Language test requirements for immigration to Canada

If you are interested in immigrating to Canada under the skilled worker program, it is important to understand the language test requirements. Both the federal Express Entry system and provincial immigration programs (PNP) require applicants to take a language test to demonstrate compliance with the language requirements of the program they are applying to.

To assess language skills, the Government of Canada uses the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB), which evaluates language proficiency on a scale from 1 to 12. Different skilled worker programs have different CLB level requirements: some programs require a CLB level 4, while others require CLB 7.

It is important to note that language test results are only valid for two years. This means that if a candidate took the language test more than two years before applying for immigration to Canada, they will need to retake the test.

To meet the language proficiency requirements for skilled workers, candidates must take a language test approved by the Government of Canada. Currently, the approved tests for English proficiency are CELPIP General and IELTS General Training. TEF and TCF are approved tests for French proficiency.

The CELPIP General and IELTS General Training tests are similar in that both consist of four modules: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. The cost of each test is approximately 300 Canadian dollars, and results are typically provided within two weeks. The speaking component of the IELTS can be taken up to seven days before or after the other three components.

TEF and TCF are used to assess the understanding and expression of the French language skills of non-native speakers. TEF and TCF are accepted for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and may also be used for immigration purposes in Quebec. Both tests have mandatory and optional sections, and the cost depends on the test location.

As of January 30th, 2024, the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Core test will now be accepted for all immigration pathways, except for the Student Direct Stream (SDS).

This means that Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) candidates, candidates in Express Entry managed programs, and those needing a language test for any other Canadian immigration purposes (outside of the SDS)—including applying for Canadian citizenship—can now take the PTE Core.

With the addition of PTE Core, there are now five general language tests accepted by IRCC for immigration purposes:

CELPIP General Test (English);
IELTS General Training (English);
PTE Core (English);
TEF Canada (French);
TCF Canada (French).

Overall, passing an approved language test is necessary for skilled worker immigration to Canada. Understanding the specific language requirements of the program a candidate is applying to and taking an approved language test within two years of applying can increase the chances of successful immigration.

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