New Language Rules for Canadian Citizenship Applicants

Citizenship and Immigration Canada has just announced that there will be new language requirements for Canadian citizenship applicants between the ages of 18 and 54, going into effect starting on November 1st, 2012.

These new language rules will be much stricter, requiring applicants to provide physical evidence of their language abilities as opposed to demonstrating them at the time of the citizenship test.

For example, applicants currently finish a written test as well as discuss or confirm elements on their application with officials to determine their language ability. If they fail the written part of the test they can undergo an interview with a citizenship judge, which they must pass.

When the new rules come into effect, applicants need to provide evidence before any testing of their abilities, in the form of:

The passing results of a Citizenship and Immigration Canada-approved third party language test
OR
Proof that the applicant has completed education in an official language
OR
Proof that the applicant has been involved in and passed language training programs that are funded by the government.

What are the specific language requirements?

Canadian citizenship applicants will be expected to be at or above Canadian Language Benchmark level 4 for speaking and listening, which means:

You need to demonstrate that you can understand a conversation on an everyday topic, that you can understand most simple questions, that you can follow instructions, that you can use connecting works like “because”, “next” or “but” and that you can ask people to repeat something you don’t understand.

You must also indicate that you can introduce two people to each other, that you can discuss what you need and what you have done, that you have the ability to buy something or speak to a doctor, that you can use the past tense with common verbs and that people will mostly understand you, but may have to ask you to repeat yourself.

These new language requirements can be very daunting, and if you do not provide the required evidence your application will be returned to you. Please contact us before you file your Canadian citizenship application – we could mean the difference between approval and denial.

Any information provided here does not constitute legal advice and is intended for general information only. Should you require legal advise, you are encouraged to contact a lawyer directly. All blog postings are public and are not subject to solicitor/client confidentially. Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case, and case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any further case undertaken by the lawyer.

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