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English Language Proficiency Level for Canadian Citizenship

July 8, 2020BY Faisal Mustafa

Moving to Canada is a dream destination for many people. Canada has been one of the most desired countries in the world to live and acquire citizenship. There are many criteria required for getting citizenship, and language requirements are one of them. There are two official languages of Canada, English and French, and both are needed for citizenship.

If we focus on the English language, a minimum level of requirement is required to apply for and get Canadian citizenship. So, what is the minimum level, and how can one get there to acquire citizenship in Canada?

What Level of English Language Proficiency is Needed

Level of Language Required for Canadian Citizenship

Either knowledge of English or French language is required to acquire Canadian citizenship. Adequate expertise for citizenship implies that applicants meet level 4 of speaking and listening capabilities.

Overall, the level 4 competency means that an applicant has a minimum understanding of English to start or continue a conversation with a native. Additionally, this proficiency level suggests that applicants can use different tenses in simple sentences and can answer questions asked in English by a native speaker.

Details on the Level 4 English Proficiency

People who are usually between 18 to 54 years of age apply for citizenship. This means that these people will have to provide evidence of their English language proficiency. The requirement is level 4 ability of the Niveaux de compétence Linguistique Canadien (NCLC) or the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB).

The detailed descriptions of this level 4 proficiency are as follows:

  • The applicant must be able to indulge in short, simple, and everyday conversations.
  • The applicant must be able to clearly understand simple notions, instructions, questions, and replies.
  • Applicants must be able to use basic English grammar, without many mistakes and good range in simple sentence structures, and tense.
  • Applicants must be proficient and fluent in oral communication for others to understand clearly.
  • For oral communication, applicants must have a good knowledge of common vocabularies and a good range of unique words.

These are the detailed meaning behind a level 4 proficiency for English language requirement for Canadian citizenship. An applicant must provide proper documents from authorized channels while applying for citizenship. In addition, applicants do not need significant written proficiency.

What Are the Documents that You Need to Submit?

The following documents or proof of English language proficiency must be submitted while applying for citizenship:

  • A third-party language test that is approved by IRCC. This document will show CLB or NCLC level 4 or higher proficiency in listening and speaking.
  • A medium of instruction from your educational institution can be an alternative document. For example, diploma certificates or transcripts of secondary or post-secondary education showing medium of instruction in English, either in Canada or abroad, can be submitted as proof.
  • If you have taken part in a government-funded language course that can show CLB or NCLC level 4 or higher proficiency, that can be a proof of English language document as well.

Some individuals may have undergone language testing while applying for permanent residency. They can show that as proof of English proficiency as well. Even if the document or assessment has been expired, it will still work as evidence.

Where to Give Tests to Check English Language Proficiency?

If you are enrolled in a school in Canada, post-secondary or secondary, the sealed transcript or the diploma certificate can establish that you meet the English language requirement. In case you do not have that, you always sit for tests in the following places to prove your knowledge of English for Canadian citizenship:

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

You can choose either the CELPIP General test or the General LS. Both the tests check your English listening and speaking proficiency.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

This is a widely used testing system to check English proficiency. However, there are two types of IELTS. To apply for citizenship in Canada, you will need the General IELTS.

If you have immigrated to Québec, you might have used the results of tests such as

  • Diplôme approfondi de langue française (DALF),
  • Test de Connaissance du français (TCF),
  • Diplôme d’études en langue française (DELF), or the
  • Test de Connaissance du français pour le Québec (TCFQ)

You can show those as part of your immigration application. In this case, these results can be used for English language proficiency.

List of Approved Language Tests by IRCC

The followings are the language tests that are currently being accepted by IRCC for application of Canadian citizenship:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS), and
  • Canadian English Language-Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP General and LS)

How Your Application is Evaluated?

The authority uses the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) to measure the English language proficiency of applicants. CLB or NCLC is the official standard of measurement of English language proficiency.

It describes measures and recognizes the ability of adult immigrants to communicate with others in their second language. This method evaluates each applicant fairly and precisely. As already mentioned, the CLB or NCLC requires level 4 proficiency in the English language for citizenship in Canada.

There are two steps of evaluation:

Step 1

In the first step, the authority checks all your documents. And will verify the authenticity of the documents and certificates. Finally, if the applicant fulfils the minimum requirement of level 4 proficiency, the application moves to the next step.

Step 2

The last step before finalizing the citizenship decision is the interview assessment. Authorities and staff check how well an applicant can communicate through a one-on-one interview.


Being a Canadian citizen is a privilege that everyone cannot afford. Along with many other requirements, the English language is a core and essential assessment done by authority. While applying for citizenship, an applicant must have a valid and authentic certification from the mentioned centres. Once the evaluation criteria are completed, you can become a citizen of one of the world’s most peaceful and prosperous countries.

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    Frequently Asked Question

    To get permanent residency, you have to live for at least three years in Canada. You also need some other documents to apply for Citizenship.

    In generally takes six months to get the citizenship after taking the Citizenship Test and Interview.

    People aged between 18 to 54 have to take the citizenship test and Interview.

    Oath taking ceremony generally takes 45 to 60 mins to complete. However, the time may vary upon the number of applicants and citizens.

    Yes, any Citizen who is a Canadain Citizen can renounce his citizenship status if he wants. He may apply for renouncing the citizenship under certain conditions.

    The answer is yes. You can again apply to resume your Citizenship status though you have renounced it once.

    The total fees for applying for Citizenship in Canada is CAN $ 630. Among the prices, $530 is for processing fee, and $100 is for the right of  Citizenship fee. But for minors aged under 18, the processing fee is $100.