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Proof of English or French language

and citizenship applications

Citizenship applicants must provide evidence of their French or English language ability at the time they apply. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration announced the change in a September 28, 2012 news release.

“Extensive research has consistently shown that the ability to communicate effectively in either French or English is a key factor in the success of new citizens in Canada,” said Minister Kenny. “We believe it is important that new citizens be able to participate fully in our economy and our society.”

Is this something completely new or a refinement of the existing Citizenship Act? What is acceptable evidence of English or French language ability?

Canada’s Citizenship Act clearly sets forth the requirement for applicants to be able to communicate effectively in either French or English. This stated requirement is not new. The change is that applicants are now required to demonstrate their language ability. Under the previous system, which expired at the end of October 2012, applicants were not required to prove their English or French language competence up front. Now, all adult applicants, between the ages of 18 and 54 years of age, have to provide objective proof of their language ability with their application submissions received as of November 1, 2012. Citizenship and Immigration Canada officials also use the applicant’s interactions with CIC staff and citizenship judges as part of their language assessment. The good news for some applicants is that if you are 55 years old, you do not have to provide evidence of language proficiency or take the citizenship examination.

Under the change to the Citizenship Regulations, applicants can provide objective proof of their language ability by submitting a variety of evidence, including the results of approved third-party tests, evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French, or evidence of successfully reaching a minimum level of proficiency in certain Canadian government funded language training programs. Some of the third-party tests include the CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program) general test and the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) general test for English. An approved French language test is the TES (Test d’Evaluation de Francais ). Applicants can also provide evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French. Another option is to present evidence of meeting minimum standards in government funded LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers) or CLIC (Cours de langue pour les immigrants au Canada) courses.

It is possible therefore for Filipino community applicants to qualify under any of the above-mentioned ways. Many permanent residents may have results of their IELTS examination, as part of their applications to MPNP and/or Citizenship and Immigration Canada, but the results are only valid for two years, so presumably, expired IELTS certificates might not be acceptable.

Applicants can also provide evidence of English language instruction for their secondary or post-secondary studies. Other applicants can provide evidence of English language study in LINC classes. CLB (Canadian Language Benchmarks) is used as the standard for English language proficiency inside Canada while CLIC (Cours de langue pour les immigrants au Canada) is the French equivalent. The minimum level set for citizenship applications is CLB/NCIC 4 in speaking and listening, in a provincially-funded language training course in Manitoba. British Columbia, or Quebec. Applicants who successfully completed LINC/CLIC courses between January 1, 2008 and October 31, 2012 can indicate this on their citizenship application form and CIC will verify the completion electronically or the applicants could include a copy of their progress report from Manitoba Immigration and Multiculturalism that indicates that the applicant is “beginning CLB 5” in speaking and listening.

The Application for Canadian Citizenship –Adults (CIT 0002) issued for September 2012 did not yet contain any reference to proof of language competence in French or English. The important phrase is “not yet” because we can anticipate a revision of the Citizenship application. It is important to use the current application form and include the stated requirement when you submit your application. Hopefully, the checklist will be more specific in terms of what is acceptable evidence of language competence. It is the responsibility of applicants to be aware of the requirements and ensure that their applications for citizenship are complete and meet the standards set forth by the federal government.

Michael Scott BA (Hon), MA, is a 30-year veteran of Canada Immigration and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program who works as an immigration associate with R.B. Global Immigration Consultants Ltd. He can be reached at 838 Ellice Avenue in Winnipeg, (204) 783-7326 or (204) 227-0292. E-mail:

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