Canadian Immigration Increases its Language Proficiency Demands; Several Programs Affected by the Change


Language proficiency has become an increasingly significant factor in determining Canadian immigration applicants’ eligibility to settle in the country. In order to address the high rates of underemployment currently present among Canada’s immigrant population, Citizenship and Immigration Canada announces new language requirements for several Canadian immigration programs.

 According to a research by Mesbah Sharaf, assistant professor in the Department of Economics at Concordia University, new immigrants find themselves in occupations that do not match their level of education at an alarming rate. It is not uncommon to find an engineer driving a cab, or a pediatrician taking up a cashier job and, according to Sharaf’s study, approximately 70 per cent of men and 65 per cent of women are over educated for their current occupation four years after their arrival. Sharaf identifies a number of causes for this incongruence, and establishes that the language barrier is one of the most prominent of such causes.

 In order to avoid this severe occupational mismatch, CIC has decided to deal with the issue at the door of immigration. “We’re going to stop this practice of inviting highly trained people to come to Canada if […] they’re not likely to succeed in the labour market,” said Minister Jason Kenney in March of last year.

 Starting in January 2013, a proof of language proficiency is now required for several immigration programs: the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

 Applicants to these programs must now provide prove that they have a certain level of language proficiency outlined by the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) system. At present, three organizations offer assessments that indicate CLB levels: The International English Language Testing System (IELTS), which provides tests at various locations around the world, the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP), which gives tests within Canada only, and the Test d’Evaluation de Français (TEF), which is the only assessment agency for French language proficiency accepted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

 To find out more about the proof of language proficiency and other requirements for applications to the FSWP, FSTP, PNP, and CEC, applicants are encouraged to fill out an eligibility assessment. Canadian immigration law FWCanada provides a free online assessment to potential immigrations.

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