Changes to Language Requirements

Meurrens LawCitizenship Applications and Revocations

New Language Requirements for Citizenship and PNP Applications

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) has introduced new language requirements for citizenship applications and certain provincial nominee applications.  For citizenship applications, the changes will introduce objective language requirements for most applicantions.  For certain provincial nominee program (“PNP”) applications, the changes will introduce mandatory language testing.

The Citizenship Langugage Requirements  

Applicants for Canadian citizenship are required to demonstrate that they have an adequate knowledge of either English or French.  Currently, this is done through a multiple choice written test known as the Citizenship Exam, which also tests knowledge of Canada and the responsibilities of citizenship.

On April 21, 2012, the Government of Canada introduced regulatory changes that when they take affect will require that citizenship applicants enclose proof that they meet the language requirement with their citizenship application.  Acceptable means of proof will include:

  • A language test result from an authorized testing agency;
  • Evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French; or
  • Evidence of completion and achievement of a certain level in a government-funded language training program.

Applicants submitting test results from an authorized testing agency will have to achieve a minimum standard of Canadian Language Benchmark (“CLB”) 4 in English or Niveaux de comeptence linguistique canadiens (“NCLC”) level 4 in French.  The areas that will be tested are speaking and listening.  For those familiar with the International English Language Testing System (“IELTS”), currently required for many permanent residence applications, this translates into a 4 in each category.

Applicants who provided mandatory language testing results as part of their permanence residence applications can submit those test results with their citizenship application, and will not be required to be re-tested.

The change will affect all adult citizenship applicants between the ages of 18 and 54.

More information about the change, and the other details of the regulatory changes, can be found at the Canada Gazette here:  

The PNP Langugage Requirements  

On April 11, 2012, CIC announced that most PNP applicants for semi- and low-skilled professions that fall under Naitonal Occupational Classification (“NOC”) Skill Levels C and D  will have to take mandatory language testing of their listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  They will be required to meet a minimum standard across all four of these categories.

Acceptable tests will include the IELTS, the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (“CELPIP-General”), and the Test d’evaluation de francais.  The minimum standard required will be CLB 4.  No other evidence of language profiency will be accepted.

The change will take effect on July 1, 2012.  However, CIC has announced that any temporary foreign worker who arrives in Canada on or before July 1, 2012, and who subsequently gets nominated no later than July 1, 2013, will be exempted from the requirement.  It is important to note that while CIC has allowed this exemption, it is still unknown whether provincial governments will nonetheless start requiring language testing sooner.

It should also be noted that in January, 2012, CIC indicated that intends to introduce language testing across all PNP streams by the end of 2012.

More information about the change, and the other requirements of the program, can be found at the WelcomeBC here: