Canada is certainly a land of opportunity, and many countries share a strong bond with this exciting land. Fortunately, there are many opportunities to live, work and study here. That said, if you wish to immigrate to the so-called Great White North, there are certain criteria that have to be met before you can start a new life here.
Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles for some potential Canadian immigrants is the requirement to be fluent in written and spoken English. Well, the good news is that you can prove your ability to communicate in English easily with the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) test!
This evaluation is considered by experts to be one of the best such tests yet developed, and one of the most accepting of different regional versions of the English language. This means that, no matter where you learned English, the test will give you a fair assessment of your fluency.
Many have heard of the ‘Canada English test’ or the ‘Canada immigration English test’. As we will see below, the IELTS encompasses quite a bit more than that. However, the term ‘Canada English test’ is accurate enough. You will have to pass the IELTS or a similar test with a decent score to immigrate to Canada through the most common routes.
Canada’s immigration authority is the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada). This body requires you to demonstrate that you are fluent in either English or French (or better still, both!) in a test which evaluates your ability to read, write, speak and listen in these languages. That’s where the IELTS comes in.
Read on to learn more and, to obtain your visitor visa before you decide to immigrate to this country, click here.
- 1 How Your IELTS Score Is Calculated for Canada Immigration
- 2 All About the IELTS for Canada Immigration
- 3 Can I Use the IELTS for Canadian Immigration?
- 4 Can I Use My IELTS Score to Get a Work Visa to Canada?
- 5 Can I Use the IELTS to Study in Canada?
- 6 Can I Use My IELTS Score to Become a Canadian Resident?
- 7 More Answers About the Canada Immigration IELTS
How Your IELTS Score Is Calculated for Canada Immigration
One of the first questions potential immigrants ask is “What is a good IELTS score for Canada immigration?” Well, the answer depends on what visa you are applying for, or which other immigration route you intend to take.
Each route has different requirements for Canada immigration, and those requirements are not listed in IELTS General Training Scores. Instead, they are listed as CLBs (Canadian Language Benchmarks).
To find the minimum score for Canada immigration for each route, we will first have to learn to translate the IELTS scores into CLBs. As there are 4 types of score (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking), there are 4 identical types of CLBs.
Converting Listening IELTS Scores into Canadian CLBs
*Note that it is impossible to score CLB 11 with the IELTS, as an IELTS 9 is automatically raised to a 12.
Converting Reading IELTS Scores into Canadian CLBs
Converting Writing IELTS Scores into Canadian CLBs
Converting Speaking IELTS Scores into Canadian CLBs
We hope this helps you to work out your score! We’ve provided more information about this English fluency evaluation below.
All About the IELTS for Canada Immigration
The meaning of IELTS is ‘International English Language Testing System’. It is a test used by governments, employers, schools and other organisations all over the world.
This specific test is one of the most popular English language exams in the world. Some 3.5 million people take it each year, and similar numbers are expected to in future. It is the first choice for many of this country’s top employers, professional associations and educational institutions.
This test is popular in so many places and in so many different industries, because it is seen to be fair and unbiased. It avoids accidentally or unconsciously providing a disadvantage to people of certain cultures, and grades are issued on all standard varieties of natively spoken English equally.
That means that speakers of New Zealand English, Australian English, British English and North American English at the same level of fluency would achieve the same score on the relevant tests. This will allow you into the country over the long term.
The IELTS comes in 2 main varieties:
- IELTS Academic is used mainly by universities and certain professional registering bodies.
This version of the test is often considered more difficult, but it is in fact only more specialised. It tests for many aspects of academic language and has been designed specifically to assess whether your English skills are developed enough for you to begin training or studying in this language.
Note that, if your immigration route includes being accepted into a high-level academic administration, training or scholarship role, then your university or other higher educational institution may require the IELTS Academic test. This would be in addition to any actual immigration-based requirements.
Most immigrants don’t take this evaluation, so it’s not the focus of this article.
- IELTS General Training is what we are looking at today. It is used by immigrants to Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, for students at the secondary education level as well as by many employers.
This is the version of the test required by Canada’s immigration authorities. It assesses your ‘basic linguistic survival skills’, such as your ability to understand and make yourself understood in a wide range of workplace, social and informal settings.
Most Canadian immigration routes require this type of language fluency because it is important that you can read, write, speak and understand the speech of others on an informal day-to-day level. This type of fluency matters more to the IRCC and other authorities than high level academic discourse.
The test program has been in existence since 1980. It is worth taking the time to make a preparation plan, so you know whether to go for the Academic or General test.
Also, understanding the test pattern will definitely help you. The length of the set of tests is a total of 2 hours and 55 minutes, broken down as follows:
- Listening: 40 minutes (including a 10-minute transfer time in the paper-based test)
- Reading: 60 minutes
- Writing: 60 minutes
- Speaking: 11–14 minutes
The score or grade range runs from 0 to 9, in 0.5 band increments. We explain above how these are converted into the relevant and necessary Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLBs) for passing the tests.
Bearing in mind that most of the local population speak English and at least some French, it is extremely useful if you can pass the tests in both English and French. There are also a large number of Mandarin speakers here, but fortunately this is not a prerequisite of passing the entry exams!
Statistics show that most entrants do not find it too difficult to reach a level of 6.5 in the test results overall.
Can I Use the IELTS for Canadian Immigration?
Yes, indeed you can. This is one of a very few tests which Canada’s immigration authorities accept as proof of your fluency in English.
To use your relevant scores for Canadian immigration, you’ll have to make sure you ‘tick a few boxes’. For example:
- You must take your IELTS test at an IRCC-approved agency. Canada’s immigration authorities will not accept your test results if the test was administered at a facility not registered with and approved by the IRCC.
- You will then need to enter your test results into your Express Entry Profile online. You may also have to enter the PIN given to you by IRCC for that purpose.
- If you are then invited to apply for Express Entry, you will have to send in a written application and a copy of your written test results.
Your subsequent results will be translated into a new score, called the CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark). We discuss the minimum CLB scores you need when we address different Canadian immigration routes below.
Can I Use My IELTS Score to Get a Work Visa to Canada?
Yes. In fact, the IELTS exam was among the first English language fluency tests to be accepted by CIC and Immigration Quebec. It is a vital part of immigration via the Express Entry (Skilled Immigrants) Program, the Provincial Nominee Program and the Quebec-selected Skilled Workers’ Program.
Please note that, in most cases, you’ll need to be recruited by an employer before you immigrate. Your employer can begin the process of getting a work visa for you.
Can I Use the IELTS to Study in Canada?
Almost certainly. More than 350 different Canadian schools and universities accept the evaluation, so it is likely that you can use it to enter to study. After that, you will need to consider options like a post-graduation work permit if you want to stay here.
Can I Use My IELTS Score to Become a Canadian Resident?
Yes. There are several routes where the IELTS can help you gain either Canadian citizenship or Permanent Residence (PR).
Most of the people seeking entry pin their hopes on one of the Express Entry programs. These are routes to achieving PR status and not temporary work visas. People prefer the sense of security that PR status provides, and the social benefits open to permanent residents and their families.
Once you submit your profile – which must include evidence of your fluency in English at the scores listed below – you’ll become a part of the Express Entry pool. The government then sends invitations to the best-qualified candidates in the pool to apply for a range of PR-based visas.
There are 3 federal programs related to Express Entry:
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC). For this, you must have worked here for a minimum of 1 year.
- The Federal Skilled Trades (FST) Program. This is for people with proof of trade skills with a recognised qualification in any country.
- The Federal Skilled Worker (PSW) Program. This is for people who have both skills and work experience in any country.
In addition, Canada’s various provinces and territories can recruit from the same Express Entry pool as the Provincial Nominee Program.
More Answers About the Canada Immigration IELTS
By now we’ve shown you both how to calculate your IELTS score to immigrate here, and introduced the International English Language Testing System. Keep reading for the answers to some frequently asked questions!
