Language ability changes for Canadian citizenship applicants

by Ray Clancy on October 1, 2012

Applicants will need to provide evidence of their language ability

Expats wishing to become Canadian citizens will soon be required to provide up-front objective evidence of their language ability at the time they apply, it has been announced.

Currently, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) assesses the language ability of applicants, aged 18 to 54, solely through interactions with CIC staff and by using the results of the citizenship knowledge test.

But from next month applicants must provide objective evidence that they meet the language requirement, achieving the Canadian Language Benchmark/Niveau de compétence linguistique canadien 4 in speaking and listening, when they file their application.

‘Extensive research has consistently shown that the ability to communicate effectively in either French or English is a key factor in the success of new citizens in Canada. We believe it is important that new citizens to be able to participate fully in our economy and our society,’ said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

The Citizenship Act already requires that applicants be able to communicate in one of Canada’s official languages. This regulatory change will not increase the language level required but will change the way that citizenship applicants demonstrate their language ability.

Under the old rules, there was no objective way to test language abilities of applicants. Under the new rule applicants will be required to submit acceptable evidence, such as the results of a CIC approved third party test, or evidence of the completion of secondary or post secondary education in English or French or evidence of achieving the appropriate language level in certain government funded language training programmes.

While CIC will continue to use the applicant’s interaction with CIC staff and with citizenship judges as part of the language ability assessment, the new regulations mean that applicants must first provide objective evidence that they meet that requirement when they file their application.

CIC will return the applications of those who do not provide evidence of language ability up front, enabling CIC to focus resources on processing those who do meet the requirements, Kenney explained.

The requirement for adult applicants to provide objective evidence of their language ability with their citizenship submission applies to every application received as of 01 November 2012.

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