Language Proficiency Exams for Canadian Immigration: What You Need to Know – Guest Post

Language Proficiency Exams for Canadian Immigration

If you are looking to immigrate to Canada through any of their programs, there is a probability that you need to prove your language proficiency. Canada is one of the countries that accept English proficiency because most of the people here speak English and is their First language. You can also show your proficiency in French, but it all depends on the program you choose for immigrating to Canada.

Barring a few programs like Spousal Sponsorship and International Experience Canada, for most of the economic immigration programs you need to prove your language proficiency. The language test is required even if you are coming to Canada to study and must not have less than 6.5 bands overall in IELTS and not less than 6 in any module.

There are two accepted tests for English, The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP). IRCC just started accepting the Pearson English Test from this academic year for Study Permit. Earlier students who did PTE were categorized under Non-SDS. If you want to do a language proficiency in French then Test d’évaluation de français (TEF) and Test de connaissance du français (TCF) are the only two tests.


IELTS is an internationally accredited language proficiency test. There are two types of tests in IELTS. One is for Academics and the other is for General. Academic is for students who want to study abroad and for the people who are coming for research work like for a Ph.D. or their master’s program. For all the programs of immigration, you need to take IELTS general which is a little bit easier compared to the academic. IELTS has 4 modules, Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking and your average score in all the modules is your performance result. For Canadian Immigration, there are different requirements for different programs. For the Federal programs like Express entry and Federal skilled worker stream you need a minimum of 6.0 overall. To apply under the Canadian Experience class for jobs in NOC B you need at least CLB 5 and for NOC A you need a minimum of CLB 7. Your IELTS score is then converted to the CLB which is the Canadian Language benchmark. 


Unlike IELTS which is an international test, CELPIP is designed by IRCC, especially for Candian Immigration considering the Canadian English which contains elements of British and American English and the Candian Ascent. There are two types of CELPIP one is the general test and the other is the General LS test. For Canadian Immigration you have to take CELPIP general, you could only take CELPIP inside Canada but now is expanded to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Republic of Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, India, China, and the United States. Like IELTS there is no option for a paper-based test, you only have the Computer-delivered option and the speaking section is also computer-based. The test consists of the following components:

Listening (47-55 minutes)

Reading (55-60 minutes)

Writing (53-60 minutes)

Speaking (15-20 minutes)

Total test time: About 3 hours

The format of scoring is compared with the Candian Language Benchmarks.


Pearson English Test is a new test that was recently accredited by the IRCC for Study permits. Pearson developed this test to meet the Candian requirements. Like other tests, PTE has 4 sections Listening, writing, reading, and Speaking. It’s a fully computer-based test and you don’t have the option to go paper-based. PTE is only recognized for students and is not accepted for immigration purposes. It’s a globally accepted test for the UK, Australia, and other countries but is recently recognized by Canada. The entire test is 2 hours long and is completed in one sitting. So now students who are applying from South Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc come under the SDS category for student visas.


TEF is for native speakers who know French. Same as in other tests TEF has 4 sections listening, Reading, writing, and Speaking. Your overall score in all the modules is your result. There are two types of TEF available. TEF and TEFAQ. TEFAQ is required for Quebec immigration while TEF is accepted both federally and in Quebec.

The TEF Canada consists of 4 modules: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Learn more.

Written comprehension (CE): 60 minutes – 50 questions – 300 points

Oral comprehension (CO): 40 minutes – 60 questions – 360 points

Written expression (EE): 60 minutes – 2 topics – 450 points

Oral expression (EO): 15 minutes – 2 topics – 450 points


Designed specifically for those planning to immigrate to Canada and must demonstrate French language ability as part of the immigration procedure. Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recognize the TCF for Canada, which follows the same framework as the TCF “tout public.” The scoring method, however, is tailored to the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB).

The structure of the TCF – Canada is the same as that of the TCF “Tout Public,” with the exception that all four sections are required for Canadian immigration purposes.

Whatever test you take, your scores will be transformed into Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) or Niveaux de competency linguistique canadiens (NCLC) levels. CLB values range from 4 (poor) to 10 (outstanding). When Canadian immigration programs mention a language requirement, they normally refer to a CLB level.


All the Language testing exams have a validity of 2 years and you must apply for a Canadian Visa within 2 years. All the exams have different scoring systems but CLB provides a benchmark to compare the performance of all test applicants. The language proficiency test is an important factor in determining your eligibility for the Canadian PR. There is a maximum of 128 points in CRS for a single applicant and 136 if you have a spouse or common-law partner. If you need more advice regarding your eligibility for Canada you can contact immigration consultant in Alberta for all your Canada visa-related queries.

Author Profile:

Harinder P Singh

I contribute to, sharing the excitement of immigration’s promise—a chance for individuals, regardless of background, to create a better life abroad. Beyond writing, I find joy in drawing, cooking, baking, and savoring music. Immigration, to me, symbolizes hope for a brighter future for families and loved ones.