Language Tests for Canadian Immigration

What language test do you need for immigration to Canada? Here is our guide to learn about the differences and make the choice.

12 Dec 2021, 11:11 am


min read

canada immigration language test

Applicants who have their sights set on Canadian immigration are required to undertake language tests as part of the immigration application process. While some consider undertaking an English test for Canadian immigration, others seek to improve their scores by adding a French test for Canada immigration. 

A wide majority of the Canadian economic immigration programs require language certifications, with very few exceptions, such as the International Experience Canada (IEC) or spousal sponsorship.


Whether you take an English test or a French test for Canada immigration, your skills and proficiency level must be authorized with adequate certifications. 

All immigration programs under the Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) require language proficiency tests.

You will be required to take an English test for Canada immigration, even if English is your first language and you speak as eloquently as Meryl Streep.

The Canadian authorities will require a score and certification to verify your proficiency*.

*Keep in mind that each test comes with its scoring system and the Canadian authorities rely on their Canadian Language Benchmark Levels (CLBs) to compare results and create a unified scoring system.

Keep reading to look at these language proficiency tests in more detail.

English Tests for Immigration to Canada

As mentioned above, there are two English proficiency tests for Canada: IELTS, and the CELPIP. These two are equally acceptable for immigration or Canadian citizenship language proficiency, however, IELTS is accepted throughout the world and widely available across all countries.

IELTS for Canada 

canada immigration language test

IELTS for Canadian immigration comes highly recommended as it is the most widely accepted and internationally available English proficiency test for Canada.

  • Experts strongly recommend applicants to take IELTS as their chosen English test for Canadian immigration. 
  • IELTS is quite competitive and applicants are advised to undergo training.
  • IELTS is relatively a more convenient option as there are numerous testing centers across the globe, and you can easily find a training facility in your city or region. 
  • IELTS is available in two categories: General Training and Academic. IELTS for Canada immigration requires General Training certification, which is relatively easier than IELTS Academic.
  • IELTS will test your four language abilities and provide an accumulative score for each ability to determine your overall score. IELTS validity for Canadian immigration is a crucial factor to consider, and your test must be less than 24 months old. 

CELPIP for Canada 

The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) is an English proficiency test for Canada that was introduced by the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). It is different from IELTS as it is designed for Canadian English, which combines Canadian accents with British and American English. IELTS, on the other hand, is designed for international English language proficiency. 

There are two types of CELPIP: The General Test and the General LS Test. You need to take the General Test CELPIP for Canadian immigration or permanent residence

IELTS vs CELPIP: How to Choose an English Exam

canada immigration language test

If you are caught up in the CELPIP vs IELTS debate, we understand that this can prove to be a difficult decision and it weighs heavily on your application, particularly if you’re applying through the Express Entry route. 

When you come to think of it, the CELPIP vs IELTS conundrum has a very simple answer: IELTS is more convenient and widely accepted for its international recognition.

Initially, the CELPIP could only be taken by applicants living in Canada, but recently, its testing facilities are being expanded across the globe. Candidates based in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can take this test easily.

IELTS offers greater convenience with testing and training centers located all over the world. General IELTS for Canada immigration is far easier than CELPIP, making it a wiser and smarter choice for those who do not speak English as a first language. 

French Tests for Canada Immigration

The Canadian government aims to enhance its population of French proficient immigrants by 4.4% by 2023. To achieve this goal, a special preference is given to the applicants who undertake and pass any one of the French tests for Canada immigration, approved by IRCC. 

The Most Common And Widely Accepted French Tests For Canadian Immigration Include:
  • The Test d’Évaluation de Français (TEF)
  • Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF)
  • Test de français international (TFI)
  • Test d’Evaluation du Français adapté pour le Québec (TEFAQ)

Depending on your chosen immigration or citizenship program, or the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) of your chosen province, the Canadian immigration authorities will require proof of your proficiency in the French language. 

TEF for Canada

The Test d’Évaluation de Francais (TEF), also known as the French Evaluation Test, requires the candidates to exhibit their French linguistic abilities to provide proficiency scores for their immigration or citizenship applications.

To Whom The TEF Language Test Is Mandatory?
  • Applicants who seek to immigrate to Canada and apply for Canadian citizenship.
  • Applicants who need to exhibit their French language proficiency for employment purposes.
  • Applicants who are international students and have applied for a program or university that requires French language proficiency.

The TEF language test structure consists of three written sections: vocabulary and syntax, reading comprehension, and written expression. It also includes two oral sections: oral expression and listening comprehension. 

If you are undertaking this French test for Canada immigration purposes, you will have to undertake all five parts. However, if you are taking the TEF language test for Canadian citizenship, you only need to take listening comprehension and oral expression. 

TCF for Canada

The Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF) is an ideal option for international students, and this is an advanced level test that is generally required for certain programs taught entirely in French. If you are planning to pursue a degree within a French-based program or university, your application will require the TCF language test to establish your linguistic abilities.

