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SDS V/S Non SDS: What is SDS and Non SDS Visa in Canada?

Yocket Editorial Team
SDS V/S Non SDS: What is SDS and Non SDS Visa in Canada? Image

Are you planning to study in Canada and experience its diverse culture, welcoming people and world-class universities? If so, you must be aware of all the relevant information about moving to Canada as an international student, the visa process being one of them. There are two ways to apply for a student visa in Canada. One is SDS and the other is known as Non SDS. Both processes require certain eligibility criteria and important documents to process your student visa on time.

To know more about it do go through this blog. Here we discuss everything you need to know about SDS and Non SDS visa Canada along with the application process, required documents, their differences, and much more.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is SDS and Non SDS in Canada?
  2. Eligibility Criteria for SDS Canada
  3. Documents Required for SDS Canada
  4. Eligibility Criteria for Non SDS Canada
  5. Documents Required for Non SDS Canada
  6. Application Process for SDS and Non SDS Canada
  7. List of Colleges and Universities for Non SDS Canada
  8. Difference Between SDS and Non SDS Canada
  9. Frequently Asked Questions for SDS and Non SDS Canada


What is SDS and Non SDS in Canada?

Student Direct Stream program is the process of acquiring study permits faster than usual for international students in Canada. Non SDS visa on the other hand refers to the general category of applying for a Canadian student visa.

Both SDS and Non SDS have different requirements, advantages and disadvantages. So, let us look at them one by one:


Eligibility Criteria for SDS Canada

  1. The first and foremost requirement for an SDS visa is to have a permanent residence certificate from the countries that come under the SDS Canada visa policy.
  2. All international students must acquire an acceptance letter from the Designated Learning Institute (DLI).
  3. Under the SDS Canada Visa for international students, the payment of tuition fees for the first year is mandatory. The receipt from the DLI is required as a proof for the same. The students also need to present the bank receipt to confirm that the transaction is done from the student’s account to the respective university account.
  4. A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of CAD 10,000 is another requirement for SDS Canada for Indian students. The certificate is given after the purchase of GIC along with a letter of attestation and Investment Directions Confirmation. The banks keep the funds in the investment or student account till he/she arrives in Canada. Once the students land in Canada, he/she can release the fund by validating their identity. 
  5. English Language Proficiency is a major requirement in all the steps involved in your study abroad journey. Canada too asks for the same during SDS file processing time. The scorecard of IELTS is only taken into consideration for this purpose. You may either opt for IELTS Academic or General. The English Language Proficiency test scorecards are valid for 2 years of the SDS application date.

Suggested: List of English Language Proficiency exams accepted to study in Canada!


Eligibility Criteria for Non SDS Canada

  1. All international students applying for Non SDS visa must have official transcripts since class 12. If you are applying for undergraduate courses in Canada, you must have an aggregate of 55% in your class 12 examinations. Whereas a minimum of 50% or above is required to pursue postgraduate or advanced diploma courses in Canada.
  2. The second important criterion amongst Non SDS Canada requirements is to have an acceptance letter from a DLI. 
  3. Thirdly, the students must fulfill the Non SDS IELTS requirement. Students applying for Non SDS visa must have an English Language Proficiency certificate to prove their grip on the language. While IELTS is the most popular ELP test in Canada, TOEFL and PTE are also accepted now. For IELTS you must score a minimum of 6.0 for UG and 6.5 for PG. 
  4. According to Non SDS Canada requirement 2021, the students must deposit an amount of CAD 10,000 as a Guaranteed Investment Certificate. This is to ensure that as a student you are secured in Canada and have additional funds to fall back upon in case of emergency. Once you land in Canada, you will have full access to the amount. Some banks that offer GIC include:
  • SBI
  • CIBC
  1. Paying the entire tuition fees is not a feasible option for many students. Under the Non SDS visa requirements, students may deposit the fees for the initial six months instead of one year to the Designated Learning Institute (DLI). However, the students must ensure to portray their financial stability. They may submit other relevant documents as proof of financial stability.
  2. For Non SDS Canada students need to submit financial documents which confirm their financial stability such as Proof of Income (Income Tax Returns, Form-16, J-Forms). In addition to this, you may also add proof of liquid assets in the form of Bank statements, GPF, Fixed Deposits, etc which show the financial status of your overall family.
  3. Statement of purpose plays a significant role in terms Non SDS Canada requirement 2022. You need to write SOP for both SDS and Non SDS. It is the space wherein you need to convince the authorities about your decision of studying in Canada. Form your SOP by focusing on the particular course you want to pursue, your background history, relevant achievements, etc.


