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Canada Immigration – Language Test: What You Need to Know

Do you know what language test you need to immigrate to Canada? The first thing you need to know is that almost every category of economic immigration to Canada (and maybe spousal sponsorship soon) requires the results of a language test in order to apply. Which version of the test you need and the scores required, depends on the category of immigration you apply under.

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The Basics:

Since Canada is a bilingual country you can usually take an approved French OR English language test to demonstrate your proficiency. Since points are often awarded for proficiency in both official Canadian languages, applicants that are bilingual in French and English have an advantage and can take both tests to gain additional points. It is important to note that NO Canadian Immigration program requires you to take both a French and English language test, not even the Quebec Skilled Worker program.

What Score do I Need?

This question is often difficult or impossible to answer unless we have your full profile and supporting documents, which is not always practical for an initial assessment. Immigrating to Canada is often a matter of points and you are eligible to submit an application if you meet the arbitrary point pass mark. Points are awarded for various different factors like; age, work experience, level of education and language proficiency. So as you can see, there is no standard answer to this question.

For example:

If you have a Master’s degree, you are under 35 and a you have 5- 6 years of work experience, the language requirements you will need to meet will be lower than someone who does not have the same level of qualifications as you.

Our advice is to give whatever test you take (French or English) your best effort and hope for a positive result. With Express Entry, Canada is moving away from the traditional first come, first served type of immigration selection system. What that means is that people with higher language scores will typically be ranked higher in the selection pool and therefore be more likely to be invited to apply for Canadian Permanent Residence.

Although we can’t always tell you exactly what score you need, some programs do however have a minimum language requirement that we will go over in the sections below.

Express Entry/Federal Skilled Worker:

There are three different language tests accepted under Express Entry. The approved tests and minimum requirements to be eligible are as follows:

1) The General IELTS test (English)

  • Minimum score needed: 6.0 in all 4 categories

2) The General CELPIP test (English and only available in Canada)

  • Minimum score needed: 4L in all 4 categories

3) TEF: Test d’évaluation de Français (French)

  • Minimum score needed:
  • Speaking: 310-348
  • Listening: 249-279
  • Reading: 207 – 232
  • Writing: 310-348


Scoring below the minimum requirement means you are not eligible to apply with those language test results. It should also be mentioned that having the minimum language scores needed to apply does not necessarily mean you are eligible to submit an application. It simply means that the scores you have are the minimum requirement to apply with. Whether you meet the 67 point pass mark of the Federal Skilled Worker program will depend on other factors, not just language proficiency. As a client of Canadim you can benefit from our years of experience to let us guide you to make the best decision about your Canadian Immigration file.

Quebec Skilled Worker:

The Quebec program is slightly more flexible regarding the type of language test you can take and there are no minimum scores needed to apply like in Express Entry. But keep in mind that the Quebec Skilled Worker program is a points based system too and you must make enough points to apply. Scoring higher on your language tests will increase the likelihood your scores will be sufficient.

Immigration Quebec will accept IELTS results to demonstrate your English language proficiency. Or, if you are a native French speaker, you can take the TEF or the DELF examination.

One major benefit of the Quebec program is that under the current regulations, language tests can be submitted after the initial application. This way you can work on your language test results while your application is processing.

Quick Facts:

All language test results cannot be older than 24 months from the date you submit them.

The average of your language test scores means absolutely nothing. All that matters is the individual scores in the 4 categories (listening, writing, reading and speaking).

The Quebec program is the only Canadian Immigration program that will accept the academic version of the IELTS. We always recommend the general training since it is easier and universally accepted for proof of English language proficiency.

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The Canadim Team!

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