the study permit application form accurately and provide all the required information. Pay close attention to the details of your application. Fill out all the required forms accurately, ensuring that information is consistent across different documents. Any discrepancies or errors could lead to delays or a rejection of your application.
  • Pay the Application Fee: Students must pay the study permit application fee online.
  • Submit the Application: Once the application is complete, students can submit it online through their account.
 Pro Tip:
Submit Your Application Early: Submit your application as early as possible to allow for processing time. It will also give you additional time to address any issues or provide further documentation, if necessary.

The Study Direct Stream (SDS) program has simplified the visa application process for international students aspiring to study in Canada. By understanding the eligibility requirements, preparing accurate documentation, and following the step-by-step application process, you can enhance your chances of obtaining a study permit through SDS. Remember to start early, be thorough, and seek support when needed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

 Q: Can I work while studying under the SDS program?

A: Yes, students under the SDS program are eligible to work part-time during their studies and full-time during scheduled breaks, such as summer holidays.

Q: How long does it take to process an SDS application?

A: The processing time for SDS applications may vary (might take up to 12 weeks), but the goal is to process complete applications within 20 calendar days.

Q: Can I apply for a study permit under the SDS program if I have a dependent?

A: Yes, you can include your spouse or common-law partner and dependent children in your SDS application. They will also need to provide additional documentation.

Q: Can I apply for a study permit outside of the SDS program?

A: Yes, if you are not eligible for the SDS program, you can still apply for a study permit through the regular study permit application process.

Q: Which countries are eligible for the SDS program?

 A: These are the countries whose students are currently eligible for the SDS program: Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines Trinidad, Tobago, and Vietnam

*Please note that the information provided is subject to change, and it is always recommended to consult the official IRCC website or seek guidance from a qualified immigration professional for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding the SDS program.

*Sources: IRCC:

Additional Resources and Support for Student Direct Stream (SDS) Program Applicants

Additional resources and support are available to assist students applying for the SDS program. These resources can help you better understand the process and improve your chances of a successful application. Here are a few recommended resources:

  • SDS Program Information: Students can find detailed information about the SDS program on the official website of Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This includes eligibility criteria, application procedures, and necessary documents. Visit IRCC website here.
  • Language Test Preparation: To meet the language proficiency requirements for SDS, it’s crucial to prepare for language tests like TEF, IELTS, PTE or TOEFL. You can enhance your language skills and achieve the required scores by utilizing online resources, practice tests, and study materials. Websites like and offer practice materials and valuable information about these tests.
  • Financial Planning: Students should carefully plan their finances to ensure they have sufficient funds to cover tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation. It is advisable to consult financial advisors or utilize resources that provide guidance on financial planning for international students.
  • International Student Services: Many DLIs in Canada offer dedicated support services for international students. These services include assistance with accommodation, orientation programs, academic advising, and access to resources for personal and academic success.
  • Online Forums and Communities: Engaging with online forums and communities can provide valuable insights and advice from other international students who have gone through the SDS application process. Websites like and have active communities where you can ask questions and share experiences.


The more information and support you have, the better prepared you will be for a successful SDS application. Good luck on your journey to studying in Canada!

Embark on your educational journey to Canada through the Student Direct Stream (SDS) program. Discover the streamlined application process, eligibility criteria, and expert insights to ensure a successful study permit application. From language proficiency to