Student Direct Stream (SDS)

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is an expedited study permit processing program for those who are applying to study in Canada at a post-secondary designated learning institution (DLI). The SDS is available to legal residents who reside in

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Senegal
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Vietnam

To be eligible, applicants must meet specific requirements by providing documentation up front.

On this page

About the SDS

Some international students can get their study permits faster using the SDS. IRCC processes most SDS applications within 20 calendar days if the eligibility requirements are met.

Foreign nationals who are eligible for SDS processing are still subject to all other eligibility and admissibility requirements under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).

Eligibility criteria

The applicant must include the following documents to be eligible for SDS processing:

  1. proof of a valid language test result that must not be more than 2 years old at the time the SDS application was received by IRCC
    • Language tests must be taken in their in-person format to be accepted for the SDS; online remotely-proctored tests will not be accepted for SDS purposes.
    • The test result must show that all four of the language abilities were tested (speaking, listening, reading and writing).
    SDS applications received before August 10, 2023:

    IRCC will only accept these valid IELTS or TEF language test results:

    • an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 6.0 or higher in each language skill: listening, reading, writing and speaking
    • a test d’évaluation de français (TEF) score that is equivalent to a Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) / Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) score of at least 7 for each ability
    SDS applications received on or after August 10, 2023:

    IRCC will accept the following valid language test results:

    • CAEL: a minimum overall score of 60;
    • CELPIP General: a score that is equivalent to a CLB score of at least 7 for each ability;
    • IELTS Academic: a minimum overall score of at least 6;
    • IELTS General: a score that is equivalent to a CLB score of at least 7 for each ability;
    • TCF Canada: a score that is equivalent to a CLB score of at least 7 for each ability;
    • TCF Tout public: a minimum overall score of 400;
    • TEF Canada: a score that is equivalent to a CLB score of at least 7 for each ability;
    • TEF 5 épreuves : a minimum overall score of 400 (“Lexique/Structure” is not required for SDS);
    • TOEFL iBTL: a minimum overall score of at least 83
    • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic: a minimum overall score of 60;

    Sub-tests and test variants not listed above, including but not limited to IELTS One Skill Retake, PTE Academic UKVI, TEFAQ, and TOEFL iBT My Best Scores, are not approved under the SDS program.

  2. proof of a guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) in the amount required for the applicant’s intended province or territory of study

    The required GIC amount depends on the SDS applicant’s intended province or /territory of study.

    For SDS applicants intending to study outside Quebec
    • SDS applications received by IRCC before January 1, 2024, will continue to be assessed using the CAN$10,000 GIC requirement in place until December 31, 2023.
    • New SDS applications received by IRCC on or after January 1, 2024, require proof of an SDS-eligible GIC in the amount of CAN$20,635 for 2024.

    New: For 2024, a single study permit applicant will need to show they have CAN $20,635, in addition to their first year of tuition and travel costs. This change applies to all new study permit applications received starting January 1, 2024. This amount reflects updated cost-of-living requirements. Going forward, this threshold will be adjusted each year, similar to other immigration programs, as Statistics Canada updates the low-income cut-off (LICO).

    Note: If the applicant has additional family members accompanying them, they also need to demonstrate that they meet the regular study permit financial requirements for each additional person.

    For SDS applicants intending to study in Quebec

    The bank that issues the GIC will

    • provide the applicant with a letter of attestation, the GIC, an Investment Directions Confirmation or an Investment Balance Confirmation
    • hold the GIC in an investment account or a student account that will be released to the study permit holder upon their arrival in Canada

    Upon the study permit holder’s entry to Canada, the bank will verify their identity before releasing any funds.

    The study permit holder receives an initial disbursement after the bank has verified their identity. It is recommended that the remaining funds be disbursed in monthly or bimonthly instalments over a period of 10 to 12 months.

  3. proof of full payment of tuition for the applicant’s first year of study

    This may be in the form of the following:

    • a receipt from the DLI
    • an official letter from the DLI confirming payment of tuition fees
    • a receipt from a bank showing that tuition fees have been paid to the DLI
    • proof that the tuition fee amount has been transferred into a repository account at the DLI to be applied to the tuition bill at a later date
  4. letter of acceptance from a post-secondary DLI
  5. most recent secondary or post-secondary educational transcript
  6. proof of completion of upfront medical examination from a panel physician for applicants

    Note: If the applicant took an upfront medical exam, they must include a copy of the IMM 1017B Upfront Medical Report form that the doctor gave them after their exam. Doctors using the eMedical system will give the applicant an information sheet print out.

In addition to the above criteria, applicants for SDS processing must include as part of their electronic application (e-application) the following documents:

Note: In most cases, the applicant is required to submit biometrics. After the applicant has submitted a complete application, including the payment of the application and biometric processing fees (if applicable), they are sent a biometric instruction letter (BIL), which includes instructions on submitting biometrics.

Officers may also request additional documents from the applicant at any time to make a decision on their application.

Officers must be satisfied that the applicant is a bona fide student and will leave Canada by the end of the period authorized for their stay.

Incomplete applications

Incomplete applications are refused. With the exception of the biometric fee, if the application processing fee has not been included or is incorrect, the application is refused. If the biometric fee is missing, the officer is to request the fee.

Family members of study permit applicants under the SDS

Family members of principal applicants who are applying under the SDS are eligible for concurrent processing if they apply at the same time as the primary applicant. For more information, see the definition of a family member in subsection R1(3).

Temporary residence applications (work permit, study permit and temporary resident visa applications) of the accompanying family members must be submitted online as part of a family grouping.

Prerequisite courses and bridging programs of study

Applicants who are taking a prerequisite course or bridging program of study at a DLI before starting their main program may be eligible to apply under the SDS, provided they meet all the program eligibility criteria.


Applicants still need to submit an e-application from overseas. However, the prerequisite course or bridging program of study must be clearly identified as such in the applicant’s letter of acceptance, and the applicant’s main program of study must lead to a degree, diploma or certificate.

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