Language

Erickson, Manitoba (Kelly Graham)

Language Skills and Tests

You must show that you can function in French or English if you want to be a permanent resident of Canada. Some immigration programs accept applicants with very low language skills but other programs require that you be fluent. The language requirements of different immigration programs vary a lot.

The only immigrants who don’t have to prove they can function in English or French are refugees, and applicants who are sponsored for permanent resident status by their parents, spouses or common-law partners.

Some immigration programs will accept a letter from your employer stating that you have the language skills needed to do the job. Some programs consider a Canadian degree as proof of your language skills. But most programs require that you show results of a language test that is no more than two years old. Use our compare tool to see the different language requirements of different immigration programs. Also see examples below.

Some immigration programs offer extra points for strong language skills or the ability to function in both English and French. Often a good way to increase your score in points-based immigration programs is to improve your language skills and take a new test.

Every program will accept language tests in either French or English. Only these three tests are accepted:

  • Test d’évaluation de français (TEF)
  • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) General Test
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General Training Test

Some schools require that you take the academic version of the IELTS test for admission, but you cannot use the academic IELTS for immigration applications, only the general training version.

The TEF, CELPIP and IELTS each use a different scoring system, so Canada developed a uniform method to express the results. It is called the Canada Language Benchmarks (CLB).

Polestar includes the IELTS general training scores on our immigration program pages because that is the most popular test. If you took the TEF or the CELPIP and want to know if your score is high enough for a specific program, look up the CLB score required for that immigration program and then use the conversion table below. You can find the CLB requirement by going to the government website link at the bottom of each Polestar immigration program page.

Each test evaluates four language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. Some immigration programs require a specific score in each skill. The Canadian Language Benchmarks score includes all four skills.

Use this table to convert TEF (French) scores to CLB scores:

CLB level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
10 263-277 393-415 316-333 393-415
9 248-262 371-392 298-315 371-392
8 233-2247 349-370 280-297 349-370
7 207-232 310-348 249-279 310-348
6 181-206 271-309 217-248 271-309
5 151-180 226-270 181-216 226-270
4 121-150 181-225 145-180 181-225

Use this table to convert CELPIP scores to CLB scores:

CLB level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
10 10 10 10 10
9 9 9 9 9
8 8 8 8 8
7 7 7 7 7
6 6 6 6 6
5 5 5 5 5
4 4 4 4 4

Use this table if you want to see the conversion of IELTS General Training scores to CLB scores:

CLB level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
10 8 7.5 8.5 7.5
9 7 7 8 7
8 6.5 6.5 7.5 6.5
7 6 6 6 6
6 5 5.5 5 5
5 4 5 5 5
4 3.5 4 4.5 4

Here are three examples of how language skill requirements vary in different immigration programs:

Prince Edward Island Critical Worker

This is one of the few programs that offers permanent resident status to workers in entry level jobs that don’t require much training or education. You must already be working in PEI and your employer must have offered you a job that will last at least two years. This immigration program can be used by:

  • Customer service representatives, such as bank tellers and store clerks
  • Food and beverage servers, such as bartenders, waiters and waitresses
  • Housekeeping attendants, such as hotel cleaners
  • Labourers, such as people who work general construction on roads and buildings
  • Truck drivers

Language requirement: You must have a minimum score of Canadian Language Benchmark 4 in each skill. If you took the IELTS, you need a minimum score of 3.5 for reading, 4 for writing and speaking and 4.5 for listening. If you took the CELPIP you need a minimum score of 4 for reading, writing, listening and speaking. If you took TEF you need a minimum score of 121 for reading, 181 for writing, 145 for listening and 181 for speaking.

Federal Express Entry Skilled Worker

This program for skilled worker is one of the fastest ways to immigrate to Canada. It is a two-step process that involves two scores. You must get at least 67 points (out of a possible 100) in the first process. If you score at least 67, you can file a profile in the general Express Entry system. When you are in the Express Entry system, you compete against other applicants in a scoring system that awards up to 1,200 points. The government regularly invites top applicants to apply for permanent residency.

Language requirement: You must have a minimum score of Canadian Language Benchmark 7, which is equal to CELPIP 7 or IELTS 6 in all four skills or TEF 207 for reading, 310 for writing, 249 for listening and 310 for speaking.

You may increase your overall points significantly with better test scores. For example, you can add an additional 17 points to your overall score in the second stage by increasing IELTS from 6 to 8.5 and you can earn up 6 additional points for good test results in a second language.

Newfound and Labrador International Graduate

This program is for foreign students who have completed a degree or diploma at a college or university anywhere in Canada. You must have a job offer related to your field of study. If you didn’t do your degree in Newfoundland, then you must already be working and living in the province to apply.

Language requirement: You don’t have to take a test if you have an offer for a job as a manager or a skilled worker. The definition of managerial and skilled work is determined by the National Occupational Classification (NOC), which you can read about here. If your job is classified as NOC O, A or B, you are exempt from the language test if you completed a degree in Canada in English or if your employer writes a letter stating that your language skills are good enough for the work.

If your job is semi-skilled or unskilled (NOC C or D), then you must submit a language test showing at least Canadian Language Benchmarks score of 4. That score equals CELPIP 4 in all four skills, an IELTS score of 3.5 for reading, 4 for both writing and speaking and 4.5 for listening. If you took the French test (TEF), you need a minimum score of 121 for reading, 181 for writing, 145 for listening and 181 for speaking.

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