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Minimum language requirements

and provincial nominee programs

Effective July 1, 2012 applicants to provincial nominee programs for semi and low skilled occupations that fall under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) Skill Levels C & D must demonstrate that they meet the minimum standard of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4 in English or Niveaux de completence linguistique canadiene (LCIC) level in French across all categories: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The emphasis upon compulsory language testing was set forth by the federal immigration Minister Jason Kenny, who said in his April announcement in Saskatoon, “As a result, immigrants coming to Canada under PNPs will arrive with much better language skills and will be selected for the impact they can have on Canada’s economy.”

It is important first for the reader to understand what occupations are being impacted by the federal decision. Skill level is usually defined as the amount of education and training required to enter and perform the duties of an occupation. Skill level C describes occupations that require completion of secondary school and/or occupation-specific training or some secondary school education and some short-duration courses or training specific to the occupation. Skill level D, on the other hand, is related to short on-the-job training with no formal educational requirements.

As of July, people applying to provincial nominee programs across the country in skill level C & D must provide evidence that they have taken an acceptable English or French language proficiency test. The Canadian Language Benchmarks is the national standard used in Canada for measuring the English language proficiency of adult immigrants and prospective immigrants for living and working in Canada. The minimum standard of CLB 4 is considered “Basic Proficiency” and means that the person tested “meets” CLB 4: can communicate basic needs and personal experiences; can follow, with considerable effort, simple formal or informal conversations; can read and understand instructions written in plain language; and can write short messages, notes or directions. In order for applicants abroad to demonstrate that they meet this basic proficiency, they must provide valid results from a language test administered by designated testing agencies recognized by Canada Immigration. The acceptable tests are the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), General Training (not the Academic test); the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP-General; and the Test d’evaluation de francais (test for French proficiency). In terms of basic proficiency and IELTS, I believe the equivalency to be a 4in all the categories of language measurement.

The federal requirement also applies to applicants for the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program. It is not enough for people from countries like the Philippines, where English is a common language of instruction in secondary and post secondary school programs, to provide statements about the language of instructions. My recommendation is that all applicants take the IELTS examination and not only meet “Basic Proficiency” but exceed. For example, the college graduate (aged 21 to 49) from the Philippines with at least four acceptable years of full time work in the last ten years and two bona fidedistant relatives or friends in Manitoba needs to achieve a global score of 6on their IELTS test, equivalent to eight English language points, in order to meet the 55-point minimum for the General Stream, MPNP. The federal change does not change this long-standing MPNP requirement but sets a language threshold that must be met by all economic stream applicants.

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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