Almost every category of economic immigration to Canada requires the results of a language test in order to apply. The version of the test that you need to take, and the score you need to get, depend on the specific program you are applying under.
For Canadian immigration, you have to provide language test results from an authorized organization. There are two authorized test providers in English:
If you want to take your language test in French, you must take the Test d’évaluation de français (TEF).
IRCC does not have a preferred test. Since results from all three tests are valued equally, you can choose to take whichever test is more convenient for you.
When Canadian immigration programs indicate a language requirement, they usually refer to a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level, or Niveaux de competence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) in French.
You can convert your language test results to CLB levels using the tables below. To meet a language requirement, your lowest CLB score must not be lower than the requirement.
One of the most frequent questions we receive from clients is “What score do I need on my language test?” Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question.
Most Canadian economic immigration programs have minimum language requirements, but they are not all the same. So the score you need to get may depend on the program you’re applying to.
However, many programs operate on points systems. Points may be awarded for things like age, work experience, and education, in addition to language proficiency. Depending on your profile, the language test score you need to qualify could be different from the minimum requirement.
Our advice is to give it your best effort. If you don’t like your results, you can also take the test again to try to improve them. The important thing to remember is that these are tests. Even if you are confident in your English or French language ability, you should prepare by studying and doing practice tests.
NOTE: Language test results must be less than two years (24 months) old to be valid. If you wrote your language test more than two years ago, you will need to re-take it.
IELTS, CELPIP and TEF all assign a score for each of four language abilities: listening, reading, writing and speaking.
IELTS is an internationally available English proficiency test. We usually recommend our clients take the IELTS for their immigration file, and provide them with IELTS training, because there are many testing centers around the world. There are two categories of IELTS: General Training and Academic. For Canadian immigration, you should take the IELTS – General Training.
IELTS results provide a score for each language ability, as well as an overall band score that averages your results in each ability. For Canadian immigration purposes, your overall band score does not matter.
CELPIP was designed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Unlike the IELTS, which are designed for international English proficiency, the CELPIP was designed for Canadian English, which contains elements of British English and American English, as well as Canadian accents.
There are two CELPIP test types: the General Test and the General LS Test. For immigration, you should take the CELPIP – General Test.
Originally, the CELPIP could only be taken from within Canada, but it’s now expanded internationally with a test center in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
If you are a native French speaker, or would prefer to submit language test results demonstrating French proficiency, you must take the TEF.
There are two types of TEF available: the TEF and the TEFAQ. We usually recommend that clients take the TEF. The TEFAQ is only accepted for Quebec immigration, while the TEF is accepted by both Quebec and federal immigration.
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