A student visa is required for international students to study in Canada. Know the difference between SDS and non-SDS visa, eligibility & application process.
If you are looking to pursue higher education in Canada, you must know the difference between SDS and Non-SDS. The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is an initiative by Canadian Immigration Authorities which allows students to apply for Canadian visa under the SDS category. Non-SDS, on the other hand, is a general visa application process for those seeking temporary residence in Canada for work, study, or immigration.
Table of Contents
- Overview of Difference Between SDS and Non-SDS Category
- What is SDS?
- SDS Visa Requirements
- Application Process for SDS
- List of SDS Colleges in Canada
- What is Non-SDS?
- Non-SDS Visa Requirements
- Application Process for Non-SDS
- Why Should you Choose SDS Over Non-SDS?
Overview of Difference Between SDS and Non-SDS Category
SDS is a faster method of processing visa applications. The table below shows a comparison of SDS and non-SDS visa categories:
Fewer documents required
More number of documents needed
The average processing time is 20 days
The average processing time is around 2 to 3 months
GIC is mandatory
GIC is not mandatory
Only IELTS scores are accepted
TOEFL, IELTS, PTE scores are accepted
Payment of tuition fees for one year
Students may pay tuition fees for six months
Higher success rate
Lower success rate as compared to SDS visa
What is SDS?
SDS stands for Student Direct Stream, which was formerly known as Students Partner Program (SPP). Students wishing to study in Canada can apply for student visas under the SDS category. Through the SDS method, visa applications are processed quickly and efficiently. The application for SDS can, however, only be submitted online. In addition, students must fulfill certain requirements outlined by the Immigration Refugees Citizenship Canada under the SDS category.
SDS Visa Requirements
To apply through Student Direct Stream, candidates must meet the following visa requirements:
- Official academic transcripts: Academic transcripts and certificates from previous institutions, including mark sheets of class 10th, 12th, diploma, or graduation, etc. To apply for undergraduate programs, candidates must have a minimum of 55% aggregate marks. Moreover, an applicant must have at least 50% marks or higher to apply for postgraduate programs.
- Statement of Purpose: Whether you apply through SDS or non-SDS, a purpose statement is required for obtaining a student visa. It helps the visa officer understand the candidate's profile and interests. Note that there is a difference between the SOP for the Canadian High Commission and the SOP written for Canadian universities.
- English Proficiency test scores: You need to take IELTS Academic or IELTS general. An overall minimum score of 6.0 is required for UG courses and 6.5 for PG courses. Scorecards of the English Language Proficiency test are valid for two years following the SDS application date.
- Letter of Acceptance: Students must provide the offer letter received from the Canadian Designated Learning Institute (DLI) under SDS.
- Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC): You need to deposit at least CAD 10,000 (INR 7.4 lakhs) as a GIC. This money ensures that you have enough funds to cover your expenses while studying in Canada. GIC Canada is offered by various banks like ICICI, CIBC, SBI, etc.
- Digital Photographs: Students must submit their digital pictures with specifications such as 35X45 and an 80% zoom white background.
- A valid passport
- Proof of medical examination
- Evidence of previous work experience
- Receipt of tuition fees
- Visa application fees of $150 (around INR 11,000)
Application Process for SDS
For faster processing of your study permit, you must apply online. There is no paper application for Student Direct Stream. Therefore, make sure to align all your documents before applying. Here’s the checklist:
- Instruction guide for your application form
- Scanner or camera to make digital copies of your supporting documents
- Valid credit/debit card for the payment
- Give your biometrics. Visit the official website, answer the asked questions and submit the biometric fee.
List of SDS Colleges in Canada
There is a comprehensive list of Canadian colleges and universities that fall under the SDS category. The list below includes some of the SDS colleges:
- George Brown College
- Red River College
- Humber College
- Parkland College
- Fleming College
- Loyalist College
- Canadore College
- Vancouver Island University
- Northern Lights College
- Lakeland College
- Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
- Seneca College
- Sault College
- Mohawk College
- Fanshawe College
What is Non-SDS?
The Non-SDS is a general method to apply for a student visa to study in Canada. Students who are unable to meet the SDS requirements get a chance to apply under this category. The visa requirements also vary as more documents are required while applying through the Non-SDS approach.
Non-SDS Visa Requirements
Students must meet the following visa requirements to apply through non-SDS:
- Official academic transcripts, including the 12th mark sheet. Candidates must have scored at least 55% aggregate marks for undergraduate courses.
- Undergraduate degree of advanced diploma. Applicants must have a minimum of 50% or above to pursue postgraduate courses.
- English proficiency test scores with IELTS of minimum 6.0 for UG and an overall band of 6.5 for PG.
- Offer letter from the colleges participating under Non-SDS.
- Proof of previous work experience and payslips for the last 3 months.
- Proof of financial funds covering bank savings, student loans, investments, etc.
- Income tax return documents or form 16 either of the candidate or the sponsor
- Receipt of tuition fees
- Proof of necessary medical tests
- Visa application fees of $150 (INR 11k approx)
Application Process for Non-SDS
Here is the step-by-step procedure to apply for a student visa through the non-SDS method:
- Step1: Visit the official website of CIC Canada and sign in with your GCKey user ID and password. Accept all the terms and conditions and fill out the identification validation.
- Step 2: Start your application and enter the personal reference code. If you do not have the code, determine your eligibility by answering some questions and applying online. Finally, save and exit the questionnaire.
- Step 3: After answering all the questions, you will get a pop-up on whether you are eligible or not. If you are eligible, let’s follow the next step.
- Step 4: Review all your answers.
- Step 5: Check your personal checklist and documents. Add any requirements if you missed out on any.
- Step 6: Submit your application.
Why Should you Choose SDS Over Non-SDS?
As you have seen the difference between SDS and Non-SDS methods, it is clear that SDS is a better visa processing method when compared to non-SDS. Some of the reasons to choose SDS over non-SDS are given below:
One of the advantages of the SDS program over non-SDS is that you do not have to submit a lot of documents to prove your financial eligibility, while under non-SDS the numbers of documents that have to be submitted are too many. Two of the important documentation that is needed for the SDS program include an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6.0 or higher and a Guaranteed Investment Certificate of C$ 10,000 or more.
SDS program makes the entire process streamlined and simpler. The entire processing takes around 45 days. However, you are required to meet all the requirements specified in the program. This is especially beneficial to the students who want to move to their college or university at the earliest.
Higher Success Rate
If you examine the success rate of the SDS program vs the non-SDS program, you will find that despite the fall of 15.9% in the year 2020 due to the lockdown, SDS program acceptance rates remain high. In 2020 the approval rates for the SDS program have been trending at 63%. After looking at the difference between SDS and Non-SDS, you must have understood that SDS method is a better choice for processing visa applications as it certainly saves a lot of time and confusion for the applicants.