What Is The Language Requirement?

As part of proving you are eligible for Canadian Citizenship, you must demonstrate your ability to communicate in English or French at a high enough level if you are between the ages of 18 and 54. Canadian Language Benchmarks are the standards in listening, reading, speaking and writing that are used to decide whether or not you have good enough language skills.

To get Canadian citizenship, you will have to submit proof, by submitting one of the following

  • Proof that you attended an accepted educational program in English or French OR
  • Proof of langue test results that show you have achieved the acceptable standard on a IRCC-approved language test in either English or French.

As of autumn 2012, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC, formerly CIC) has mandated that all applicants for Canadian citizenship provide proof that you are able to speak one of Canada’s official languages (either English or French) at a high enough level that you will be able to function and interact in Canada. There are two ways you can prove you meet the language requirements:

Meeting the Canadian Citizenship Language Requirement Through Education

As proof, you can provide any of the following documentation from an English or French speaking country or school (Canada included):

  • Copy of high school diploma, or
  • Copy of college or university degree/diploma.

If you have either of these diplomas, you must have attended the school that issued the diploma in a country where

  • the main language is either English (i.e. USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, etc., see full list) or French (France, Algeria, etc., see a full list), OR
  • they must be from an English or French university in any country (such as John Cabot University in Rome, Italy or American University of Beirut in Beirut, Lebanon).

Note: A single course (class) in English or French language is not enough to meet the requirement. A trade certificate (ex. plumbing) from Canada by itself is also not acceptable. You must have earned a full degree (or diploma) and provide a copy of it (or full transcripts) from the educational institution proving that you met all the requirements for earning the degree (or diploma).

If you are going to submit transcripts instead of a degree or diploma, you must have graduated from the educational institution for your transcripts to qualify as meeting the language requirement. A transcript from an institution that you did not graduate from will not be accepted.

Meet the Canadian Citizenship Language Requirement Through Providing Language Test Results

If you haven’t graduated or earned a diploma from one of the above institution, you will have to take one of the acceptable language tests. IRCC accepts only three types of language tests. Further, they have a list of test providers whose results they accept as proof that you meet the requirement.

Acceptable Language Tests and Programs for Canadian Citizenship

  • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program General (CELPIP-G) test (not the academic version), OR
  • CELPIP-General LS – a two-skills (listening and speaking) version of the CELPIP general test, OR
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS), general training (not the academic version), OR
  • Test d’Évaluation de Français (TEF) or Test d’Évaluation du Français adapté au Québec(TEFAQE) or TEF épreuves orales.
  • For Manitoba: A “progress report” from the Manitoba government issued since January 2009. You will have to ensure your report indicates speaking and listening skills are at least at “ Canada Language Benchmark level 5” or higher.
  • For Quebec: A bulletin by the Ministère de l’immigration et Communautés culturelles Québec (MICC) issued since June 2001. You must ensure that your most recent assessment in “ intéraction orale” is at least NCLC level 4 (Échelle québécoise). Also, certain other test results may be acceptable if used for Quebec immigration purposes in the past.
  • For British Columbia (BC): A document of proof from BC’s English Language Services for Adults (ELSA) program. You must ensure that you have achieved at least Canadian Language Benchmark 4 in listening and speaking skills.
  • Completing the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC). Check the box on the application form if you successfully completed this course. If you completed the course between January 2008 to October 31, 2012, you should provide a copy of the certificate of completion if one was issued to you. If you successfully completed the LINC/CLIC course since November 1st, 2012, a certificate will have been provided to you. A copy of this certificate is required to prove that you completed the course. Note: Completion of LINC/CLIC before 2008 does not qualify for proof of meeting the language requirement.

Potential Problems When Submitting Proof of Meeting the Citizenship Language Requirement

When submitting the proof that you have met the language requirement, be aware of the following issues that could arise:

  • Your diploma or transcripts are in any language other than English or French – these will not be accepted, even if you completed your courses in English or French.
  • Your diploma or transcripts are in English or French, but your diploma or transcript is from a school which does not specify that it is an English or French School – again, these will not be accepted; the school must obviously instruct in English or French.
  • You did not complete your diploma or degree – as noted above, you must have completed the program and graduated for it to count towards the language requirement.
  • Your transcripts do not confirm that you graduated – as noted above.
  • You completed courses in English but did not receive a high school, Bachelor’s, Master’s or Ph.D. degree in English or French – you cannot submit individual courses at an education institution as proof you meet the requirement.
  • You completed a degree but not all of your classes were in English or French – 100% of your classes must be in English or French.
  • You have earned a trade certificate in Canada only, but do not have a diploma – trade certificates do not normally involve language education or the regular use exercise of language skills at a high level.

You must ensure that you meet the language requirements first before submitting your Canadian citizenship application. If you submit your application without proof, with insufficient proof or information that cannot be confirmed or is considered suspicious, your application may be rejected, or it may be delayed because you may receive a Residence Questionnaire (RQ).


What if I attended an English/French school but I can’t get proof?

Then you will have to pass a language test and submit the results in order to get Canadian citizenship. There is no way around this requirement.


Does everyone need to provide proof of language ability to get Canadian Citizenship?

No, minor children under the age of 18 years of age applying for citizenship do not have to provide proof of language ability and anyone 55 years of age or older does not have to provide proof either.


What is the Canadian Citizenship Test and Why Do I Have to Write It?