Canada Immigration and Language Proficiency— English & French Testing Systems, and Minimum Scores Explained

When Canada introduced six new PR streams, the one that caused the maximum excitement among applicants was the stream for international graduates. The new stream gave 40,000 international graduates in Canada a chance to qualify for direct permanent residence.

The stream had language proficiency requirement of CLB 5 or higher, which was significantly lower than the CLB 7 that the Canada Experience Class program requires. However, many eligible applicants lost out because they either did not have language test results or had expired test results in hand.

What exactly do these language tests involve? Why are the scores so important? And how to ensure the test results are valid for your immigration application? Let us understand the language testing system and language proficiency requirements to immigrate to Canada.

Why Language Proficiency Requirements?

How can a skilled worker or entrepreneur work or do business in a country without being proficient in its official language(s)?

So, basic language proficiency is a mandatory and fundamental requirement to be eligible for immigration. And those who are more proficient score more points and are likely to receive an Invitation to Apply as compared to those who have just basic proficiency.

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Language Testing Systems

Canada immigration is open to those who are proficient in French and/or English. Applicants can choose between two testing systems to assess proficiency in English.

IELTS- International English Language Testing System

Students must take the IELTS- Academic test while skilled workers and entrepreneurs applying for Canada immigration must undergo the IELTS-General test.

Your proficiency in English is assessed in four aspects—Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. Your answers will be scored between 1 and 9 with 1 being the lowest and 9 indicating expert level proficiency in English. The test

The test scores are valid for a period of two years, which means you will have to retake this test if your test scores are not valid at the time of submission of your PR application.

CELPIP- Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program

The IELTS is an international test while the CELPIP is designed by IRCC specifically to assess your proficiency in Canadian English including Canadian accents as well.

There are two versions—the General and General LS test with immigration applicants required to under the General test. You will be scored between zero and 12 points with the highest score indicating expert proficiency. To qualify for Canada immigration, you must have a score of seven or higher.

Like English, there are two testing systems for French as well—TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français and TCF test de connaissance du français.

The TEF test has four modules covering Oral comprehension, Oral Expression, Written Comprehension, Written Expression.

The TCF test too is recognized by the IRCC as a valid French-language test for the purpose of Canada immigration. It assess your ability to comprehend, read, speak, and write French.

Linking Test Results with CLB/NCLC Scores

To immigrate to Canada, you must meet the minimum grade of Canadian Language Benchmark for English and Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens for French.

Your CELPIP scores directly indicate your CLB score, which means CELPIP score of 9 means your language proficiency is CLB 9.

Since IELTS is an international test, you will have to find the CLB equivalent of your score and apply accordingly. You will be ranked at CLB 8 if you have a score of 6.5, 6.5, 7.5, and 6.5 for Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking respectively in your IELTS test.

NCLC equivalency too will have to be calculated based on your TEF or TCF scores.

Language Proficiency and Your Immigration Chances

If you don’t know French, then you must have CLB 7 or higher to qualify for the FSWP or CEC. A lower score of CLB 5 is acceptable only for CEC applicants of NOC B occupations.

The FSTP has the most relaxed language proficiency requirement of CLB 5/NCLC 5 for speaking and listening and CLB 4/NCLC 4 for reading and writing.

A score of NCLC 7 or higher in French along with CLB 5 or higher score in English can help you qualify for an additional 50 CRS points. This is reduced to 25 points if your English proficiency is CLB 4 or lower.

This means learning French can be a great way to boost your Express Entry prospects along with the additional benefit of qualifying for Francophone programs and streams of different provinces.

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