Minister Kenney announces new language rules for citizenship applicants

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Ottawa, September 28, 2012 — Most citizenship applicants will soon be required to provide up-front objective evidence of their language ability at the time they apply, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced today.

This change will be implemented as of November 1, 2012. Currently, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) assesses the language ability of applicants, aged 18–54, solely through interactions with CIC staff and by using the results of the citizenship knowledge test.

“Extensive research has consistently shown that the ability to communicate effectively in either French or English is a key factor in the success of new citizens in Canada,” said Minister Kenney. “We believe it is important that new citizens to be able to participate fully in our economy and our society.”

The Citizenship Act already requires that applicants be able to communicate in one of Canada’s official languages. This regulatory change will not increase the language level required but will change the way that citizenship applicants aged 18–54 demonstrate their language ability.

Under the old rules, there was no objective way to test language abilities of applicants. Under the new rule, applicants must provide objective evidence that they meet the language requirement, achieving the Canadian Language Benchmark/Niveau de compétence linguistique canadien 4 in speaking and listening, when they file their application. Applicants will be required to submit acceptable evidence, such as:

  • the results of a CIC-approved third-party test; or
  • the evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French; or
  • the evidence of achieving the appropriate language level in certain government-funded language training programs.

While CIC will continue to use the applicant’s interaction with CIC staff and with citizenship judges as part of the language ability assessment, the new regulations mean that applicants must first provide objective evidence that they meet that requirement when they file their application. CIC will return the applications of those who do not provide evidence of language ability up front, enabling CIC to focus resources on processing those who do meet the requirements.

The requirement for adult applicants to provide objective evidence of their language ability with their citizenship submission applies to every application received as of November 1, 2012.

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For further information (media only), please contact:

Alexis Pavlich
Minister’s Office
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Media Relations
Communications Branch
Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Building a stronger Canada: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strengthens Canada’s economic, social and cultural prosperity, helping ensure Canadian safety and security while managing one of the largest and most generous immigration programs in the world.

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