Will I Get Canada Immigration Points for My IELTS Score?
Generally, yes. But that all depends on your route to immigration. We will discuss specific routes below.
What Is the Minimum IELTS Score for Canada Express Entry?
The minimum score for Canada Express Entry through the Federal Skilled Worker Program is a CLB of 7 in all 4 categories. That means an IELTS of 6.
The minimum score required for Canada PR through the Canadian Experience Class program NOC 0 or A is also a 6. If you are using NOC Skill Type B, the requirement is only a score of 5 for Writing, Listening and Speaking, and a 4 for Reading.
What Is the Minimum IELTS Score Required for Canada Immigration Through the Federal Skilled Trades Program?
The minimum score for Canada Express entry via the Federal Skilled Trades Program is a 5 in Speaking, a 5 in Listening, a 3.5 in Reading and a 4.5 in Listening.
Note, of course, that your actual employer might require a higher score to hire you. This is simply the minimum score to apply for the visa which allows you to enter the country.
How Long Will My IELTS Canada Immigration Results Remain Valid?
Your test results remain valid for 2 years after you receive them. You must begin your immigration proceedings within that time. If you do not, you may have to re-sit the exam and generate new scores to continue your immigration application.
Is There a Way to Get ‘Extra Points’ for My English Language Scores for Canadian Immigration?
Yes. If you also take the French language test and score well, you can get extra points on certain immigration schemes (such as the Express Entry for Skilled Immigrants route).
If you scored no higher than CLB 4 in English you will be awarded an extra 25 points. You’ll receive an extra 50 points if you scored a CLB 5 or higher in English.
What Is the Minimum IELTS Score for Canada Immigration for Nurses?
To apply for Permanent Residence in Canada as a nurse, you will need an overall (average) score of 6.5. In addition, your Speaking score can be no less than 7 and none of your other components can be less than 6.
The requirements are a bit more stringent for nurses because nursing is a very technical profession. So clear, easy communication between nurses and patients – as well as between nurses and other healthcare professionals – is crucial to providing the best possible care to every patient.
it is vital that you be quite fluent in the English language, as many of the patients you care for may themselves be speaking English as a second or even third language!
What Are the IELTS Dates for Canada?
Canada offers both Academic and General IELTS testing throughout the year. Note that it is sometimes possible to take the IELTS test in your own country, so you should look for local dates as well.
These evaluations are offered at a range of sites across Canada, including:
- British Council Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
- MacEwan University
- British Council – Eurocentres REGINA
- British Council – English Testing Canada, University of Manitoba, Fort Garry Campus
- British Council Canada Winnipeg
- British Council test location – SAIT Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
- British Council – GEOS Languages Plus Calgary
- Bow Valley College
What if I Do Not Meet the Minimum IELTS Score for Canada PR?
The best option is often to take an English language course to improve your skills.
There are plenty of English language courses available, either on a formal classroom-based level, or in the form of individual or small group tutors. Online language tutoring sessions are particularly popular. Also, an added advantage of online English classes is that you can often learn from a native speaker while you remain in your own country.
Alternatively, you may wish to use a different immigration route to the country which has a language skills requirement close to your tested score.
Can You Immigrate to Canada Without the IELTS?
Yes, there are a few ways to immigrate to Canada without the IELTS.
- If your spouse is already a PR, and you are from an English-speaking country or graduated from an English-speaking high school, you can avoid taking the test.
- If you complete an ESL (English as a Second Language) course, you can often be admitted to a Canadian university without an IELTS score. This opens up the possibility of post-graduate work visas and other options.
- You can ask for an exemption, if you have a good reason to avoid the test. It may or may not be granted.
- You can take one of the few other accepted English fluency tests, such as the CELPIP, TOEFL or CanTest.
I’d Like to Know More About Immigration to Canada
We hope that we’ve found this article helpful. If you would like to find out more about Canada itself, how to apply for visas or any other information, please see our in-depth pages on this wonderful country. You can start by checking our Canada Immigration Express Entry page!