Launched in 2018, the SDS allowed applicants in China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam to provide additional information up front meaning Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada officers could make thorough assessments and final decisions quickly.
The program now covers 14 countries. New countries added to the list include:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Costa Rica
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
IRCC indicated the continued expansion of the SDS would support Canada’s International Education Strategy and a goal of welcoming more international students from a “broad range” of source countries.
Government statistics show that in 2019, nearly 16,000 study permits were issued from the seven new SDS countries, including about 10,000 from Brazil and 4,400 from Colombia.
“The SDS is an important tool in the recruitment of international students and we welcome the expansion of the SDS into new markets,” a Universities Canada spokesperson told The PIE.
“We continue to diversify our international student population”
“We continue to diversify our international student population to ensure international student enrolment remains sustainable and our campuses realise the benefits of true global diversity.”
Stakeholders in Brazil welcomed the announcement, with director of TravelMate and recently elected president of Brazilian language travel and exchange association Belta, Alexandre Argenta, suggesting “that any change of process that eases visa issuance help increasing the demand for that country”.
However, current visa delays continue to limit student mobility from Brazil to Canada, he continued.
“At this point I have not noticed an increase in the demand for Canada because the visa processes are still very slow,” he told The PIE News.
“There is a positive expectation that student visas will restart being issued by August 6, if this happens, I believe Brazilian students will gain confidence again to apply for programs in Canada for 2022.”
Argenta added that the US has seen “an increase in the demand” after student visa processing had restarted during the past month.
According to the Canadian Embassy in Brazil, Canada has been Brazil’s first choice destination to study for the past 17 years, others added.
The SDS is an effort to assure Brazilian students they will get visas in a timely manner, which will not jeopardise travel plans or their college university experiences, said Diogo Rõdrïguēs, CEO of YES Intercambio.
“From our perspective as education consultants, it is a true effort to help students that are really focused and prepared to go to Canada. It will for sure entice more students to opt for Canada as a study destination, compared to other countries which did not offer any alternatives to speed up visa processing,” he explained.
The rise in currencies as a result of economic instability remains a challenge for future students, who tend to look for more affordable alternatives to study abroad, which could also benefit “best cost benefit destinations such as Canada”, he suggested.
Belta surveys have shown the most popular destinations for Brazilian students are Canada followed by the US and Ireland, and top five post-pandemic destinations will be Canada, the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, Rõdrïguēs noted.
“A recent survey by the Youth Atlas, IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), World Gallup Pool and United Nations has shown that 47% of 50 million Brazilians, aged 15 to 29 years old, would leave Brazil next year if possible due to the lack of possibilities in terms of work, education and safety,” he continued.
“We are now just hoping that Air Canada releases direct flights from Brazil prior to September”
“We are now just hoping that Air Canada releases direct flights from Brazil prior to September, considering that classes starts mid August.”
The Canadian government added that international students will likely continue facing challenges in travelling to Canada as a result of ongoing reduced flight availability.
It requires students to submit quarantine and vaccination details using the ArriveCAN app before travelling to Canada and follow designated learning institutions’ Covid-19 readiness plans. Fully vaccinated travellers could be exempt from quarantine, it added.
Eligible SDS applicants provide results of English or French language tests, immigration medical exams and biometrics, as well as financial evidence through the Guaranteed Investment Certificate to show they have a minimum of $10,000 to support themselves during their studies.
However, one stakeholder who wished to remain anonymous, told The PIE News that upfront $10,000 GIC is a deterrent for many students and parents.
“Convincing LATAM students and parents to open a GIC in Canada will be next to impossible so I think the SDS route will only be available to those of very high economic means,” they said. “This widens the gap and discriminates towards students with a lower economic status.”
It is possible that students and parents will perceive the GIC as a fee, they added, however students receive an initial lump sum of $2000 for settlement cost the first month after arriving, followed by additional monthly or bi-monthly instalments over 10 to 12 months.
“We need to educate them that this a deposit that the student receives back as part of their first year living expense,” the source highlighted.
“One advantage is that many students and parents worry about disclosing their assets and investments; with SDS/ GIC they do not have disclose their assets or investments, this may be beneficial for them,” they added.
SDS countries will still have two options – either the SDS or regular channels – which creates two tiers of applicants, they continued.
“My experience with other markets [is that] IRCC favours SDS for approvals over non-SDS route”
“My experience with other markets [is that] IRCC favours SDS for approvals over non-SDS route. The number of visa denials from non-SDS is likely to increase greatly. Also SDS applicants take priority for processing which slows down the processing of non-SDS applicants.
“With SDS, part ownership is borne by institution of screening the students to ensure the student meet academic standards. Hence, visa refusal of SDS knocks off points of institutions.”
“The global pandemic has caused disruptions and distress for everyone, including international students,” Canada’s minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco E. L. Mendicino said.
“By expanding the SDS to a more diverse range of prospective students, we have great optimism that international education will recover, and indeed flourish, as Canada emerges from the pandemic.”