The Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has recently announced a new language test for Canada immigration or for economic class immigration aspirants. The new format of the language proficiency test will be rolled out in 2023.
Currently, there are four assigned organizations for language proficiency tests for Canada PR - IELTS and CELPIP for English and TEF and TCF for French. These designated organizations for language ability tests for Canada immigration are keeping up with demand and requirement of Canada immigration and citizenship applicants. The increasing number of applications for Canada immigration and citizenship in recent years and regular demand to redesign language ability test by language test providers, prompted the IRCC to consider improvements.
The IRCC is currently reassessing the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) after the concerns by experts that its format is not standardised for testing purpose compared to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). It is important to note that CEFR test-takers are rewarded scores that are given on a scale of one to seven on an alphanumeric scale of A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.
The IRCC further stated that deep study is required on the CLB levels to create a level-playing field for all test-takers in the level of difficulty and test purpose. The IRCC aims to ensure that all approved language test structure and constructs are equal in nature. It will make language test for Canada immigration transparent and efficient.
Currently, the IRCC does not cap the potential number of language testing providers and contractual agreements to enter for language testing for Canada immigration purposes. However, the experts noticed that the process for a test provider or an organization to get designated by the IRCC is long and complicated.
During the pandemic period, the IRCC could meet its target of immigration and citizenship applications with the help of designated testing organizations. A growing number of language test provider organizations seeking acknowledgement forced the IRCC to reconsider its current policies.
Now, the IRCC will look into potential actions and improvements in the next 12 months. If considered and implemented, these updates might result into gaining designated agency status for language testing for Canada immigration purposes.
The official roles and responsibilities for language testing for Canada PR are not defined properly currently. The language designation team at the IRCC has to balance file management work besides promoting the priorities of new immigration policies. In such cases, the policies overlap sometimes and have operational challenges on some occasions.
The IRCC is planning to soon sign the service agreement with a company so that it can be designated officially and the implementation process can be started. Other priorities of the IRCC include analysing emerging issues due to change in policy, broader review of the language designation framework and evaluating outcome related to language proficiency benchmark levels.
Similar steps will be taken for French language testing. According to experts, organizations dealing with TEF and TCF are ready to meet the growing demand of applications and testing processes, a more efficient process to identify more designated French language test providers can be considered. Improving language test for Canada immigration will also help in selecting the right applicants for PR.
The point-based Canada’s economic class immigration programs (in the age group of 18-54 years) give priority to language proficiency of applicants in either English or French. The language ability of applicants in writing, speaking, listening and understanding shows that they are able to work and live in Canadian communities. Same concept applies to applicants seeking student visa. Such immigrants and international students are an asset for local industries and the economy in Canada. The final visa approval is granted by the IRCC after evaluating all credentials of applicants.
It is important to understand that for student visa the language proficiency scores vary in each Canadian designated learning institution (DLI), but the federal government of Canada has its own rules for language test for Canada immigration. One must have the government approved benchmark language ability score to gain study permit approval.
Language ability score is not a concern for applicants seeking Canada immigration through family and refugee class immigrants since they are granted visa for social and humanitarian issues.
Applicants seeking work permit and provincial nomination need to have language proficiency score to prove that they will be able to settle in Canadian settings and workplaces.
Since 2010, the IRCC has only accepted language test scores from designated test providers or organizations as proof of language ability in either English or French. This also ensured a fair, strict and transparent testing process.
Director of Economic Immigration Programs and Policies plays the role of implementing a designated language testing organization as well as to approve a specific language test for the purpose of assessing language ability of immigration aspirants.
The identification of a designated language test provider is based on several factors such as policy and program objectives, operational demands, regulatory requirements and so on. This means that any language testing organization can apply for designation by submitting their credentials and intent to meet IRCC’s criteria.
The news reports informed that the Immigration Branch of IRCC will develop action plans to improve the language designation framework in coming months.
The Immigration Branch also aims to explore establishing a language designation program with specific management and program functions. In order to manage the growing number of language testing for Canada PR, an efficient framework to streamlining volumes of applications and logical approach towards language testing will be explored. Experts believe that the IRCC requires a dedicated program to expand its policy, while maintaining the current system of designating language testing providers (organisations).
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