IRCC Introduces 4 New Language Tests for Student Direct Stream Applicants

In a recent announcement, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) revealed that it will now accept-language test results from four additional tests for applicants of the Student Direct Stream (SDS) program. This move aims to broaden the options available for international students seeking to study in Canada.

Effective from August 10, 2023, the four newly approved language tests are;

  1. CELPIP General
  2. CAEL
  3. PTE Academic
  4. TOEFL iBT Test

All test results must demonstrate proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills.

Specific requirements for each test include:

  • CELPIP General: A score equivalent to the Canadian Language Benchmark of at least 7 in each of the four language-speaking abilities.
  • CAEL and Pearson PTE Academic: Minimum scores of 60.
  • Educational Testing Service (ETS) TOEFL iBT Test: A minimum score of 83.

It is important to note that these tests must be taken in person, as online or remotely proctored tests will not be accepted for SDS applicants.

Previously, only IELTS General and IELTS Academic were approved by IRCC for SDS applicants. The addition of these new language tests provides students with more flexibility and options to meet the language proficiency requirements.

What is the Student Direct Stream (SDS)?

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) program was introduced in 2018 by the Canadian government to expedite the processing of study permits for students from specific countries.

Eligible students must be legal residents of Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, or Vietnam.

The program aims to facilitate the entry of international students into Canada and promote educational opportunities for individuals from these countries. SDS applicants benefit from a service standard of 20 days for processing study permit applications, providing a streamlined process for their studies in Canada.

Eligibility Criteria for SDS Applicants

To be eligible for the SDS program, students from the aforementioned countries must meet the following criteria:

  • Provide a copy of a letter of acceptance from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI).
  • Present a confirmation document for the upfront medical exam.
  • Demonstrate proof of obtaining a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) of $10,000.
  • Show evidence of payment for tuition fees for the first year of study.
  • Submit valid language test results, completed within two years of the SDS application, demonstrating an IELTS score of 6 in English or NCLC 7 for French.
  • Submit the application at a Visa Application Centre (VAC).

Canada’s Growing International Student Population

According to recent reports from IRCC, Canada’s international student population has reached over 800,000 by the end of 2022, marking the largest number in the country’s history. This figure represents a quadrupling of international students since 2008, driven by a combination of domestic and global factors.

The Canadian government and Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) have actively recruited international students due to the significant economic, social, and cultural benefits they bring to the country.

Moreover, the global rise in the middle class has contributed to the growing number of international students worldwide. Canada, with its renowned quality of education, reputation for multiculturalism, and promising work and immigration opportunities, has become an increasingly attractive destination for students seeking a well-rounded educational experience.

By expanding the range of language tests accepted for SDS applicants, IRCC aims to further support the aspirations of international students and strengthen the accessibility and inclusivity of the Student Direct Stream program.


Overall, the expansion of approved language tests for SDS applicants is a positive step toward enhancing the accessibility, fairness, and effectiveness of the study permit application process. By offering more choices and opportunities, IRCC aims to empower international students to pursue their educational goals in Canada, ultimately contributing to their personal growth and the development of a vibrant and inclusive academic community.

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