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Canada adds Latin American and Caribbean to expedited student visa programme

Canada announced a significant expansion of its Student Direct Stream (SDS) on 9 July 2021, with students from seven new countries throughout the Americas now eligible to participate in the expedited programme for Canadian study permits.

Students from Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago may now apply via SDS, an online option that offers faster processing times for eligible study permit applicants.

The addition of Brazil and Colombia to the list of SDS countries is especially notable as both have emerged as important growth markets for Canadian institutions and schools over the last several years.

How it works is that students are asked to provide additional qualifying information at the time of application for a Canadian study permit in return for faster processing times. The programme has a stated target to process applications within 20 days, and students are asked to include a number of items with their applications, most notably:

  • Proof of required language skills (as indicated by an IELTS score of at least 6 for English-language studies or a Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens score of at least 7 for those planning to study in French);
  • A certain level of financial security, to be shown through a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of CAD 10 ,000 and proof of tuition payment for the first year of studies.

With the additional countries announced this month, SDS is now available to eligible students in 14 markets worldwide. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) – the governmental department handling the SDS process – continues to expressed its commitment “to the continued expansion of the SDS in support of Canada’s International Education Strategy (2019–2024) and its goal of welcoming more international students from a broad range of source countries.”

Full details on programme eligibility and the SDS application process are available from IRCC.