Canadian Immigration Questions and Answers with Attorney David Cohen

CIC News
Published: August 2, 2016

Every month, Attorney David Cohen will answer a few general Canadian immigration questions submitted by our readers. These questions cover immigration programs, eligibility, processing, language requirements, investing in Canada, landing, admissibility, studying in Canada, working in Canada, and much more.
Here are this month's questions and answers.

1. I find the conversion from various language tests to Canadian Language Benchmarks very confusing. Is this information presented in a simplified way anywhere?

The government of Canada has developed what are known as the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLBs) in order to assess the language proficiency of immigration candidates. However, the standardized language tests recognized by the government of Canada, listed below, do not provide test results using the CLBs as units of measurement. Indeed, each test assesses candidates differently. For many people, this can be confusing.

The Canada Immigration Language Converter is an exclusive tool designed for the purpose of providing clarity on this matter. Users can input their test results and see the corresponding CLBs, or they can input the CLBs they know they need and see the test results they need to obtain for their specific situation. The tool works both ways.

An individual’s proficiency is determined using results from a test issued by a designated organization. There are two designated organizations for English language testing:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

CELPIP tests may only be taken within Canada, whereas IELTS tests are held in various locations around the world, including Canada.

For French language testing, the only accepted test for federal economic immigration programs is the Test d’Evaluation de Français (TEF). For economic immigration to the province of Quebec, other tests may be taken; to learn more about proving French language ability for immigration to Quebec, click here.


2. What does the government of Quebec mean when it speaks of ‘areas of training’ for the Quebec Skilled Worker Program?

Under the Quebec Skilled Worker Program — a points-based Canadian immigration program — up to 16 points may be awarded for an individual’s area of training. This equates to the individual’s diploma or degree, with certain types of education (training) awarded more points than others. An individual’s work experience does not affect the points awarded for area of training.

From time to time, the government of Quebec revises the number of points awarded for different areas of training in keeping with changes in the provincial labour market. Currently, occupations in engineering, health care, IT, natural sciences, business, and trades are prioritized under the QSWP, though this list is by no means exhaustive.

Given that under the current program regulations a single applicant requires only 49 points in order to be eligible (applicants with an accompanying spouse or common-law partner require 57 points), the area of training may provide up to around 30 per cent of a potential applicant’s points total.

To view an interactive area of training table, click here.

Please note that Quebec will begin to accept new applications for this program as of Tuesday, August 16. Individuals have until this date to create a profile under the program’s Mon projet Québec online application management system. This step is mandatory for people wishing to submit an application. You can read the latest Quebec immigration news in the previous edition of CICNews.

(Note that Quebec also calls this program its ‘Regular Skilled Worker Program’.) 


3. I have read that Canada’s new government and Prime Minister are open to the rights of LGBT people. Does this extend to Canada’s immigration laws?

For many years, Canada has been known as a place where people and couples in the LGBT community can live openly and in freedom. This reality has arguably never been more evident than under the current government, with the Prime Minister having recently raised the Pride flag over the Canadian Parliament. Canada’s immigration laws reflect this national openness towards LGBT people.

Under economic immigration programs, under which Canada welcomes the majority of new permanent residents, same-sex marriage is recognized in the same way that a marriage between a man and a woman is recognized.

Under Canada’s Family Class immigration category, individuals can apply to sponsor their same-sex partner as a spouse if the sponsor:

  • is a citizen or permanent resident of Canada and
  • the couple were married in Canada and issued a marriage certificate by a Canadian province or territory on or after one of these dates:
    • British Columbia (on or after July 8, 2003),
    • Manitoba (on or after September 16, 2004),
    • New Brunswick (on or after July 4, 2005),
    • Newfoundland and Labrador (on or after December 21, 2004),
    • Nova Scotia (on or after September 24, 2004),
    • Ontario (on or after June 10, 2003),
    • Quebec (on or after March 19, 2004),
    • Saskatchewan (on or after November 5, 2004),
    • Yukon (on or after July 14, 2004) or
    • all other provinces or territories (on or after July 20, 2005).

If the couple was married outside Canada, the sponsor may apply to sponsor his or her partner as long as the marriage is legally recognized according to both the law of the place where the marriage occurred and under Canadian law. If the couple is unmarried, the sponsor may be able to sponsor his or her partner as a common-law or conjugal partner.

In order to apply for refugee status in Canada, applicants must have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country. Individuals from certain countries and regions around the world may be able to claim refugee status on the grounds of their sexual identity.

If you would like your general immigration question to be featured in our newsletter, please email your question to

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