Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has recently announced the designation-in-principle of a new language test to come under effect for economic class immigration applicants. IRCC expects that the test will be implemented by early to mid-next year. Currently, there are four designated organizations; IELTS and CELPIP for English and TEF and TCF for French.
Despite the challenges faced during the pandemic, the various designated testing organizations continued to meet the demand of immigration and citizenship applicants. Although the spike in the language test provider organizations seeking designation is a cause for IRCC to seek improvements. Right now, the process for an organization to get designated is extremely time taking, intricate, and insufficiently transparent.
IRCC is targeting to seek potential initiatives and improvements this year. If implemented successfully, these changes are anticipated to lead more organizations to become keen on the designation. Currently, there is no specified limit on the potential number of language testing providers. The departmental roles and responsibilities related to language tests are currently not well-defined and have operational implications.
IRCC Planning to Align the CLBs with CEFR
Canada is currently looking into the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB), as some are worried that it is too rough for testing purposes as compared to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). Alternatively scoring on a scale of one to seven, CEFR test-takers get evaluated on an alphanumeric scale: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.
Further research is required on the CLB levels to make sure that all approved language test constructs are equal in the level of difficulty and test purpose.
French Testing must not be ignored
The policy intent and strategy of these initiatives will be aligned with other department priorities, specifically IRCC’s instruction to support francophone immigration across Canada.
History of Language Tests
Since 2010, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada only approved language test results from the designated organizations as proof of language proficiency. The latest approach is to only accept test grades from designated independent testing organizations that were envisioned to permit immigration candidates to demonstrate their language abilities while ensuring a transparent process.
The immigration minister is authorized to designate any language testing organization and to allow a particular language test to evaluate the language abilities of an immigration applicant. This role has been given to the Director of Economic Immigration Programs and policies.
Who requires a language test?
Most economic class immigration programs require applicants to complete a designated language test in English or French. The foundation behind testing language proficiency is a major factor in an immigrant’s ability to establish themselves in Canada. Family and refugee class immigrants do not require a language test as they are permitted into Canada on a social and humanitarian basis.
After applying for Canadian citizenship, an applicant aged between 18 and 54 are required to demonstrate language proficiency in either English or French. One can submit the evaluation report of a language test or prove their proficiency in other ways approved by IRCC.
Though Temporary Foreign Workers do not require to prove their language skills, foreign students are required to provide proof in order to demonstrate that they will be able to succeed in the Canadian academic scenario. Guidelines for showcasing language proficiency may vary by each Canadian designated learning institution, however, the federal government has its own rules on which language tests are accepted as part of the study permit approval process.