Canada is expanding a program that fast-tracks study permits for international students from select countries.

Students from Vietnam, India, China and the Philippines who have strong language skills and money in the bank get Canadian study permits faster than other applicants. Immigration Minister Ahmen Hussen announced today that the four programs will be consolidated into one, to be called the Student Direct Stream, and that it will soon open to students from Kenya and Senegal.

Table showing study permit processing times as of 6/18

The Student Direct Stream is an evolution of a system launched several years ago that offered faster study permits to students bound for a group of specific colleges in Canada. That fast-track system is credited for the phenomenal increase in international students in Canada in recent years.

Students from the four countries are eligible for the Student Direct Stream if they have a minimum English language proficiency score (IELTS) of 6 or a French language proficiency score (TEF) of 7, have deposited $10,000 in a GIC as a way to prove that they have the financial resources to support their Canadian studies and have paid one year of tuition to a school, college or university that is approved as a designated learning institution in Canada.

Students bound for language programs and language schools are not eligible unless the language program is a required prerequisite for a college or university degree program. The program is only open to students who live in one of the designated countries. Citizens of those countries who live outside their home country cannot use the fast-track program.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada communications officers could not provide information about anticipated processing times for the fast-track program, but a document provided to applicants in the Philippines promises a processing time of 30 days.

Regular processing times for study permits vary enormously by country. Currently, the average for India is seven weeks, for Vietnam is 18 weeks, for the Philippines is six weeks and for China is four weeks. Hussen did not say when Kenya and Senegal will be added to the program. It currently takes an average of four weeks to get a study permit in Kenya, and five weeks to get a study permit in Senegal.

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