Student Direct Stream (SDS) Program:- Requirements, Eligibility Criteria & Application Process

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    Vaishnavi Agrawal

    Study Abroad Expert

    Good News for international students willing to study in Canada!!

    The Student Direct Stream (SDS) program is the solution to all those struggles of documentation and visa processing time while applying to Canadian universitiesApplicants will now be able to get their study permits processed within 20 calendar days if the eligibility criteria are met. 

    On June 8, 2018, the Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched a new program called Student Direct Stream (SDS) to make the entire process of visa application easier and faster. The SDS program is considered a replacement of the previous student visa program, Student Partners Program (SPP). Wherein, only the applications submitted online will be considered and all the paper applications will be subjected to regular study permit application time. Though almost everybody is submitting their application online these days, this factor does not affect our choice of decision. The SDS processing is available to the legal residents of China, India, Morocco, Pakistan, The Philippines, Vietnam, and Senegal. Applicants who are citizens on-paper but not staying in their domestic country are not eligible to apply for SDS processing.

    Benefits of applying through an SDS Program-

    • The number of institutions listed in the SDS system is ten times those listed under SPP. These colleges under SDS System provide a guaranteed post-graduation work permit unlike most private institutions in Canada. 
    • SDS has replaced SPP, which was started in 2009.
      The foremost change in the new rule is the band requirement. Students need 6 bands in each module to apply under the SDS rule.
    • SPP was linked with college whereas SDS is linked with students directly.

    In this article, we will be discussing the major aspects of the Student Direct Stream program such as its Application Process, Eligibility Criteria, Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC), Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs).

    What are the eligibility criteria for the Student Direct Stream Processing?

    To be eligible for faster and easier processing through the Student Direct Stream, the applicant must fulfill this revised set of criteria- 

    • Proof of Language Proficiency:- Students must complete either of the following tests within 2 years of submitting the SDS application:-
      • IELTS (International English Language Testing System) with a minimum overall score of 6.0 and no module below 6.0 in each language section: reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
      • Test d’Evaluation de Français (TEF) equivalent to a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score of minimum 7 for each skill: 207 (Reading), 310 (Writing), 310 (Speaking), and 249 (Listening).
    • Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC):- Applicants must submit proof of a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of a minimum amount CAD10,000 from banks insured by the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) or listed on the IRCC SDS website.
    • Payment of Tuition Fees:- It is compulsory to submit the proof of full payment of tuition for the applicant’s first year of study instead of the semesterly fees submitted earlier. If any student has a band score of 6 in each module but paying a fee of only one semester, then the file of that student will be processed under the general category. Students can submit any of the following documents:-
      • Tuition fee receipt from the DLI
      • An official letter from the DLI confirming the payment
      • Bank receipt showing that tuition fees have been paid
    • The college or university you are applying to must have been registered in the Designated Learning Institutions (DLI) list. Which means, it must be awarded a valid DLI number. 

    The following documents are required in an SDS Visa Application. Go through them carefully, to avoid any delay in the process.

    • Transcripts:- Candidates must submit the most recent secondary as well as post-secondary educational transcripts.
    • Acceptance:- A Letter of Acceptance must be presented from a post-secondary Designated Learning Institute (DLI).
    • Proof of Medical Examination:- Students are required to undergo a thorough medical examination to stay for more than six months.
    • Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ):- Students who are planning to study in Quebec must submit a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) issued by the Ministère de l'Immigration, Diversité et Inclusion (MIDI).
    • Police Certificate:- In most cases, applicants are required to provide a valid police certificate to prove that they are law-abiding citizens with no criminal history.

    NOTE:- Students must know that SDS applications that are incomplete are rejected right away. With the exception of the biometric fee, if the application processing fee has not been paid, the application is not accepted. However, if the biometric fee is not included, the concerned authority requests the applicant for the same.

    How to apply for a Study Permit through Student Direct Stream Canada?

    Applicants must know that there is no provision for offline mode of application for the Student Direct Stream Canada. Students need to apply online along with all the necessary documents for faster processing of Study Permit.

    Apply Online:- Click Here to Apply

    Application Fee: 150 CAD

    Important Points

    • Make sure to apply online
    • Applicants can use their official account at CIC to submit their applications
    • Use a scanner or camera to create electronic copies of all the necessary documents
    • A valid credit or debit card is required to make payments
    • Using the same account, applicants can also check the status of their applications

    Guaranteed Investment Certificate(GIC)

    As per IRCC guidelines, applicants will require a minimum amount of 10,000 CAD per year to cover the living expenses in Canada. International students can meet this requirement through the purchase of GIC and submitting proof of payment.

