Feds streamline language rules for immigrants

Applicants get one chance to prove official language proficiency

The federal government is streamlining the process for assessing the language skills of immigrants to make the application process more efficient.

Beginning April 10, when immigrants apply to come to Canada through the Federal Skilled Worker and Canadian Experience classes, they will be required to prove their English and French language abilities at that time, said Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney.

Previously, to prove language ability in French or English, applicants could either submit an independent, third-party test or a written submission to a visa officer. The written submission was intended for people whose first language is either English or French.

However, many applicants whose first language was not English or French were taking advantage of the written submission. The submission wouldn’t adequately prove their ability and they would have to provide further evidence, leading to processing delays that could take months.

“Now, applicants in these categories will have only one opportunity to prove their language ability,” said Kenney. “They can still make a written submission to a visa officer if they wish, but only once.”

For faster, fairer processing, all applicants are encouraged to submit independent, third-party language test results. The language test gives applicants a clear indication of their ability before they apply. When submitting written proof, applicants don’t know what their results will be until their application is assessed by the visa officer.

“We strongly encourage applicants whose first language isn’t English or French to take a language test,” said Minister Kenney. “We don’t want immigrants to be surprised if their written submission doesn’t match their reported ability, and they don’t get the desired assessment.”

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