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December 19, 2003


IELTS test for Canada immigration not required in ALL cases

Lenient regulations for professionals.

The new Canadian immigration regulations came in to force on 28th June 2002, officially known as the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). This act has bought about fundamental changes in all classes of immigration to Canada including the skilled worker class.

Under the skilled worker class, professionals are admitted in to Canada on permanent immigration basis provided they are qualified in those occupations that require post secondary education. To be more precise, as per the regulations, the applicant's occupation should fall under the skill level categories of O, A & B of the Canadian National Occupation Classification. Points are awarded for education, work experience, age, language, arranged employment and adaptability - which includes spouse's education, Canadian education, Canadian work experience, blood relatives in Canada and job offer from Canada. Applicants are required to score minimum of 67 points out of 100 (as per the press note issued by the Canadian government on 18th September 2003).

Out of the above-mentioned criteria, points for language are crucial for prospective immigrants whose first language is other than English. Under the new regulations, the visa officer is no longer responsible for assessing the language proficiency of an applicant. Rather, the applicant is required to take an independent language test to prove his/her proficiency in one of the two official languages of Canada, English and French. The applicants have to specify in the visa application regarding the first preferred language of communication - English or French. For the English language, the government recommends the applicant take the IELTS test and for French language, the TEF test.

Immigration points are awarded based on the score obtained by the applicant in the language test. For IELTS test, the applicant is required to appear for the general module of the language test and score the necessary band in all the four parameters of the test, namely, Reading Writing, Speaking and Comprehension.

If the score in the language test is between band 7.0 and 9.0, then four immigration points are awarded for that parameter. It is important to note that the immigration points are awarded for each individual parameter and not just the overall band and then added up. If score is between band 5.0 to 6.9, two immigration points are awarded. If score is less than band 5.0, no immigration points are awarded for that parameter.

For example, an applicant will be awarded the following points for the IELTS scores (bands) given below:

Reading - 7.0 Band = 4 immigration points
Writing - 6.5 Band = 2 immigration points
Speaking - 8.0 Band = 4 immigration points
Comprehension - 6.0 Band = 2 immigration points

Therefore the total points received for language in the immigration application will be 12 points out of a maximum of 16 points (presuming that English is the first language of communication).

Contrary to common belief, an applicant is not required to undertake the language test to prove his/her proficiency in the English language provided the applicant can produce alternate proof of proficiency in the language.

Regulation 79 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulation provides that -

"Skilled workers must specify in their application for a permanent resident visa which of English or French is to be considered of their first official language in Canada and which is to be considered their second official language and must,

(a) Have their proficiency in those languages assessed by an organization or institute designated under this regulation or
(b) Provide other evidence in writing of their proficiency in those languages."

If the applicant is not claiming points for French language it is not necessary to take the French language test. Our firm has assisted many applicants in proceeding with their immigration applications without appearing for the IELTS test.

It should also be noted that the same regulation also provides that if the provided proof for language proficiency is not found to be satisfactory by the visa officer, the visa officer may ask the applicant to take the IELTS exam. If the applicant takes the test, it will remain a conclusive evidence of the applicant's level of proficiency in the English language and neither the applicant nor the visa officer will be able to dispute the results.

This regulation is beneficial to applicants who are proficient in the English language and who are likely to face little or no difficulty in obtaining the necessary immigration points. This regulation also puts to rest the discontent applicants felt (that resulted in many court cases, appeals and arguments) regarding visa officers being unfair in granting sufficient points in the language category of the application.

However, many applicants coming from Asian countries find the English language requirement very tough and they may not receive the necessary passing points due to lower proficiency in the language. Such applicants can look in to other options of immigrating to Canada - either by getting a HRDC approved job offer from an employer in Canada or under the Quebec immigration program.



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