If you want to immigrate to Canada as a permanent resident, you will probably need to take a language test. There are many different language tests out there, but only some of them are accepted for Canadian immigration. Find out which language test you need to take below.
Immigrating to Canada
Barring some key exceptions – such as spousal sponsorship and temporary immigration programs like International Experience Canada (IEC) – most Canadian economic immigration programs require proof of language, demonstrated by an authorized language test in English or French.
Language tests are required for all programs aligned with Express Entry, including Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Quebec’s immigration streams for workers require proof of language proficiency as well.
Even if English is your first language, you need to take a test. You may write like a Guardian columnist and your accent may rival the Queen’s, but the government still needs a piece of paper to prove it.
Since each test has its own scoring system, Canada uses the Canadian Language Benchmark levels, or CLBs, to compare results from different tests and provide a unified scoring system.
Which test do I take?
The type of test you’ll need to take and the scores you’ll need to achieve depend on your immigration program. However, no matter which program you’re applying to, test results must be less than two years old when you submit your application.
Accepted language tests for Express Entry
All candidates in the Express Entry pool are required to maintain a valid language test in their profile – so if your test expires (turns two years old) before you submit your final application for permanent residence, you’ll need to take another one. If your language test results expire while you’re still in the Express Entry pool, your profile will become ineligible, unless you submit new results.
There are three different immigration programs that are a part of the Express Entry system: Federal Skilled Worker, Canadian Experience Class, and Federal Skilled Trades. Each of these three programs has a different minimum required score in order to be eligible.
Candidates and their spouses in the Express Entry pool can gain points under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) for their language level – in fact, improving your score on a language test is one of the best ways to improve your CRS score.
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General (do not take the IELTS Academic test, even if it sounds more impressive – it is not accepted)
- Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) General
Both tests are equally acceptable for your immigration application, but the IELTS test is more widely available and accepted worldwide.
These tests are also accepted as proof of language proficiency for Canada’s many Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), and if you are applying as a self-employed worker, or through the start-up visa program.