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Ask Tito Mike by Michael Scott  

Then there were five:

Language tests for Canada Immigration

by Michael Scott

The landscape for English language testing has just grown by one more test. IRCC announced on February 1, 2023, that it has approved The Pearson Test for English (PTE) as one of three English-language tests that economic stream applicants will be able to use for their Canadian immigration applications. Beginning in late 2023 the PTE will join CELPIP (Canadian English Language Index Program) and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) as one of three accepted tests to demonstrate English language ability. In addition, there are two French-language ability tests approved for immigration purposes – TEF Canada and TCF Canada – for a grand total of five different tests.

The need for demonstrated proficiency in English or French is part of the selection of candidates for economic class immigration candidates. They must demonstrate proficiency in one of the two official languages in order to be selected. Statistics Canada research shows strong proficiency in English or French is a strong predicator of economic integration in Canada.

At this time, Canada has over 100 different pathways for economic class immigrants. Under the recently announced Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025 the leading pathways continue to be Express Entry and the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Applicants for other economic class pathways include IRCC pilot programs, the Atlantic Immigration Program and Quebec skilled worker programs, which all require a language test approved by IRCC.

It is notable that IRCC measures the language proficiency of candidates in terms of Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) and have set a standard achievement mark in order to qualify. The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) for example requires candidates to obtain a CLB of at least 7 in all four language abilities: writing, reading, listening and speaking. The minimum requirement for other programs is CLB 4.

IRCC does not have a preferred test. All are valued equally, and participants can choose the version that they find most convenient. The results must be within the past two years or 24 months to be valid. All three English language tests measure the same four abilities of language proficiency. If you don’t like the results in one test you can try a different version to improve them. Currently, CELPIP and IELTS offer both General and Academic versions of their tests. PTE is slightly different with three versions of the test: PTE Academic, General and Young Learners. It is important to remember to prepare for any of the tests. You should study and do practice tests. In order to achieve the best score, you need to prepare and set a high standard for yourself. It is not enough to make the minimum but rather always to aim higher.

IRCC will continue to measure outcomes in terms of Canadian Language Benchmarks from 4 (poor) to 10 (excellent) and assessment outcomes are always measured in points. The higher you score, the greater your likelihood of being invited to apply. First you must meet the minimum requirement and if it is CLB 4 then you must score at least 4 in writing, reading, listening, and speaking. If you score lower, you are not eligible and if you score more you increases your chances of selection.

Not all applicants are measured by their language abilities. Family and refugee class immigrants do not need to complete a language test since they are admitted to Canada for social and humanitarian reasons. However, all applicants for Canadian citizenship between the ages of 18 and 54 need to demonstrate their English or French language competency. They may submit the results of an approved language test to demonstrate their language proficiency. Temporary foreign workers and international foreign students also must demonstrate that they have sufficient language skills to do the job in Canada or compete with Canadian students at institutions of higher learning.

Language testing is here to stay because newcomers to the country require English and/or French language skills to integrate and progress in the country. It does not matter if the applicants meet the bar in PTE, or IELTS or CELPIP for English or TEF or TCF in French. What matters is that they integrate and add to the economic wealth of the country. We need immigration to progress, but we need newcomers who add value, cultural, social or economic value to the country. Watch for more information about the PTE.  It is here to stay.

Michael Scott is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC, R525678) who has 30 years of experience with Immigration Canada and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. He currently works as a licensed consultant with Immigration Connexion International Ltd. Contact him at 204-691-1166 or 204-227-0292. E-mail: