Posted on - May 14, 2019

By Maken Mashhour

Maken Mashhour

As more international students strive to obtain their Canadian permanent residence status by coming to study in Canada, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has implemented the Student Direct Stream (SDS) offering speedier processing times for study permit applications for applicants from India, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The rate of the students coming to Canada continues to rise significantly each year. According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), in 2018 there were 572,415 international students in Canada. This number was 16% higher than the previous year. More interestingly, 60% of the international students were from the four countries included in the SDS program introduced on June 8, 2018.

In recognition of the increased number of international students, IRCC further enhanced its SDS program on May 1, 2019. When the program was introduced in June of last year, study permit applications were to have been processed within 4 weeks. As of May 1, 2019 the 4 week processing time has been reduced to 20 calendar days! This is good news and an ideal program for international students who wish to begin their studies in Canada as soon as possible.

For an international student to qualify under the SDS program, the applicant must 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.

Although these requirements could be demanding for some students, applicants should understand that these requirements also make it easier for the Immigration Officer to review and approve their study permit application faster; hence the new 20 day processing time.

As the number of international students continue to increase, hopefully IRCC will expand the SDS program to other countries as well. Providing international students with shorter processing times, will allow Canada to attract more international students, which could have significant benefits to Canada. According to the Honorable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of IRCC:

“international students…contribute approximately $12.8 billion to our Gross Domestic Product and support more than 148,000 jobs…international students make significant contributions to the schools and the colleges and the universities and the communities in which they reside in.”

Until IRCC expands its SDS program to other countries, international students should make a proper and a timely submission of their study permit applications by including all the required documents to avoid unnecessary delays, and possible refusals


Maken Mashhour is a US attorney and a Vancouver immigration practitioner at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada, and provides a full range of immigration services.

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