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Difference between SDS and Non-SDS visa in Canada

What is SDS visa in Canada? 

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) was formerly the Student Partner Program (SPP). It is an initiative by Canadian Immigration Services for processing student visa applications and is available to citizens of certain countries. In order to be eligible for the SDS visa, students must meet certain requirements, including having a letter of acceptance from a Canadian educational institution. The SDS is available to legal residents who reside in

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

To be eligible, applicants must meet specific requirements by providing documentation upfront. Most often, international students can get their study permits faster by using the SDS. IRCC processes most SDS applications within 20 calendar days if the eligibility requirements are met. However, due to the high volume of applications, the current timeframe is over 11 weeks. 

Only applications submitted electronically are eligible for SDS processing. All paper applications are processed under the regular study permit application stream and are subject to the associated processing times.

 What is a Non-SDS visa in Canada? 

The Non-SDS is a general category for applying for a visa application to study in Canada. Under this process, candidates who are not capable of meeting the SDS requirements get a chance. The requirements are also different as more documents are required.

SDS Document Requirements for Visa Application

  • Official academic transcripts, including the 12th-grade master sheet. Candidates must have obtained at least 55%  aggregate marks in undergraduate courses.
  • Undergraduate degree or advanced diploma. Applicants must have a minimum of 50% or above to pursue postgraduate courses. 
  • Statement of Purpose
  • 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 falling under SDS. 
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of $10,000 (INR 7.4 lakhs) to cover the cost of living. 
  • Digital Photographs 
  • Proof of previous work experience
  • Receipt of tuition fees
  • Proof of necessary medical tests
  • Visa application fees of $150 (INR 11K approx) 

Non-SDS Document Requirements for Visa Application (timeframe : 3 months)

  • Official academic transcripts, including the 12th mark sheet. Candidates must have scored at least 55% aggregate marks for undergraduate courses. 
  • Undergraduate degree or advanced diploma. Applicants must have a minimum of 50% or above to pursue PG courses. 
  • English proficiency test scores with IELTS of minimum 6.0 for UG and an overall band of 6.5 for PG. PTE is also acceptable. (as per the requirement of the course, even 5.5 is acceptable for individual bands. Make sure to confirm it with your agent) 
  • 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 SDS

Step 1– Log into your IRCC account and sign in with your GCKey user ID and password. Accept all the terms and conditions and fill out the identification validation.

Step 2- 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. Here are some guidelines for submitting your application. 

  • You must be logged into your own account to submit an application. You cannot use another person’s account. 
  • If you select the exit button, your information will be saved and you will return to your account home page. You can continue your application at any time by logging into your account and selecting the e-Application link under the in-progress section. Please note that you have 60 days to submit your application. The number of days remaining to submit your application appears on your account home page. If your application is not submitted within 60 days, it will automatically be deleted. 
  • After you have electronically signed your application, you will be asked to pay your fees. Your fees must be paid with a credit card. You must provide the credit card information to complete your payment. IRCC accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Certain Prepaid Cards. 

Top reasons to choose SDS over Non-SDS 

Now, that you are acquainted with the distinctions between SDS and Non-SDS, here are the main reasons why the SDS approach is considered better than Non-SDS for visa applications.

  • Less Documentation: Under the SDS category, candidates don’t have to submit many documents to provide financial eligibility. Whereas under the Non- SDS approach, the list of documents required is extensive.
  • Fast Process:  The SDS process is streamlined and simple as compared to Non-SDS. The entire process takes only around 45 days.

We hope you are clear on the main differences between SDS and Non-SDS visa processes for Canada. We recommend the SDS process as it is way less complicated and only requires minimal paperwork. If you have any doubts or questions regarding the visa process, feel free to get in touch with one of our experienced education counsellors and we will be happy to assist you. 

Abe Services
Abe Services | July 28, 2022

Being a pioneering overseas education consultancy in India, we at Abe Services aims to provide valuable insights for students seeking higher education opportunities across many international destinations. With the help of a highly dedicated and skilled team of academic experts, we keep ourselves in track with the latest trends and updates in the world of overseas education. We hope that our informative articles will help students embark on a promising academic journey abroad.

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