Difference Between SDS and Non-SDS Visa Applications

updated on 19 March 2024
Difference Between SDS and Non-SDS Visa Applications
Difference Between SDS and Non-SDS Visa Applications

Here we are discussing about Difference between SDS and Non-SDS Visa applications.

You are planning to study in Canada, and then you must have needed clarification on terms such as SDS and Non-SDS during the visa application process.

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. Non- SDS is a general visa application process for temporary residence for work, study, and immigration in Canada. It is open to all international travelers irrespective of country of origin. Non-SDS visa helps those candidates who cannot meet the visa requirements to study and work temporarily in Canada

Now you must have got a specific idea about SDS vs Non-SDS for Canada visa applications. But keep on reading this article to know more about the difference between SDS and Non-SDS visa applications. 

Ready to transform your life through the power of international education? Dive into the reasons why studying abroad can be a life-changing experience.

SDS and Non- SDS Visa Applications- Key difference 

SDS                                                                                                    Non-SDS

For study permit only                                         For study, work, or migration

Visa processed in 20 days                                   Visa processed in 45 - 90 days

Apply online only                                               Apply either online or offline

GIC is mandatory                                               GIC is not mandatory

IELTS is mandatory                                               IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE

Applicable for certain countries                         Applicable for all countries

Success rate is 75 - 85%                                     Success rate is 65%

Payment of tuition fees for one year                         Applicants may pay tuition fees for 6 months

Looking to streamline your study permit application process in Canada? Explore the Direct Stream program through this official link from the Government of Canada.

What is SDS (Student Direct Stream) Visa for Canada?

Student Direct Stream (SDS) is a program to bring efficiency and effectiveness in the Canada Visa Application.  Earlier program of SPP or Student Partner Program has been now replaced by SDS to assist Indian students to apply for Canada study visa with lesser processing time.

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

SDS Visa Applications- Eligibility Criteria

  • The students are required to obtain 6 bands in each module in IELTS test to apply for a visa under the SDS program.
  • The students are required to deposit the entire tuition fee of the first year at the Canadian institution instead of the semester fee.
  • The institution either college or university should possess a valid Designated Learning Institution (DLI) number.
  • The student should obtain a GIC of $10,000.

Important Note - The English Language Proficiency test scorecards are valid for 2 years of the SDS application date.

Some banks in India that offer GIC include:

  • ICICI Bank
  • Scotia Bank
  • SBI Canada
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
  • HSBC Bank of Canada

Application Process for SDS Visa

The Candidate must fill out the application online for an SDS Visa. There’s no offline application for SDS. Therefore, one should have 

  • Instructions guide for the application form.
  • Cameras and Scanner to create digital photocopies of the documents required.
  • Debit or Credit card for online payment.
  • Applicants can submit the biometrics online by visiting the Canada official visa website and submitting the biometrics fee.

Important Note - 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.

List of SDS Colleges

  • The Lawrence College.
  • The Sault College
  • The parkland college
  • College of the Rockies
  • The George Brown college
  • Algonquin College
  • The LaSalle College
  • The Dausan College etc

Advantages of SDS

  • It needs lesser documents
  • Faster processing time
  • Has a high success rate if a student has all the required qualifications and documents

SDS Visa Application Fee

SDS Visa application fees of $150 (INR 11K- 12K approx)

What is Non-SDS visa for Canada?

Non - SDS (Student Direct Stream) is a general category visa for temporary residence, work, and study in Canada. Students who missed their chance through SDS visa subsequently apply here with more supportive documents. Candidates can apply either online or offline, with the application fee and biometric fee. 

Non- SDS Visa Applications- Eligibility Criteria 

  • Letter of Acceptance from DLI institution.
  • Medical exam confirmation document copy
  • GIC of $10,000 proof  (not mandatory)
  • Proof of paid tuition fee
  • Financial Documents (For ensuring future tuition fee plan)
  • Proof of IELTS test score

Application Process for Non-SDS Visa 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Review all your answers.
  • Check your personal checklist and documents. Add any requirements if you missed out on any.
  • Submit your application.

Important Note- Generally, a non -SDS visa application takes two months to process even though the authorities state that all types of visa applications are processed within 180 days.

List of Non-SDS Colleges

  • Columbia International College
  • Douglas College
  • Medicine Hat College
  • Norquest College
  • Camosun College
  • Vancouver Community College
  • Lakeland College
  • Dawson College
  • Niagara College
  • Langara College
  • Canadore College

Advantages of Non-SDS

Non-SDS is preferred by most applicants because:

  • Applicants prefer PTE and TOEFL over the IELTS test, and they are also accepted in non-SDS.
  • Applicants cannot pay full years tuition fees in one go.
  • Applicants cannot open a GIC account of 10000 CAD as they also have the option to show proof of funds for their living expenses.

Non- SDS Visa Application Fee

Visa application fees of $150 (INR 11K- 12 K approx)

What is the Succes Rate of SDS and Non- SDS Visa

If a student cannot meet the financial requirements of SDS, they can apply for a Non-SDS. The Non-SDS is relatively lower than the SDS category. 

This is because the number of documents in SDS is less than in Non-SDS. SDS success rate in 2021 was 71%, while Non-SDS was at 40%. 


The student visa application process is an important part of studying in Canada journey. Hence, it is essential to gather all the information regarding both SDS and Non-SDS visa in Canada to make your choice. 

This article has covered the Difference between SDS and Non-SDS Visa Applications and other imperative details to ease your dilemma. We hope you like this article!

FAQs on SDS vs. Non-SDS Visa Applications for Canada:

1. Which program is faster, SDS or Non-SDS?

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) boasts significantly faster processing times compared to the Non-SDS route. SDS applications aim for approval within 20 days, whereas non-SDS applications can take several months. This can be a game-changer for students with specific start dates for their Canadian programs.

2. Am I eligible for the SDS program?

Eligibility for SDS is restricted to citizens of specific countries. These currently include India, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Senegal. If your country isn't on the list, you'll need to apply through the Non-SDS stream.

3. Is the application process different between SDS and Non-SDS?

Absolutely. SDS offers a streamlined online application process, while Non-SDS allows for both online and offline submissions. Additionally, SDS typically requires fewer documents compared to Non-SDS, making it a more efficient option.

An IIT Delhi IIM Ahmedabad alumni initiative

Alpha Education Abroad is an initiative by IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad alumni. The firm helps students get admitted to top universities overseas in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, and many other countries. It allows students to apply for graduation as well as post-graduation courses abroad. It also helps students get admitted to top 1 year MBA programs such as ISB and IIM Ahmedabad in India

Read more