Everything You Need to Know About the Language Requirements for Canadian Citizenship

Everything You Need to Know About the Language Requirements for Canadian Citizenship

As part of your application for citizenship in Canada, you may have heard that you must provide proof of proficiency in one of Canada's two official languages (English and French) up to certain requirements in order to qualify for citizenship. Here, our Ottawa and Orleans immigration doctors explain more about Canada's language requirements for citizenship applications.

When applying for Canadian citizenship, one of the key pieces of proof and documentation that you will have to provide Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), is proof of your proficiency in one of Canada's two official languages: English and French. But what kind of proof is accepted by IRCC when applying for Canadian citizenship? And what is considered acceptable proficiency? Here, our immigration doctors explain more. 

Language Requirements for Canadian Citizenship

As part of the citizenship application process, certain applicants may be required to prove that they have proficiency in either English or French. Applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 are required to prove this proficiency, while people age 55 and over or 18 and under are not required to prove their proficiency in either of these languages in order for their applications to be accepted.

Generally speaking, the base qualifier for proficiency when applying for Canadian citizenship is defined as a Level 4 grade on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) or an equivalent as determined by the IRCC. The Canadian Language Benchmark is the standard by which IRCC rates both English and French skills when fielding applications for permanent residence, citizenship and other applicable visas. 

The Level 4 grade on this benchmark signifies that a person can do the following:

  • Understand a conversation on familiar, everyday topics
  • Understand simple questions
  • Ask and answer simple questions
  • Have enough vocabulary for everyday conversations; and
  • Demonstrate an understanding of basic grammar, including proper use of verbs and tenses.

Proof Of Language Requirements for Canadian Citizenship

You may be wondering what you can actually use as proof that you fulfill these above requirements. The IRCC accepts a number of different kinds of proof of proficiency in English or French, depending on what you have available to you.

If you are starting your Canadian citizenship application process, the IRCC's website has a questionnaire available to you in order to learn how you can fulfill the language requirements.

Find out if you have the language proof for citizenship

The following are some of the ways that you can fulfill the language requirements for your Canadian citizenship application:

Proof That You Graduated From A Secondary or Post-Secondary Program In English Or French

If you attended and graduated from either a secondary or post-secondary program conducted in either English or French, you can use official documentation of your graduation from the institution as proof that you acquired English or French proficiency in the process.

The school you graduated from can either be in or outside of Canada. If your proof of graduation must be in either English or French. if it is in another language, then you will need to have your proof of graduation translated into one of those two languages by a translator who is certified by a Canadian professional association. This translation will have to definitively show that your program of study was conducted in either English or French despite your documentation not being recorded using those languages.

IRCC accepts the following documents as proof of graduation from a secondary or post-secondary English or French program:

  • diploma
  • transcript
  • certificate

Please note, that generally graduation from programs that don't obviously involve language education such as a trade certificate (like plumbing school, for instance), will not be considered adequate proof of language proficiency.

Proof of IRCC-Recognized Language Test Results

If you have not completed an English or French-language education, there are other options for you to fulfill the language requirements for Canadian citizenship!

The second option that you have is to provide test results from a recognized language test that are the equivalent of a CLB Level of 4 or greater.

The IRCC currently accepts test results from the following tests:

  • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program General Test (CELPIP-G)
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General Training
  • Test d’Évaluation de Français (TEF)
  • Test d’Évaluation du Français adapté au Québec (TEFAQ)
  • Diplôme approfondi de langue française (DALF)
  • Diplôme d’études en langue française (DELF)
  • Test de connaissance du français (TCF)
  • Test de connaissance du français pour le Québec (TCFQ)

Each of these tests has its own grades that are measured against the CLB benchmark. You can sign up to take any of the above tests and, if you meet the equivalent benchmark of Level 4 on the CLB in the test that you take, you can submit your results as part of your citizenship application.

If you completed one of the tests above as part of your application for permanent residence in Canada, the results of your test may be able to serve as proof of your proficiency, even if the test results have since expired. Fill out the following online questionnaire on the IRCC website.

Find out if your previous test results can be used as proof of language proficiency

Are you applying for Canadian citizenship and need help with your application? The doctors at Immigration Physician Ottawa can point you towards relevant resources for providing proof of your language requirements. Contact us today.


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