As of November 1, 2012, all applicants for Canadian citizenship are now required to provide proof of language ability in one of Canada’s two official languages.
Proof of language ability can be established through third party test results, evidence of secondary or post-secondary education, or completion of government funded language training at an adequate level. In a similar vein, this summer Immigration Minister Jason Kenney proposed changes to Canada’s federal skilled worker program, which features a points based selection system, increasing the points for language proficiency and decreasing the points for work experience.
These proposed changes will also award additional points for a spouse’s language proficiency rather than a spouse’s education.
This recent emphasis on language proficiency has been a key initiative of Minister Kenney over the past several years.
Mandatory language testing was implemented on June 26, 2010 for all Skilled Worker and Canadian Experience Class applicants.
On March 16, 2011, further regulations were introduced requiring all Business Applicants such as Investors or Self-employed Applicants to also provide test results when claiming points for language proficiency.
And as of June 1, 2012, language test results are required for semi-skilled Provincial Nominee applicants.
Permanent Resident Applicants must include language test results from a recognized testing centre: IELTS (International English Language Testing System),
CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program), or TEF (Test d’Evaluation Francais), and they must demonstrate the appropriate proficiency level for the points claimed.
The recent regulatory changes for citizenship do not increase the language level required but changes the way that applicants for citizenship between the ages of 18 and 54 are able to objectively demonstrate their language ability and allow for officers to process their applications more expeditiously.
Previously citizenship applicants had their language abilities assessed by a Judge. The move to more objective standards for confirming language proficiency, as well as an increased emphasis on the significance of language in the assessment process is part of an ongoing trend.
For prospective immigrants and citizens the message is clear – your ability to communicate effectively in English or French will be a key factor in the immigration and citizenship processes. Minister Kenney wants you to acquire language skills before coming to Canada.
For more information contact Catherine Sas ( firstname.lastname@example.org), a Vancouver immigration lawyer.