New Language Requirements for Citizenship Applicants

Canada is changing the way citizenship applicants prove their ability in English or French, which are the country’s two official languages. Beginning November 1, 2012, they will need to submit proof of their language skills at the time of their citizenship application.

Until now, applicants between the ages of 18-54 (check here for those below 18 and above 54) had to prove their language ability through their interaction with the staff of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Citizenship Knowledge Test.

Objective Testing

“Objective Testing” appears to be the key for the new guidelines. Under these, applicants will have to provide proof that they meet Canadian Language Benchmark or the French language Niveau de Competence Linguistique Canadien Level 4 in Speaking and Listening. This has to be provided at the time of application.

The Level 4 proves the applicant is proficient in the following:

  • Can communicate basic needs and personal experiences,
  • Can follow simple formal and informal conversations,
  • Can write short messages or directions, and
  • Can read a set of instructions in plain language.


Applicants can choose one of the following three ways to submit the proof:

  • Through a third-part test approved by the CIC. This could include the International English Language Testing System (IELTS),
  • Completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French, or
  • Achieving the language proficiency requirement through certain government-funded language training programs.


What happens if the applicant cannot submit proof of language proficiency?

The citizenship application gets returned.


What is the process for those under 18 and over 54 ?

Citizenship applicants under 18 get their citizenship as dependents on their parents’ file. Those over 54 of age are exempt from the language requirements.


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