If you are in Canada and looking to settle as a permanent resident through an economic Canadian immigration program, you may consider taking the CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program) as part of the immigration process.
The CELPIP test is offered at locations across Canada. Additional international test locations were recently added in Dubai, New York City and Manila. If you are in or near those cities, CELPIP may also be an option.
Update – July, 2019: As of July, 2019, CELPIP introduced two important changes to the testing process. CELPIP test takers will now have six months following their test to request a re-evaluation of their results, if they wish to do so (before this change, candidates had only six weeks to request a re-evaluation). As well, CELPIP test takers who wish to retake the exam only have to wait four days between tests, rather than the 30 days that was previously required.
Since first being offered to Canadian immigration applicants in 2012, the CELPIP test has offered an alternative means for applicants to prove their English ability. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) currently recognizes two English language tests for immigration purposes: CELPIP-General and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) – General Training Test.
The CELPIP-General test assesses general levels of functional English competency in workplace and community contexts. Like the IELTS-General test, the CELPIP-General test consists of four components: speaking, reading, writing, and listening.
The CELPIP test is administered by Paragon Testing Enterprises, a subsidiary of the University of British Columbia (UBC).
CELPIP and Express Entry
Applications submitted to any of Canada’s federal economic immigration programs are managed under the Express Entry immigration selection system.
Getting into the pool
All potential immigrants under Express Entry need to prove ability in English or French (or for extra points, both). This includes native English and French speakers, no matter where they come from or which school they went to. Express Entry is a level playing field, and every point matters as candidates vie for that all-important invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence.
There are different pathways to entering the pool, with Canada offering three separate programs within Express Entry. If you are not sure which program(s) you may be eligible under, see our guides:
- Federal Skilled Worker Class (FSWC): For workers evaluated under a unique FSWC points system. Eligible individuals must obtain at least 67 points out of 100. Up to 28 points are available for language ability, rising to up to 33 points for individuals with an accompanying spouse or common-law partner.
- Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC): For tradespersons with relevant experience.
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC): For individuals with ongoing or recent work experience in Canada.
For the purposes of entering the Express Entry pool, language criteria are set depending on which of the three programs an individual may be eligible for.
Unlike the IELTS and TEF tests, which have alternative marking systems, CELPIP test results are issued with marks from 1 to 12, exactly the same as the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLBs). The results in the table below show the CLB required (the same as the CELPIP result required) to enter the pool per program and per language ability.
|To enter the pool*|
|FSWC||FSTC||CEC (NOC 0 or A)||CEC (NOC B)|
*The above table assumes that the individual is otherwise eligible for the listed program(s). Obtaining CELPIP test results equal to or better than the results listed above does not guarantee entry to the pool.
As you can see, the language criteria for entering the pool are different for different candidates, depending on the program they are eligible under. However, once in the pool all candidates are ranked using the same points system, known as the Comprehensive Ranking System, or CRS.
Candidates who entered the pool with CELPIP results equivalent to CLB 8 or below can make incremental gains in their CRS points total if they can prove improvements in their language skills having re-sat a test. However, something special can happen if you reach CLB 9, also known as ‘initial advanced’ level. This is because under the ‘skills transferability’ factors of the CRS, language ability is paired separately with education level and work experience gained outside Canada. Up to 100 CRS points are available for these combinations. These bonus points are in addition to the points received for improving language skills under the human capital factors.
Reaching CLB 9 can make or break a candidate’s prospects for immigration to Canada.
To show this, let’s take a hypothetical example. Stephanie is a candidate in the pool. Upon entry to the pool, she had proven English ability equivalent to CLB 8. She is 29 years old, has a Master’s degree, and three years of work experience outside Canada. She does not have a job offer, a provincial nomination, or any family members living in Canada. This gave her an initial score of 387 CRS points. However, she re-took a CELPIP test and made marginal improvements across the four abilities, bringing her results to the equivalent of CLB 9 in all four. In doing so, her score increased to 469 CRS points! Such a score is typically more than enough to secure an ITA.