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Express Entry: Take Your Language Proficiency Score Seriously

By: Alex Nikotina

Published On: January 29, 2016

It has been one year and 25 draws since the launch of Citizenship and Immigration Canada's online application management system, Express Entry. At the beginning of January, we gave a brief overview of Express Entry in 2015. In this article, we will talk about one of the key components of Express Entry’s comprehensive ranking system (CRS): language proficiency.

Are there any exemptions to the language proficiency requirement?

According to Peter Perram, a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant with 30 years of experience and an instructor in the Immigration Consultant Diploma program at Ashton, language assessment is always mandatory under the Express Entry program. “The rationale for this is the accepted belief that successful settlement in Canada for all immigrants (particularly independent immigrants) is their ability to communicate in either French or English,” he explains.

At the time of writing, each of the three immigration programs under Express Entry (Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades, and Canadian Experience Class) require candidates to submit their third-party language test results. Even if you come from an English- or French-speaking country, you are still required to complete a language proficiency test.

What can be used as proof of my language proficiency?

Only CIC-approved tests can be used to prove your language proficiency for Express Entry. There are three approved tests that you can take, two for English speakers and one for French speakers:

  • CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program): you should take the CELPIP-General Test for Express Entry application.
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System): you should take IELTS General Training for Express Entry application.
  • TEF (Test d’évaluation de français): you should take TEF as a proof of your French language skills.

The test results are compared against the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) standard, which is a 12-point descriptive scale that assigns the person’s language abilities within the range of basic to advanced skills.

The comparative charts for the English and French language tests can be found on the CIC website.

How long are test results valid for?

Test scores should not be more than two years old at the time of your application for permanent residence. If your test results expire before you receive an Invitation to Apply, you will either need to take another test, or decline the Invitation to Apply and go back into the pool of candidates – so make sure your scores are valid for the duration of the application process!


What test score do I need to be eligible for Express Entry?

You will need to meet the minimum language threshold requirement for the immigration program for which you are applying for. Each of the three immigration programs have a different minimum requirement:

  • FSW: To be eligible for Express Entry, the candidate needs to meet CLB level 7 in the first official language (English or French). The requirement for the second official language is CLB 5 if the candidates wants to get the Express Entry points.
  • FST: The minimum requirement for Speaking and Listening components is CLB 5 in one of Canada’s official languages (English or French). Reading and Writing sections should meet the CLB 4 requirement.
  • CEC: The requirement depends on the candidate’s skilled work experience. For the National Occupational Classification NOC 0 or A jobs, the minimum requirement level is CLB 7 for English or French. For NOC B jobs, the candidate needs to meet CLB 5 requirement.

How important is my language proficiency score for my application?

Language proficiency is essential to the Express Entry application. Firstly, the application simply will not be processed without the language proficiency test scores – they are mandatory.

Secondly, the applicant’s language proficiency scores account for a significant portion of their overall score. Applicants who are currently married or are in a common-law relationships receive up to 150 points for language proficiency (applicants without a spouse or common-law partner receive up to 160 points). Furthermore, language proficiency also plays a role in the Skill Transferability factors, a section that can amount to up to 100 points in total.

The minimum Express Entry CRS scores for which the candidates that were issued invitations to apply for Canadian residence have ranged from 450 to 489 points last year. Of course, applicants with a Labour Market Impact Assessment LMIA-approved job offer or a Provincial Nomination (either of which amount to 600 points) may not have to worry about earning a high language proficiency score. However, for other applicants, high language test scores can be a key factor in achieving successful immigration to Canada.

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  1. Lina says:

    I get in 6 inwriting 6 speaking 8in listen and8 in Reading
    Can I apply for pr

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