Most applicants to Canada’s economic class immigration programs must pass the English or French language test. The IRCC has approved a new language test for those applying for immigration under the economic category. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) expect to have the test in place by early to mid-2023. There are currently only four designated organisations: TEF and TCF for French, IELTS and CELPIP for English.
The majority of Canada’s economic class immigration programmes require candidates to pass an English or French language test in order to be admitted. According to Canadian government research, a person’s ability to integrate into Canadian society and the economy is heavily influenced by their language skills.
Immigrants in the family and refugee classes are exempt from taking a language exam because they are admitted to Canada for social and humanitarian reasons. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 54 must demonstrate proficiency in either English or French when applying for Canadian citizenship. They can verify their language skills through other IRCC-approved methods or by submitting the results of a language test.
Despite some initial difficulties during the pandemic, IRCC believes the number of certified testing organizations is sufficient to meet the demand of immigrants and citizens. However, due to the growing number of organisations requesting accreditation as language test providers, the IRCC must seek changes. Currently, the designation process for an organisation is drawn out, difficult, and ‘insufficiently transparent’.
According to a memo, the IRCC will look for prospective initiatives and enhancements over the next year. If these changes are implemented, it is expected that the number of organisations interested in designation will increase. Currently, IRCC is free to enter into as many contract agreements and language testing providers as it desires.
The departmental tasks and responsibilities associated with language exams have yet to be clearly defined, and this has implications for both policy and operations. At IRCC, the Immigration Branch’s language designation team must balance file administration tasks with the pursuit of new policy priorities. Because some people believe that the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) is overly specific for testing purposes when compared to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), IRCC is actively investigating it.
The CEFR test scores participants on an alphabetic scale rather than a one-to-seven scale: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. The letter states that additional research on the CLB levels is needed to ensure that all approved language test constructs are equal in terms of degree of difficulty and test objective. According to the memo, French-designated institutions will face increased pressure to expand their testing capabilities, as well as increased interest from new French testing companies seeking designation.