Citizenship Applicants to Face New Language Rules

New language provisions for citizenship applicants will take effect on November 1, 2012. Canada’s Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister, the Honourable Jason Kenney, promises that the new language regulation will NOT increase the language proficiency level that is currently set under the Citizenship Act, 1985, but rather, it will provide CIC staff and citizenship judges with an objective means to test the language ability of applicants—a move that the Minister believes will allow “[…] new citizens to be able to participate fully in our economy and our society”.

Under the current system, the language abilities of applicants, aged 18 to 54, are assessed by using the results of the citizenship knowledge test.  And depending on their overall English and/or French competency, applicants are instructed to complete, either a written or an oral exam (Generally, oral exams are provided to those with writing and reading difficulties).  While this method of assessment gets the job done, it does not ensure equal, consistent, and non-biased evaluations.

Applicants planning on submitting citizenship applications on November 1, 2012 or later, will be expected to provide objective evidence to demonstrate that they meet the language requirement (Canadian Language Benchmark/Niveau de compétence linguistique canadien 4) in ‘speaking’ and ‘listening’, at the time of submission.

As announced, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) will be accepting the following evidence:

  • results of a CIC-approved third party test; or
  • proof of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French; or
  • proof of achieving the required language level in certain government-funded language training programs.

It is important to note that all applications NOT accompanied by one of the above-mentioned evidence, will be returned by CIC—causing a delay in the application process.


Click here to learn how to prepare for the Citizenship Test.

Click here for the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmark website.

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