Understanding the Student Direct Stream (SDS)
The Student Direct Stream is a program offered by the Canadian Government that allows individuals planning to study in Canada and who are legal residents in specific countries to expedite their study permit processing time. The program was launched in 2018 and replaced the former Student Partners Program (SPP). Currently, the SDS program promises a standard turnaround time of 20 days, significantly faster than the average processing time of 42 days for the regular study permit stream.
Important Distinction: Study Permit vs. Student Visa
A study permit in Canada is not the same as a student visa.
A Study Permit is an official document issued by the Government of Canada that allows international students to study at an educational institution in Canada for a specified period of time. Once a study permit is approved, citizens will receive an electronic entry permit (eTA), which makes it easier for them to travel to Canada.
A Student Visa is a visa issued to international students that allows them to enter and stay in Canada to study. It can be issued in conjunction with a study permit or as a separate document, depending on the student’s citizenship and other factors.
Eligibility for the Student Direct Stream
To be eligible for the SDS, applicants must currently be legal residents in one of the following countries:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Important: Applicants cannot be residing in Canada during the application process. Similarly, if you are a citizen of one of the listed countries but reside elsewhere (e.g., a Peruvian citizen living in the United Kingdom), you must apply through the regular study permit application stream.
Benefiting Family Members: Faster Processing
In addition to the SDS applicant, direct family members, including spouses, common-law partners, and dependent children, may also benefit from faster processing of their visitor visa, work permit, or study permit applications. However, their applications must be completed and submitted simultaneously with the SDS applicant’s application. To simplify this process, it is recommended to indicate the inclusion of family members in the online application to complete their applications concurrently.
Application Requirements for the SDS
Application requirements may vary depending on the intended study program and place of residence. For example, students going to Quebec need a certificate of acceptance to Quebec (CAQ) issued by the Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration.
General SDS Eligibility Requirements:
- Acceptance letter from a designated learning institution.
- Proof of payment of first-year tuition.
- Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of C$10,000.
- Academic transcript(s).
- Language test results meeting the minimum scores.
Currently Accepted Tests:
- IELTS Academic or General: 6.0 or higher in each language skill (reading, writing, speaking, and listening).
- Test d’évaluation de français (TEF): Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score of 7 or higher in each language skill for French studies.
Additional Tests Accepted After August 10, 2023:
- CAEL: minimum score of 60
- CELPIP General: a score equivalent to a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score of 7 or higher in each skill
- Pearson PTE Academic: minimum score of 60
- TOEFL iBT: minimum score of 83
All test scores include speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
Important: Students must take these tests in person. Online tests administered remotely are not accepted for SDS applicants.
As Canada experiences an increasing number of international students, the acceptance of a wider range of language proficiency tests is expected to enhance accessibility to studying in Canada. eTalk will provide ongoing coverage on significant developments related to this initiative.