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Difference Between SDS and non-SDS Colleges in Canada


Students that are looking forward to pursuing higher education abroad should consider Canada as a great option. When applying for a visa, one might get confused about the difference between SDS and non-SDS. These two terms are not very standard, but they are relevant to your visa application.

Before moving forward, we should understand the primary difference between the concepts. SDS stands for Student Direct Stream, formally known as SPP (Student Partners Program). On the other hand, non-SDS is known as a General Category. Non-SDS is the best option for those international students who do not meet the basic requirements for a student visa in Canada. International students from countries like India, Brazil, etc., can avail this option easily.

What is SDS?

Students Partner Program (SPP), also known as SDS (Student Direct Stream), is an initiative of the Immigration Services of Canada. Student Direct Stream is the fastest approach for international students to apply directly to pursue education in Canada. There are specific requirements for students to fulfil, and then they can apply only through an online medium. The Immigration Refugees Citizenship of Canada sets the conditions under the Student Direct Stream.

What is Non-SDS?

The international students who were not able to fulfil the requirements of Student Direct Stream can avail of the non-SDS option, which is a standard visa application process to get a Temporary Residency in Canada. The requisites tend to differ as this route also requires more documents.

SDS Visa Requirements

Language Proficiency

Students must have a minimum score of 6.0 to apply for an SDS. They can appear for IELTS Academic or IELTS General as well.

Travel Document

Candidates who want to apply for a student visa must have a valid travel document. If the date of the travel document expires, the visa will not be issued.

GIC (Guaranteed Investment Certificate)

The candidates are required to deposit 10000 Canadian Dollars as GIC. This deposit requirement ensures that the student is secured in Canada and has the needed funds. Candidates will receive a letter of attestation, the Guaranteed Investment Certificate, the Investment Directions Confirmation, or the Investment Balance Confirmation. Before releasing the funds to the students after entry to Canada, the bank must validate the candidate's identity.

Tuition Fee

Full payment of the 1st year tuition fee is one of the basic requirements for the students. The candidates have to provide proof in the form of a receipt.

Some more requirements:

  • Authorized academic transcripts, including the high school mark sheet. Candidates must have scored at least 55% marks.
  • Undergraduate degree or advanced diploma. Applicants must have a minimum of 50% marks.
  • SOP (Statement of Purpose)
  • Offer letter from the colleges
  • Digital Photographs
  • Proof of prior work experience
  • Proof of necessary medical tests
  • Visa application fees of $150

Non-SDS Visa Requirements

The Non-SDS requirements are mentioned below:

1. Language Proficiency Test

Tests like IELTS, PTE or TOEFL are required to prove their language proficiency.

2. Travel document

A valid travel document is required for the candidates before applying for a non-SDS

3. Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC)

The candidates are required to deposit 10000 Canadian Dollars as GIC. This deposit requirement ensures that the student is secured in Canada and has the needed funds.

4. Tuition Fee

Under non-SDS, candidates have to provide proof that they have deposited the tuition fees for six months

5. Medical Examination

Some basic medical tests must be submitted before applying for a non-SDS.

6. Some more requirements

  • Educational Documents
  • Digital Pictures
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Financial Documents
  • Offer letter from the colleges
  • Proof of previous work experience
  • Income tax return documents
  • Receipt of tuition fees
  • Visa application fees

SDS Application Process

The candidate must fill out the application online for a fast study permit process. There is no paper application for SDS. Therefore, one should make sure to align all your documents. The following checklist must be considered:

  • Instructions guide for one's application form
  • Camera and Scanner to create digital photocopies of the documents required
  • Debit or a credit card for the online payment
  • Submit the biometrics online by visiting the official website and submitting the biometrics fee.

Non-SDS Application Process

  • Step1: Create your online account on the CIC Canada website, and get your user ID and password. Accept the terms and conditions.
  • Step2: Fill out the identification validation area after creating the account.
  • Step 3: Enter the personal reference code after starting the online application. 
  • (If one does not have the personal reference code, then determine eligibility by answering the basic questions. In the end, save the application and exit the questionnaire.)
  • Step 4: After answering the required questions, the page will tell you whether you are eligible for the application or not. If the pop-up announces you as eligible, you are all set for the next steps.
  • Step 5: The applicant should review all the given answers
  • Step 6: Check the checklist as well as the required documents. You can add any other documents here if you have missed some.
  • Step 7: You are all set to apply now. 

