Changes to language assessment for certain Canadian visas announced

by Ray Clancy on March 22, 2010

Changes to certain Canadian visa applications language assessments should increase fairness and reduce delays, it is claimed.

People seeking to move to Canada to work will be required to prove their English and French language abilities at the time they apply for certain immigration visas from next month.

Changes are to be introduced on 10 April 2010 to the procedure for assessing language ability for the Federal Skilled Worker and Canadian Experience visa categories. They will increase fairness and reduce delays, according to immigration minister Jason Kenney.

‘The language requirements themselves have not changed. But prospective immigrants will be required to prove their English and French language abilities at the time they apply. This requirement supports our commitment to fast, fair and efficient application processing,’ he said.

Previously to show language ability at a high enough level in English or French you could either submit a written submission or an independent third party test. The written submission was originally intended for applicants who were native English or French speakers. However, it has been used by others as well which has caused processing delays with applications.

‘We expect that applicants will have the language skills they claim on their application. Now, applicants in these categories will have only one opportunity to prove their language ability.

They can still make a written submission to a visa officer if they wish, but only once,’ explained Kenney.

He added that the independent, third party language test is preferable to a written submission as you will know from the test even before you submit your application your level of ability. With a written submission applicants have to wait for an assessment by a visa officer which will only happen after a formal application and after fees have been paid to Citizenship and Immigration Canada. There is a risk in this situation of fees being paid for an unsuccessful visa application.

‘We strongly encourage applicants whose first language isn’t English or French to take a language test. 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,’ said the minister.

According to Canadian immigration authorities an applicant’s English or French language ability is one of the strongest predictors of their success in the job market. Canadian Experience Class immigration applicants need to meet minimum language requirements depending on the job they do.

Federal Skilled Worker applicants can gain up to 24 points for their language ability.

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