Study Destination

SDS vs Non SDS Visa in Canada: What's the Difference?


Did you know the SDS visa has revolutionized the student visa process for Canada? It's a game-changer! Understanding this pathway, alongside the Non-SDS alternative, is crucial for a successful study venture in Canada. But what is it?

The SDS (Student Direct Stream) visa, introduced to expedite and streamline the visa application process, has specific criteria different from the traditional Non-SDS route. Both are tailored to cater to distinct sets of prerequisites, making your choice essential for a smooth journey into Canadian academia.

Embark on an enlightening journey through our comprehensive guide, demystifying the SDS and Non-SDS visa applications for Canada. Dive into the nuances, grasp the document essentials, and unlock the strategy best suited for your study ambitions.

For a stress-free visa application process, trust Yocket Premium. We ensure personalized guidance, empowering your Canadian education dream with a hassle-free journey from application to arrival.

Table of Contents:

  1. What are SDS & Non SDS Visa in Canada?
  2. Eligibility Criteria for SDS Canada
  3. Eligibility Criteria for Non SDS Canada
  4. Documents Required for SDS & Non SDS Visa in Canada
  5. Application Process for SDS and Non SDS Canada
  6. List of Colleges and Universities for Non SDS Canada
  7. Difference Between SDS and Non SDS Canada

What are SDS & Non-SDS Visa in Canada?

Canadian student visas are pivotal for international students aspiring to study in Canada. The SDS program is specifically designed to expedite the study permit process, offering faster application processing times compared to the conventional route, Non-SDS.

SDS involves a streamlined process tailored to provide quicker study permit approvals, whereas Non-SDS encompasses the general category for applying for a Canadian student visa. Each has its distinct prerequisites, benefits, and limitations, making it essential to delve into the specifics of each pathway.

Delve deeper into the realm of SDS and Non-SDS visa categories to gain insights into their unique requirements, the advantages they offer, and potential drawbacks. Unravel the intricacies to make an informed choice that aligns with your academic aspirations and timeline.

Eligibility Criteria for SDS Canada

  • 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.
  • All international students must acquire an acceptance letter from the Designated Learning Institute (DLI).
  • 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.
  • A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of CAD 10,000 (INR 600607)  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 funds by validating their identity. 
  • 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.

Understanding and meeting these SDS eligibility criteria is a pivotal step in pursuing your educational aspirations in Canada. For more information on accepted English Language Proficiency exams, explore our comprehensive guide detailing the list of exams acknowledged for studying in Canada.

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

Eligibility Criteria for Non SDS Canada

When it comes to the Non-Student Direct Stream (Non-SDS) Canada visa, several criteria and procedures require attention to ensure a seamless application process. Below are the essential eligibility requirements for students planning to pursue their educational journey through the Non-SDS program:

  • Academic Credentials: International students aspiring for a Non-SDS Canada visa need to present official transcripts from their Class 12 examinations. For undergraduate programs, a minimum aggregate of 55% in Class 12 is required, while a minimum of 50% or above is necessary for postgraduate or advanced diploma courses in Canada.
  • Acceptance Letter from a Designated Learning Institute (DLI): Securing an acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institute is another essential criterion under the Non-SDS visa category.
  • English Language Proficiency: Non-SDS applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English by presenting valid language proficiency certificates, which can be IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE. While IELTS scores of a minimum of 6.0 for undergraduate and 6.5 for postgraduate studies are usually preferred, other tests are also accepted.
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC): To ensure financial security, students applying under Non SDS need to invest CAD 10,000 (INR 600607) in a Guaranteed Investment Certificate, which offers additional funds for emergencies upon arriving in Canada. Once you land in Canada, you will have full access to the amount. Some banks that offer GIC include SBI, ICICI, and CIBC.
  • Tuition Fee Payment: Non-SDS applicants can deposit tuition fees for the initial six months instead of a full year to the Designated Learning Institute. Nevertheless, providing evidence of financial stability through various financial documents is crucial.
  • Statement of Purpose: Writing a compelling Statement of Purpose (SOP) plays a significant role in the application process. Your SOP should articulate your motivation, educational background, achievements, and reasons for studying in Canada

Documents Required for SDS and Non SDS Visa 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 Category in Canada

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

  • Visit the Immigration Refugee Citizenship (IRCC) website and create your GCKey account.
  • Log in and fill in all the necessary details for the SDS/Non-SDS visa in Canada in accordance with your eligibility.
  • Upload scanned copies of required documents.
  • The fees here are divided into: Application fees and Biometrics fees. The application fee is CAD 150 (INR 9009) per person, while the biometrics fee is CAD 85 (INR 5105).
  • 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.
  • When your biometrics form is accepted, you may be asked to go through medical exams and background verification too.
  • 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.
  • 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 Under Non SDS in Canada

Considering pursuing studies in Canada under the Non-Student Direct Stream (Non-SDS) program? Several esteemed colleges and universities await your application. Here's a glimpse of some of the prominent educational institutions accepting students under the Non SDS visa:

  • 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

Consider this a starting point for your educational journey in Canada. For a comprehensive list of Colleges and Universities under the SDS Canada program and further insights into their programs and offerings, explore our recommended list at Yocket. Let Yocket be your guide to discovering the perfect educational fit in Canada for your aspirations and future endeavors.

Suggested: Complete list of  Colleges and Universities under SDS Canada

Difference Between SDS & Non SDS Canada

When aiming to study in Canada, comprehending the differences between the Student Direct Stream (SDS) and Non-Student Direct Stream (Non-SDS) visa paths is crucial. Let's explore a comparative overview of both pathways:

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 decision between SDS and Non-SDS is pivotal in your pursuit of education in Canada. Understanding the nuances, processing times and specific requirements of each stream will aid in making an informed choice that aligns with your eligibility and preferences. To delve deeper into the specifics of each visa stream and discover the one that best matches your academic aspirations, explore Yocket's resources.

From the Desk of Yocket

Do you know about the two primary visa streams for studying in Canada - SDS and Non SDS? The Student Direct Stream (SDS) offers an expedited visa process, whereas Non-SDS is the traditional route for international students. These visa paths involve different criteria, requirements, and procedures.

Comprehending the intricacies of SDS and non-SDS visa applications is crucial. Yocket Premium not only simplifies these processes but ensures accuracy, guiding you seamlessly through every step of your journey toward studying in Canada.

Anticipating a study opportunity in Canada for 2024? Seize the chance now! Secure your student visa with Yocket and step closer to your educational endeavors. With our guidance, tackle the intricacies of visa applications effortlessly, ensuring a smooth transition into Canadian academic life. Yocket is your trusted ally in realizing your academic aspirations in Canada. Apply with us today, and pave the way for your future in Canadian education.

Frequently Asked Question for SDS and Non SDS Visa Canada

What is non-SDS in Canada?

What is the non-SDS full form?

What is non-SDS visa processing time?

What are the non-SDS colleges in Canada?

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