Canada Proposes Strict Language Rules for Citizenship Test

Prospective new applicants for Canadian citizenship may have to demonstrate their English language skills by providing objective evidence as proposed by Canada Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.

The Citizenship Act requires the applicants to be able to communicate in either of the official Canadian language. Canadian citizenship applicants currently prove their proficiency in either English or French by writing citizenship knowledge test. However, the proposed changes will require the applicants between the age of 18 and 54 years to demonstrate language ability by submitting a variety of evidence, including:

the results of a third party test;
evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French; or
evidence of achieving CLB/NCLC 4 in certain government funded language training programs

The proposed new rule that applicants must provide objective evidence that they meet the language requirement when they file their application would give citizenship judges better evidence on which to base their decision. Citizen and Immigration Canada (CIC) would also be able to return applications of those who do not provide evidence they meet the requirements more quickly, thus improving application processing.

“The ability to communicate effectively in either French or English is key to the success of new citizens in Canada,” said Minister Kenney. “This change will encourage applicants to ensure that they can speak English or French when they apply for citizenship, thereby improving the integrity and effectiveness of the citizenship program for Canada and for new Canadians alike.”

In the past the Citizenship knowledge test has been proven a credible evidence of applicant’s language proficiency in English or French as without good language skills it is not possible to pass the test. Taking language test to prove the language proficiency may be considered an extra financial burden by some otherwise qualified applicants, hence, deterring them not to apply for citizenship.

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