New Language Requirement for Canadian Citizenship Takes Effect
Canadian Citizenship applicants are now required to submit tangible evidence of their language ability along with their application after changes in language requirements came into effect on November 1, 2012.
Under the Citizenship Act, citizenship applicants must have an adequate knowledge of one of the official languages of Canada, which means they must have the ability to speak and understand basic statements and questions in the given language.
Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney clarified that no changes have been made in the required level of French or English language for applicants but changes apply to the way those aged between 18 years and 54 years demonstrate their language ability.
Under the former procedure, language ability was assessed by a written citizenship test; an applicant who failed the written test had to pass an oral interview with a citizenship judge. Until November 1, 2012, there was no procedure in place to objectively test the language abilities of Canadian citizenship applicants.
The change was first announced by Minister Kenney on September 28, 2012. Accordingly, applicants for Canadian citizenship must provide objective evidence that they meet the Canadian Language Benchmark level 4 in speaking and listening, when they file their application.
Acceptable proof of language abilities may include the following:
the results of a Citizenship and Immigration Canada (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.
The new requirement for those aged between 18 years and 54 years applies to applications received as of November 1, 2012. After that date, CIC will return any citizenship applications filed by those applicants which include no objective evidence of language ability.