Currently there are nearly 500,000 international students studying in the country
Posted on - Jul 10, 2018

By Victor Ing

Victor Ing

On June 8, 2018, the Honorable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced Canada’s new Student Direct Stream (SDS) program which fast tracks study permit applications for international students from China, India, Vietnam and the Philippines.

International students from these countries who meet the SDS criteria can have their study permit applications processed within 4 weeks.

International students are a key part of Canada’s immigration program. Currently there are nearly 500,000 international students studying in Canada and the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) reports that there has been a 20% increase since 2017. Statistics from the CBIE show that almost 56% of international students in Canada come from one of these countries. Similar programs to the SDS have been in place in these countries, however, IRCC has now aligned them into one collective, consistent program to enhance the processing times of applications.

Applications sent through the SDS, are processed more quickly than the regular application processing times which are currently taking approximately 7 weeks. The SDS is a perfect option for students who meet the requirements and look to begin their studies in Canada as soon as possible.

To utilize the new, fast-track system, qualifying students must demonstrate that they have the language skills and financial capability to succeed academically in Canada. In his speech, Minister Hussen emphasized the importance of improving the experience of International students in coming to Canada:

“First, we know that international students bring tremendous economic benefits to our country. They contribute approximately $12.8 billion to our Gross Domestic Product and support more than 158,000 jobs. But their contributions to Canada go well beyond that. International students make significant contributions to the schools and the colleges and the universities and the communities in which they reside in.”

With programs such as the SDS, Canada continues to move towards becoming a premiere destination for international students. As IRCC improves its international Student Program, there is intention to further expand the SDS program in 2019 to include additional participating countries.

Students who are able to meet the specific requirements may now be able to take advantage of the SDS speedy processing times, something we have noted in our Vancouver immigrant lawyer practice.

Additionally, applications that are submitted through the SDS system but do not meet the more stringent criteria will still be considered under the regular study permit application process.

The IRCC will fast track applicants who demonstrate the following:

  • a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of $10,000;
  • payment of tuition fees for their first year of study;
  • proof of graduation from a Canadian curriculum high school or provide an accepted language test demonstrating English or, French language proficiency;
  • an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution and;
  • an upfront medical examination.

Successful applicants must demonstrate a high level of language proficiency. In order to determine language proficiency in either English or French, the IRCC will accept results from an approved language testing center. Students can either obtain an English language test through IELTS and/or TEF for French and must obtain a minimum score of 6 on each of the four language abilities: reading, writing, speaking and listening.

It is important to note that an acceptance letter from a Canadian educational institution does not necessarily mean that you will qualify under the SDS. As one of the key requirements, it is essential that you are enrolled at an approved designated learning institution (DLI) for international students. Applicants who are seeking admission to English preparatory courses (ESL, EAP, or Intensive English) are not eligible for the SDS program.

Additionally, providing a GIC and proof of payment of tuition is treated as conclusive proof of financial ability, which is far more efficient than the standard requirement of having to demonstrate financial resources such as providing 6 months of bank statements.

Immigrating to Canada, is a rewarding and exciting opportunity for prospective international students, especially for students who qualify under the SDS program and are able to fast-track their immigration process. Reports from CBIE show that 95% of international students recommend Canada as a study destination and 51% of international students plan to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

Once a student has obtained a study permit, they can potentially be on the path to obtaining permanent residence status in Canada. If permanent residence in Canada is your ultimate goal, be sure to register at a school that will qualify for a post-graduate work permit (PGWP) and begin your pathway to Canadian permanent resident faster with the new SDS international application process.


Victor Ing is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada, and provides a full range of immigration services.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Victor Ing or call him at 1-604-689-5444.

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