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SDS and Non-SDS Visa Application


SDS and Non-SDS Visa Application – these are not just terms, but keys to your Canadian study journey. Unsure which one suits you? We're here to make it simple. This blog sheds light on SDS and Non-SDS visa application. Wondering about "What is SDS?" or how the SDS and Non-SDS visa application process unfolds? We've got all the answers. More than an article, this is your straightforward guide to understanding SDS and Non-SDS Canada visa applications. Ready to demystify the visa process? Let's dive in! 

What is SDS?

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is a streamlined visa process for students from specific countries, including India. It's popular for quicker processing and less financial documentation.

Key Points:

  1. Processing Time: SDS visa applications are usually processed within 20 calendar days, a significant advantage for students eager to start their studies.
  2. Financial Proof: A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of CAD 10,000 (around ₹5,99,000 INR) is required to demonstrate financial self-sufficiency for the first year in Canada.
  3. Education Loan Evidence: Evidence of payment for the first year's tuition and a verified education loan from a recognised bank are prerequisites.
  4. IELTS Scores: For the SDS System for Indian Students, a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 in each band (listening, reading, writing, speaking) is essential.
  5. Medical Exam: An upfront medical exam is mandatory, ensuring a smoother application process.

What is Non-SDS?

Non-SDS is the standard visa application process for students who do not qualify for SDS, offering a more flexible approach with different requirements.

Key Points:

  1. Processing Time Variation: Non-SDS visa applications have varying processing times, often longer than SDS, usually taking several weeks.
  2. Extensive Financial Documentation: Applicants must provide more detailed financial proof, including bank statements and financial affidavits.
  3. Flexible Language Requirements: The language proficiency requirements for Non-SDS Canada visa applications vary, depending on the educational institution's criteria.
  4. Documentation Flexibility: This route allows for a broader range of acceptable documentation, offering flexibility to the applicant.
  5. Loan Proof Not Mandatory: For Non-SDS visa applications, submitting a student/education loan proof is not compulsory but can strengthen the application.

Difference between SDS and Non-SDS visa applications

Understanding the key differences between SDS and Non-SDS Visa Application is crucial for students planning their academic journey to Canada. Here's a detailed comparison to guide you through:

Key Parameters



Processing Time

Usually within 20 days

Varies, typically longer than SDS

Financial Proof

GIC of CAD 10,000 (₹5,99,000 INR)

Detailed financial documentation required

Education Loan Evidence

Mandatory, with proof of first year’s tuition

Not mandatory, but beneficial

IELTS Score Requirement

Minimum 6.0 in each band

Varies by institution

Medical Exam

Required upfront

Required, timing varies

Cost of Application

Approx CAD 150 (₹8,995 INR) for visa

Similar, with the potential for additional costs


Streamlined, less extensive

More comprehensive and detailed

Flexibility in Process

Less flexible, strict criteria

More flexible in terms of criteria and docs

Application Reach

Limited to certain countries (e.g., India)

Available to all nationalities

To help you gain more clarity on this topic and understand better the differences between them, here is the real-life experience of Anjali, an aspiring software engineer from Bangalore, who faced a similar dilemma.

For Anjali, with an acceptance letter from a prestigious Canadian university, she was puzzled by the visa process. Should she choose SDS with its faster processing but strict financial proof or the more flexible Non-SDS? Weighing her options, Anjali decided on SDS, meeting the financial requirements through a ₹5,99,000 INR education loan. The decision paid off. Within 20 days, her visa was approved, paving the way to her dream course. Her story highlights the importance of informed decisions in navigating overseas education pathways.

English Language Scores Accepted for SDS Visa Applications

The Student Direct Stream (SDS), particularly for the SDS System for Indian Students, has specific English language requirements:

Detailed Insights:

  • IELTS Scores: For SDS visa applications, a minimum score of 6.0 in each band (listening, reading, writing, and speaking) is mandatory.
  • TOEFL Requirements: A minimum score of 80 in TOEFL iBT is acceptable for SDS candidates.
  • PTE Academic Scores: Applicants need a minimum score of 50 on the Pearson Test of English Academic.
  • CAEL Scores: The Canadian Academic English Language test requires a minimum score of 60 for SDS eligibility.
  • Score Validity: The test scores should be less than two years old at the time of the SDS and Non-SDS Canada visa applications.

Visa Requirements for SDS and Non-SDS Category

When it comes to the SDS and Non-SDS visa application process, understanding the financial and health requirements is vital. Here's a breakdown with exact figures and requirements:

Specific Details:

  • Financial Proof:
    • SDS: A Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of CAD 10,000 (around ₹5,99,000 INR) is essential.
    • Non-SDS: Requires detailed financial proofs like bank statements, and affidavits of support, which may vary in amounts.
  • Tuition Fee Payment:
    • SDS: Proof of payment for the first year's tuition fee is a prerequisite.
    • Non-SDS: No specific upfront tuition payment requirement; however, evidence of financial capacity to pay tuition is advised.
  • Medical Exam:
    • SDS: Mandatory upfront medical examination.
    • Non-SDS: Timing for the medical exam is more flexible and can be scheduled according to the applicant's convenience.
  • Application Fee:
    • Both SDS and Non-SDS visa application come with a fee of approximately CAD 150 (₹8,995 INR).
  • Processing Time:
    • SDS: Processing is quicker, typically within 20 calendar days.
    • Non-SDS: Processing time varies, generally taking longer than the SDS stream.

Documents required and application process for SDS and Non-SDS visa application

When preparing for an SDS and Non-SDS visa application, it's essential to know the specific documents required and understand the application process.

Detailed Insights:

  • Application Forms: Both SDS and Non-SDS require completed IMM 1294 and IMM 5645 forms.
  • Proof of Acceptance: A valid acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada is mandatory.
  • Financial Documentation:
  • SDS: Proof of a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of CAD 10,000 (approximately ₹5,99,000 INR).
  • Non-SDS: More comprehensive financial proofs like bank statements or financial affidavits.
  • Language Proficiency Proof:
  • SDS: IELTS or equivalent test score, meeting the minimum language requirements.
  • Non-SDS: Depending on the chosen institution's requirements.
  • Passport and Photographs: Valid passport and recent photographs as per the visa specifications.

Why choose an SDS visa over a Non-SDS visa?

Opting for an SDS visa over a Non-SDS visa can be advantageous for students, especially those under the SDS System for Indian Students.

Key Advantages:

  • Faster Processing Time: SDS applications are typically processed within 20 days.
  • Simplified Financial Proof: Only a GIC of CAD 10,000 (approx. ₹5,99,000 INR) is required, making the process straightforward.
  • Higher Visa Approval Rate: SDS tends to have a higher acceptance rate due to its streamlined process.
  • Reduced Documentation: Fewer documents are required for SDS, simplifying the application.
  • Language Proficiency Clarity: Clear requirements for English proficiency with specified IELTS or equivalent scores.

As we conclude our journey through the intricate world of SDS and Non-SDS Visa Application, it's clear that understanding these processes is crucial for your successful study venture in Canada. Whether you opt for the streamlined SDS visa application process or the flexible Non-SDS route, being well-informed is key. Ready to take the next step towards your Canadian educational dream? Connect with AECC today, and let's turn your study abroad aspirations into a reality.


For the non-SDS category, is it mandatory to submit proof of a student/education loan from a bank?

It's not mandatory but recommended to strengthen your application.

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