Documents Required for SDS and Non SDS Canada

  • A copy of the acceptance letter from a post-secondary DLI
  • A copy of the upfront medical exam confirmation document (if required)
  • A police certificate (if required)
  • Proof that you have a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) CAD 10,000
  • Proof of payment of tuition fees for their first year of study
  • Copies of educational transcripts
  • Proof of language proficiency
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Representative form
  • Identity proof
  • Receipt of application fee for the Study Direct Stream process
  • Any other documents of valid evidence as asked by the Visa officers


Application Process for SDS and Non SDS Canada

The application process for SDS and Non SDS visa is quite similar. You just need to choose either of the options while filling the form and proceeding with your application. A step-by-step guide to applying for SDS and Non SDS visa Canada is as follows:

  1. Visit the Immigration Refugee Citizenship (IRCC) website and create your GCKey account.
  2. Log in and fill in all the necessary details for the SDS/Non SDS visa Canada in accordance with your eligibility.
  3. Upload scanned copies of required documents.
  4. The fees here are divided into: Application fees and Biometrics fees. The application fee is CAD 150 per person, while the biometrics fee is CAD 85.
  5. After the payment of the fee, you will receive the link to your biometrics request letter. You need to provide biometrics (fingerprints and photo) information for your application to begin processing.
  6. When your biometrics form is accepted, you may be asked to go through medical exams and background verification too.
  7. Once your visa is approved you will receive a letter of introduction, an electronic travel authorization (eTA), or a temporary resident visa to enter Canada as an international student. When you arrive in Canada, the letter of introduction and temporary resident visa will be verified by the concerned authorities at the port of entry. It will be the deciding factor whether or not you meet the requirements to study in Canada.
  8. If you clear all the eligibility criteria the offer at the port of entry will finally issue your study permit.


List of Colleges and Universities Non SDS Canada

There are many colleges and universities in Canada under the Non SDS visa. The popular ones include:

  • University of Fraser Valley
  • Vancouver Community College
  • Vancouver Island University
  • Bow Valley College, Calgary
  • Lakeland College
  • Lasalle College
  • Lawrence College
  • Dawson College
  • Alberta Bible College
  • Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology
  • Niagara College
  • Langara College
  • Canadore College

Suggested: Complete list of  Colleges and Universities under SDS Canada


Overview of Difference Between SDS and Non SDS Canada

Our discussion SDS and Non SDS visa can be summarized in the following table of comparison:

SDS Visa

Non SDS Visa

Lesser Documents Required

More Documents Required

Processed within 20 days on average

Processed within 2 to 3 months

GIC Compulsory

GIC is Not Compulsory

Only IELTS Accepted


Tuition Fees to be paid for 1 year

Tuition Fees may be paid for 6 months

Higher Success Rate

Comparatively Less Success Rate

The student visa application process is an important part of your studying in Canada journey. Hence, it is important to gather all the information regarding both SDS and Non SDS visa in Canada to make your choice. Based on your eligibility criteria and other preferences choose the visa process that best suits you. 


Frequently Asked Question for SDS and Non SDS Visa Canada

  1. What is non SDS in Canada?

Ans. Non SDS Canada is the general category for applying for a student visa in Canada. Although SDS is the preferred mode of visa amongst students today, non SDS visa has its own share of perks or benefits.


  1. What is non SDS full form?

Ans. Non SDS stands for Non Student Direct Stream program in Canada.


  1. What is non SDS visa success rate?

Ans. As of 2021, the non SDS visa success rate is


  1. What is non SDS visa processing time?

Ans. Students applying through non SDS process need to wait for a duration of 2 to 3 months to get their student visa processed by the Government of Canada. 


  1. What are the non SDS colleges in Canada?

Ans. Apart from the ones already mentioned, some of the other non SDS Colleges in Canada include:

  • Columbia International College
  • Camosun College
  • Norquest College
  • Medicine Hat College
  • Douglas College

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