Backgrounder Article from  Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Archived - Proof of Language Ability Requirements for Citizenship

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Since the Canadian Citizenship Act of 1947, adult applicants for citizenship have been required to have an adequate knowledge of Canada’s official languages, English or French. This requirement reflects the importance of language ability to newcomers’ successful integration.

The Citizenship Regulations outline the criteria for determining adequate knowledge of an official language. The level required is Canadian Language Benchmark / Niveau de compétence linguistique canadien (CLB/NCLC) 4 in speaking and listening. With a CLB-4 level in English or a NCLC-4 level in French, an individual can take part in short, everyday conversations; understand simple instructions, questions and directions; and use basic grammar, sentence structures and verb tenses.  

On November 1, 2012, citizenship regulations came into force that introduced a requirement for adult citizenship applicants to provide objective evidence of their language ability at the required level at the time they submit their citizenship application.

The current list of acceptable language evidence to be submitted along with a citizenship application form includes federal and provincial (BC, Manitoba and Quebec) government language training certificates, CIC-approved third-party language test results, and evidence of completion of a secondary or post-secondary education in English or French, in Canada or abroad.

This evidence assists CIC staff and citizenship judges in deciding whether or not an applicant meets the official languages criteria set out in the Regulations. CIC returns applications from those adult applicants who do not provide evidence of language ability up front, enabling CIC to focus resources on processing those who do meet the requirements.

Ontario’s Adult Non-Credit Language Training Program is delivered through Ontario public and Catholic school boards. It covers English as a Second Language (ESL), French as a Second Language (FSL) and Citizenship and Language (CL) training to newcomers. The language training is aligned with the Canadian Language Benchmarks and is available to adult immigrants whose first language is not English or French.

Ontario has demonstrated that its provincial language training program meets CIC’s criteria to be added to the list of acceptable language evidence for citizenship purposes. The province has provided information on the reliability of their language assessments against the Canadian Language Benchmarks and that its certificates have met CIC’s program integrity and processing efficiency requirements.

Adding Ontario’s certificates to the list will facilitate access to citizenship for applicants in the province who enroll annually in Ontario’s provincial language training program.

Search for related information by keyword

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Government and Politics

Date modified: