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April 8, 2024

Studying in Canada: An updated guide to applying for Canada’s Student Direct Stream in 2024

The process of applying for a Canadian study permit has undergone changes recently, affecting many candidates that will apply for expedited processing through the Student Direct Stream (SDS) in 2024.

These changes were introduced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to strengthen the integrity of Canada’s international student program.

Here is a step-by-step guide for how to apply for a study permit in Canada through the SDS program.

1. Determine your eligibility for the SDS

International students who are legal residents of the following countries may have the opportunity to fast-track their study permit application through Canada’s Student Direct Stream (SDS):

Antigua and Barbuda
Costa Rica
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago

SDS permit applicants from the listed countries may get their permit approved by IRCC in 20 calendar days. In contrast, those who are not eligible for the SDS have an expected processing time of 10 weeks for applications submitted from outside Canada (IRCC defines these timelines).

Benefit from TD International Student GIC Program

2. Get a Letter of Acceptance

An important step is to apply to your preferred Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI) and wait to see if you are given a Letter of Acceptance (LOA). DLIs are the only schools in Canada that are permitted to admit international students. IRCC provides a list of DLIs on their official website.

3. Gather your documents

As part of your SDS application, you must provide IRCC with supporting documents, including:

A copy of a letter of acceptance from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
If applicable, a confirmation of your upfront medical exam.
If applicable, get a police certificate before you apply
Proof that you have covered your travel costs;
Proof that your tuition fees for the first year of study are paid;
Proof of your language test results completed within two years of the SDS application being received;
Proof that you have obtained a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of $20,635 CAD;
If applicable, a copy of a Provincial Attestation Letter (PAL);
Have your most recent secondary or post-secondary school transcript(s)
If studying in Quebec, have an attestation of issuance of your Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) from the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration

IRCC hosts a complete list of documents on their official website.  Check this list for the most up to date information.

4. Getting a Provincial Attestation Letter

Provincial Attestation Letters (PALs) are a new document IRCC requires to ensure that designated learning institutions (DLIs) do not accept more international students than they can support. The requirement was introduced on January 22, 2024, and provinces were given until March 31, 2024 to implement a system for issuing the PALs.

Note, applicants to master’s programs, PhD programs, primary school, or secondary school will not need a PAL as a part of their SDS application.

How you obtain a PAL may differ depending on where your DLI is located. Each Canadian province will create its own system. You can learn more about the PAL process for each province here.

5. Open a GIC and obtain proof

A GIC is a Canadian investment product that has a guaranteed rate of return for  the term of your investment – and as part of your SDS study permit application, you must provide proof that you bought an International Student GIC of $20,635. This amount will be held in your account until you arrive in Canada and will then be released to you via an initial lump sum payment upon arrival followed by regular instalments of the remaining balance over the next 10 to 12 months.

The TD International Student GIC Program helps you meet this study permit requirement via a simple online application through which you can open both a TD Student Chequing Account and a TD International Student GIC. There are no application fees involved, and you can start earning interest at a competitive rate even before you arrive in Canada. When you land in Canada, visit one of TD’s 1,000+ branches to activate your account and take advantage of even more special offers and benefits.

6. Submit your application

Once you have been accepted to a Canadian DLI and gathered your documents, you are ready to submit your application to IRCC.

If your application is approved, you will be issued a letter of introduction (also known as a Port of Entry (POE) letter of introduction) and a temporary resident visa or an Electronic Travel Authorization to enter Canada, if required.

When you meet the Canadian immigration officer in Canada, this letter will confirm that you have been approved for a study permit.

Once your study permit is issued, it’s time to start your journey as an international student in Canada and enjoy all the new experiences that Canada has to offer.

Learn more about TD International Student Banking Package

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TD has a proud history of delivering financial solutions to Canadians for more than 150 years. TD also brings a century of experience helping newcomers navigate the unique challenges of the Canadian banking system.

With over a thousand branches, a reputation for excellence in financial services, and the ability to also serve you in more than 80 different languages, TD has become one of the largest and most trusted banks in Canada, now serving 16 million Canadians.

TD offers online support and resources of interest to newcomers on topics such as banking basics, moving to Canada, credit score essentials, and more. TD is open longer hours for your convenience and has thousands of ATMs across Canada to help you take care of your everyday banking needs quickly and easily.

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