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Expanded Language Test Options Approved for Canada’s Student Direct Stream

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Effective August 10, 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have introduced four newly sanctioned English language tests for Student Direct Stream (SDS) applicants.

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Updated Language Tests

The updated roster of accepted language tests encompasses the following:

  • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) General
  • Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test (TOEFL IBT)
  • Explore your avenues for pursuing education in Canada.


In conjunction with these options, students can still opt for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General Training or Academic examinations. Moreover, the SDS also implemented significant changes to the IELTS prerequisites on August 10th:

  • For applications submitted on or after August 10, 2023, an IELTS Academic overall band score (averaging all individual skill section scores) of 6.0 is mandatory.
  • For applications submitted before August 10, 2023, with IELTS Academic, a minimum score of 6.0 in each skill category (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) is mandatory.
  • Regardless of the application date, applicants using IELTS General Training must achieve a minimum score of 6.0 in each skill section.


To meet the requirements of the SDS, all examination outcomes must demonstrate a comprehensive proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages (English or French), encompassing competencies in speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

For English assessments, students need to attain a cumulative score of:

  • 7 on CELPIP General tests
  • 60 on CAEL tests
  • 60 on Pearson Academic tests
  • And lastly, 83 on TOEFL IBT tests


Please note that SDS applicants must complete these assessments in a traditional in-person format, as online or remotely proctored tests are not eligible for consideration.

Understanding the Student Direct Stream: A Quick Overview

The SDS program expedites studying permit processing for international students hailing from designated countries. Its objective is maintaining a streamlined processing timeline of 20 calendar days for eligible study permit applications.

The roster of eligible countries encompasses Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Vietnam.

To qualify as an SDS applicant, students must:

  • Hold legal residency in one of the specified countries.
  • Provide a copy of an acceptance letter from a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI).
  • Confirm completion of a preliminary medical examination.
  • Demonstrate possession or acquisition of a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) amounting to $10,000.
  • Validate payment of tuition fees for the first year of study.
  • Furnish evidence of eligible language test scores obtained within two years of application submission, in line with SDS requirements.
  • Lastly, submit their application at a Visa Application Centre (VAC).


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What to Consider

In addition, it’s important to note that while meeting these eligibility criteria is crucial, an IRCC officer retains the authority to decline an application if they find insufficient evidence that the international student can fulfill their obligations during their stay in Canada. 

As a testament to the effectiveness of these measures, Canada played host to over 800,000 international students by the close of 2022, marking the highest figure in the nation’s history. This substantial increase of nearly tenfold since 2008 is attributed to domestic and global factors synergy. Within Canada, both authorities and DLIs have vigorously endeavored to attract international students for their contributions to the economy, cultural diversity, and societal enrichment.

Furthermore, on a global scale, the burgeoning middle-class populations have driven a surge in the international student demographic. Canada’s appeal as an educational epicenter stems from its superior education quality, multicultural reputation, and promising career and immigration opportunities post-study—traits that position the nation ahead even of other competitive international student markets, such as the United States.

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