Difference between SDS and Non-SDS for Canada Student Visa

29 Mar 2023
Difference between SDS and Non-SDS for Canada Student Visa | Abroad Cube

What is SDS?

SDS stands for Student Direct Stream, also formerly known as Student Partner Program, and was launched in June 2018. This program is for international students who wish to study at a post-secondary Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada. SDS allows students from India & 13 nationalities to avail of their Study visa in 4-6 weeks, whereas if you apply for a student visa under Non-SDS category, it might take up to 2-3 months. You can apply for SDS only if you meet the criteria of SDS:

  • You must be a citizen of India, Philippines, China, Vietnam, Antigua & Barbuda, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Senegal, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago.
  • You must have a valid result from a language test, be it English (IELTS) or French (TEF). The minimum score of 6 bands overall and not less than 6 in each module of IELTS is required. 
  • You need a valid proof of your Admission letter from DLI-approved Institution/College/University.
  • You must pay the tuition fee for the first year.
  • You must also have a Guaranteed Investment Certificate of CAD10,000 to cover your living expenses. Checkout the available Banks for GIC Canada and open your account with same-day* facility.
  • Proof of the completion of upfront medical examination (if required)

So, if you meet the above criteria, you can apply for SDS in Canada.

What is Non-SDS?

Non-SDS, Non-Student Direct Stream, is a general visa application for study, work or moving to Canada. Students who do not meet the criteria of SDS can apply for Non-SDS. Non-SDS has a slow processing speed compared to SDS, but it requires less number of documents. Criteria for Non-SDS:

  • Students must have a valid language testing result, be it IELTS, PTE, or TOEFL, depending on the language of their choice.
  • Students have to pay minimum tuition fees of six months.
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificate is entirely optional but recommended in Non-SDS. Open your GIC Account now
  • Non-SDS is not limited to any particular country. Anyone across the world can apply through Non-SDS.

So, those who meet the criteria mentioned above can apply for a student visa application through the Non-SDS program.


Is GIC mandatory for SDS and Non-SDS?

Suppose a student applies for a study visa to Canada with the SDS program. In that case, a Guaranteed Investment Certificate of CAD10,000 issued by an approved Canadian Banking Institution is mandatory to cover your living expenses throughout the first year of your studies. But if a student does not meet the criteria of SDS, then they can prefer the Non-SDS program. A Guaranteed Investment Certificate of CAD10,000 is completely optional for the student under the Non-SDS program. 


Difference between SDS and Non-SDS

Must be accepted in DLI-approved College/University only Can enroll in any private/public college or Non-DLI institutions as well
Must pay the first year tuition fee in full Must pay 1st semester Tuition Fees
Must have minimum 6 bands in IELTS overall and each module May have less than 6 bands in IELTS or any other Language Exam
A GIC of minimum CA$10,000 is mandatory GIC account is optional but recommended
Must submit upfront medical examination Can submit Medical examination at later stage


What are the requirements for SDS ?

There are several requirements for the students who are going to Canada under the SDS program:

  1. You must be a citizen of one of the 14 nationalities such as India. 
  2. A student must pay minimum one year tuition fee. If your course length is equal to 1 year, you must pay full tuition fees, otherwise you can pay first 2 semesters fees.
  3. A student must have a valid IELTS result with a minimum 6.0 band score overall and in each module.
  4. The offer letter must be issued by the Designated Learning Institution (DLI).
  5. A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of CAD10,000 is mandatory to cover your living expenses throughout the first-year of studies.
  6. It is mandatory to submit proof of an upfront medical examination.


Which is better, SDS or Non-SDS ?

Student Direct Stream (SDS) is considered better than Non-Student Direct Stream (Non-SDS) because it requires less number of documents and has a fast processing speed.  According to the success rate of SDS and Non-SDS, the SDS success rate was 71% in 2021 whereas Non-SDS had a success rate of 40%. So it is often advisable for international students to go with SDS.


What is the application process for SDS ?

The application process for SDS and Non-SDS is quite the same. With the SDS program, a student needs to upload a more significant number of documents as compared to Non-SDS. Follow the given steps to complete the application process with the SDS program:

  1. Visit the official website of IRCC and create an IRCC account.
  2. Once your account is created, complete the online application process.
  3. Now, upload the required documents and pay CAD 150 for Study Permit Fees and CAD 85 for Biometric Fees (if applicable).
  4. After paying the fee, visit the nearest VFS Global office on your Biometric Appointment date and submit your biometrics (Fingerprints & Photo).
  5. Wait for the final decision. 
  6. Once your Visa Application is approved, you must submit your passport and get your TRV (Visa Sticker) stamped.


Things to be noted

  • The TOEFL, PTE, and Duolingo are not acceptable as English Proficiency Tests. Currently, only IELTS Academic is acceptable. 
  • You must pay the total course fees if your course duration is one year.
  • Attaching more financial support documents is recommended to strengthen your Visa application. The papers can be Income Tax Returns, Balance certificates, or Education loans. 
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Mian Umair 6 months ago

Its really good information for me and those people who takes interest in this field. Thank you very much for share this amazing blog.

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