List of Student Direct Stream Institutions in Canada

Most of the institutions of Canada have their DLN (Designated Learning Number) that enlists the colleges as part of the Student Direct Stream (SDS) programme collaboration Canada's Student Direct Stream (SDS) colleges are as follows:

  • The Sheridan College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning
  • The George Brown College
  • Red River College of Applied Arts, Science & Technology
  • The Niagara College
  • The Parkland College
  • The Fleming College
  • The Loyalist College of Applied Arts & Technology
  • The Canadore College
  • Algonquin College
  • Camosun College
  • College of New Caledonia
  • College of the Rockies
  • Columbia International College
  • Douglas College
  • Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning
  • The Vancouver Island University
  • The Northern Lights College
  • The Red River College of Applied Arts, Science & Technology
  • The Columbia International College
  • The Lakeland College
  • The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
  • The Lasalle College
  • The Seneca College of Applied Arts & Technology
  • University of the Fraser Valley
  • Vancouver Community College
  • Vancouver Island University
  • Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, Winnipeg
  • Parkland College
  • Saskatchewan Polytechnic
  • Bow Valley College, Calgary
  • Lakeland College
  • The Sault College
  • The Northern College
  • The Mohawk College of Applied Arts & Technology
  • The Lawrence College
  • The Dawson College
  • The Clair College of Applied Arts & Technology
  • Centennial College of Applied Arts & Technology
  • Canadore College -North Bay, Ontario
  • Cambrian College of Applied Arts & Technology
  • The Alberta Bible College
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  • Langara College
  • North Island College
  • Northern Lights College
  • Okanagan College
  • Medicine Hat College
  • Norquest College
  • Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
  • Assiniboine Community College
  • Selkirk College
  • The Seneca College Applied Arts & Technology
  • The Niagara College
  • The Loyalist College of Applied Arts & Technology
  • The Lambton College of Applied Arts & Technology
  • The Georgian College of Arts & Technology
  • The Fanshawe College of Applied Arts & Technology
  • The Durham College
  • The Confederation College of Applied Arts & Technology
  • The Conestoga College

List of non-SDS Colleges in Canada

Several Non-SDS colleges in Canada provide undergraduate, postgraduate, certificate, diploma, and doctoral programs in various disciplines.

The following is a list of notable Non-SDS colleges and universities in Canada:

Acsenda School Of Management

Thompson Rivers University

Cape Breton University

Fairleigh Dickinson University

University Canada West

Cambrian College

Mcmaster University

University Of Northern British Columbia

Memorial University Of Newfoundland

Brock University

University Of Windsor

King’s University College

Lakehead University

Royal Roads University

York University

Why should you Choose SDS Over non-SDS?

Now, one has become familiar with the primary difference between Student Direct Stream and the Non-SDS; the following can be said as the main reasons why an SDS approach is considered better than the Non-SDS for a visa application.

  • Less Documentation required: Students don't have to submit many documents to prove their financial eligibility under the Student Direct Stream. On the other hand, in the Non-SDS approach, the number of documents is more.
  • Fast application Process: Student Direct Stream approach is much more streamlined and straightforward than the Non-SDS. The total time it takes is around 45 days.

If an applicant cannot meet the financial requirements of SDS, they can apply for a non-SDS visa for Canada. Here, you can rest assured that you can obtain all the relevant information on non-SDS in Canada, non-SDS meaning, and non-SDS band requirements. The non-SDS success rate is relatively low than the SDS category. This is because the number of documents is less in SDS than in non-SDS. As per the IRCC, the SDS success rate in 2021 was 71%, whereas, for the non-SDS applicants, it was 40%.

If you are confused about the approach or the documents required, our counsellors will assist you in choosing the best path to reach your academic goals without hassle. AECC Global has helped lakhs of students to reach their goals and you are next!

FAQs About Difference Between SDS and non-SDS Colleges

What is the meaning of non-SDS colleges in Canada?

The non-SDS colleges provide admission to students who apply for a Canadian work permit through the standardised process. 

What are non-SDS rules in Canada?

Language Proficiency Test, travel document, Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GEC) etc. are a few requirements for non-SDS. 

What is the meaning of SDS colleges in Canada?

SDS colleges are those that come with DLI numbers and accept students applying under the SDS visa program. 

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