The TCF comes with sections of mandatory and optional tests. The compulsory section comes with three subsections and a total of 76 questions. Applicants have around 90 minutes to complete the mandatory section of the TCF exam. 

Is It Possible For Applying Multiple Times?

Applicants can take up this test multiple times to improve their score, with a gap of 60 days between each attempt. It is ideal to take this French test for immigration long before your application deadline or the beginning of your university term. This will improve your score even if the first test does not go well.

TEF vs TCF: How to Choose a French Exam?

canada immigration language test

Are you overwhelmed by the choices and are struggling to choose the right French test for Canada immigration? Experts strongly recommend applications to choose the TEF language test for it is widely accepted, and the required choice for applicants entering Canada through the Express Entry route. 

However, if you are applying for a French-based university program, TCF will likely be a mandatory requirement. Read more about the difference between TEF & TCF.

How to Choose a Language Test for Canada

Language Tests for Canadian Citizenship 

Your chosen immigration program will determine the test you need to take and the adequate scores you ought to obtain. Regardless of which program you are considering, the Canadian citizenship language test results should be at least less than years old when you submit your application. 

Canadian immigration protocols require the applicant to submit language proficiency results from an authorized organization.

There Are Two Authorized Organizations For An English Proficiency Test For Canada:
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

Applicants who wish to submit their language proficiency scores in French can take the Test d’évaluation de français, simply known as the TEF language test. Keep in mind that the Canadian immigration authorities do not have any preferences, and the results from each of these tests are valued based on the uniformed scoring system of the CLBs. 

Applicants are advised to take whichever Canadian citizenship language test they find most convenient; however, certain provincial programs may require them to learn French as a second language. 

Each of the three tests mentioned above will allocate scores for your four language proficiency skills: Reading, listening, speaking, and writing. 

Language Tests for Quebec immigration

The language test requirements for Quebec immigration depend entirely on the pathway you choose to apply for Canadian immigration in this province.

Three Major Routes To Quebec Immigration:
  • Quebec Experience Program
  • Quebec Business Immigration

Each of these routes come with their own Canadian citizenship language test requirements.

The Quebec Skilled Worker Program allocates scores for both, English and French tests for Canada immigration. The Quebec Experience Program does not have any English test requirements, but it requires French language proficiency, for which the TEF language test is the ideal option.

Students applying through this route can enjoy the advantage of taking up French courses or pursuing a degree in French. 

The language test requirements for the Quebec Business Immigration program depend on the application chosen by self-employed, investors, and entrepreneur applicants. 

You may also check your eligibility online:

Language Tests for Studying in Canada

The exact testing requirements for studying in Canada depend on your chosen program, province, Canadian university, and immigration visa route. However, student visas in Canada accept a wide array of language proficiency tests, including IELTS, TEF, TCF, CAEL, TOEFL, and others. 

If you think there are still some things that you need to clarify, an RCIC agent might come in handy. They can help with the whole process.

Frequently Asked

Where To Take The English Test For Canadian Immigration?
Applicants can appear for the IELTS language test at their nearest IELTS training and testing facilities. Such facilities are available all over the world and can be searched using your location and region. However, CELPIP Canada is not available across the world, except in Canada, Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Can We Go To Canada Without IELTS Or Other Language Test?
English test for Canada immigration is a general requirement in most immigration programs, such as the Express Entry program. Students, skilled workers, and entrepreneurs are required to provide evidence of their language proficiency with test scores from an authorized language testing body. IELTS is the most widely accepted English proficiency test. 

However, this tends to vary based on the exact program and province the applicant chooses for immigrating to Canada. 

Where To Take French Test For Canadian Immigration?
Applicants can take the TEF language test that is approved by IRCC, at their nearest training and testing facility operated by the TEF authorized body. These training and testing facilities are located all over the world. Applicants living in Canada can find their nearest testing center based on their location.  
Get started on the Road to Permanent Residence
Sign up to our newsletter to receive our PR Roadmap delivered straight to your inbox, along with the latest immigration news!

Sidrah is a writer and a dentist who moved to Canada in 2017. Currently, she resides in Calgary with her husband and son. Although she isn't a big fan of frost and snowstorms, she has come to love her new hometown and poutine.

You may also like

New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program, or NBPNP, is a program designed for graduates, workers, entrepreneurs, and simply anyone who wants to become a resident of this province. Keep reading to find out how this program works.


If you are living in Canda and dreaming of getting reunited with your family, do not hesitate! From Sponsorship Visa to Super Visa, your family is welcomed in Canada.


Solid Visa is a private consultancy that helps assess eligibility to immigrate to Canada and guides candidates though immigration processes. In the review below you will learn about the services they offer, their overall reputation, as well as the reasons why we consider this an OK choice for immigration company.

Editor’s Note

You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent immigration advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone. This content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser, unless otherwise noted below.

Need Help?

Moving to a new country is a massive, life-changing decision with high stakes. You can’t afford to have things go wrong when the future of your career and family depends on the success of your visa application