    A Guaranteed Investment Certificate is a Canadian investment that offers a guaranteed rate of return over a fixed period of time. Most commonly, GIC is issued by trusted companies and banks which meet the following criteria:-

    • Banks must confirm that an applicant has bought a GIC by providing any one of the following documents:-
      • A letter of attestation
      • A GIC certificate
      • An Investment Directions Confirmation
      • An Investment Balance Confirmation
    • A valid financial institution must hold GIC in an investment account or a student account that can not be accessed until the applicant arrives in Canada.
    • Banks or companies must release funds to an applicant by providing:-
      • An initial lump-sum amount once the student has arrived in Canada
      • The remainder of the funds in monthly or bi-monthly instalments over 10-12 months.

    Financial Institutions offering GICs

    Applicants can get a Guaranteed Investment Certificate from financial institutions listed on the Canadian Deposit Insurance Company website. Applicants must make sure that the financial institution they choose meets the criteria for the SDS.

    Few of the eligible financial organizations offering GICs are:-

    • Bank of Beijing
    • Bank of China
    • Bank of Xian Co.Ltd
    • Bank of Montreal
    • Desjardins
    • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
    • Habib Canadian Bank
    • ICICI Bank
    • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
    • RBC Royal Bank
    • SBI Canada Bank
    • HSBC Bank of Canada
    • Scotiabank

    Prerequisite Courses and Bridging Programs of Study

    Candidates who are interested in pursuing a prerequisite course or bridging program of study at a Designated Learning Institute before the main program begins, may be eligible to apply under the SDS Canada given they meet the program eligibility requirements.

    While submitting an online application from overseas, the prerequisite course or bridging program of study must be clearly stated in the applicant’s letter of acceptance as the applicant’s main program of study will lead to a degree, certificate or diploma.

    Family Members of Study Permit Candidates under the SDS

    Family members of the students who applied for the SDS program are eligible for concurrent processing if they apply at the same time as the primary candidates. Temporary residence applications such as work permit, study permit or temporary visa applications of the accompanying family members should be submitted through the online portal as part of a family grouping.

    What is a Designated Learning Institute (DLI)?

    A designated learning institution is a school, college or university authorized by a provincial or territorial government to host international students. Overseas students who are planning to pursue their education at the undergraduate or postgraduate level must secure the Study Permit. Indian students applying under the SDS program need to obtain an acceptance letter from a DLI in order to get Study Permit. Some of the popular DLI’s for provinces of Canada are listed below:

    British Columbia Alberta Quebec Ontario
    Alexandra College University of Alberta McGill University University of Toronto
    University of the Fraser Valley St. Mary’s University University of Montreal University of Waterloo
    Northern Lights College Bow Valley College CDE College York University
    College of New Caledonia University of Calgary Royal Military College Saint-Jean Centennial College
    Columbia International College Mount Royal University Vanier College St. Lawrence College

    International students must note that a study permit is not a visa and can not, by itself, permit a student to travel to or enter Canada. Students applying to Canadian universities may also need a Canadian Student Visa or an electronic travel authorization (eTA).

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Ques:- Applicants, who are not qualified to apply for SDS program, can they apply for Canada Student Visa?

    Ans:- Yes, applicants who are not eligible to apply for SDS program can still apply for a Student Visa, however, their visa applications will be processed through the standard procedure and it will take 60 days.

    Ques:-What happens to the GIC and fees tuition, if the applicant’s Student Visa application is rejected?

    Ans:- If an applicant’s Student Visa is rejected, he/she can directly apply to the respective bank that issued his/her Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) for a full refund. For the refund of the tuition fee, applicants are advised to contact the respective university/ school.

    Ques:-Are applicants with TOEFL or PTE scores also eligible for the SDS program?

    Ans:- According to the official guidelines for the SDS program, applicants must submit the scores of IELTS exam to prove their proficiency in the English language.

    Ques:-Is there any offline mode of application for the SDS program?

    Ans:- All applicants are required to apply online via the official website’s portal as there is no provision for paper-based applications under SDS Canada.