Completing an English or French language test that is officially recognized by the Canadian government is mandatory for skilled worker candidates that want to secure a permanent residence (PR) visa to move to Canada.
In fact, obtaining high language test scores is among the best ways of increasing your odds of successfully immigrating to Canada.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) accepts the following four language tests:
Most immigration applicants speak English, and hence, choose to either take the CELPIP or IELTS General Training Test.
Candidates with knowledge of English and French and who want to obtain additional points (e.g., under Express Entry) may choose to take tests in both languages.
Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and the rest of Canada’s immigration system continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in recent days, there have been numerous Express Entry and PNP draws held.
However, the coronavirus has led to lockdowns in Canada and around the world, which has made it difficult for immigration candidates to complete their language tests, such as the CELPIP and IELTS General in recent months.
The official language test providers are subject to local laws, which they are complying with to ensure the health and safety of immigration candidates as well as their employees.
In recent weeks, Canadian provinces have been releasing plans to ease their lockdown restrictions. For instance, Canada’s largest province, Ontario, has announced plans to further expand the list of business that can reopen within the coming days.
Language test providers are responding by making their tests more readily available.
In Canada, IELTS tests are currently available in British Columbia (BC), Alberta, and Manitoba.
CELPIP is also currently being delivered in BC. Paragon Testing Enterprises, the company that administers CELPIP, anticipates that it will be delivering tests in Alberta, Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador within the coming weeks.
Abroad, CELPIP is currently available in Hong Kong.
“We monitor the situation with COVID-19 daily and will have more locations in Canada and internationally delivering the CELPIP test as soon as it is safe to do so”, Michelle Avelena of Paragon Testing Enterprises, said to CIC News.
IELTS is currently operational in 29 countries. These include significant source countries of immigrants to Canada, such as Australia, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and Vietnam. IELTS has set tentative test dates in more countries in the weeks and months to follow.
Monica Aguirre of IDP IELTS Canada explained to CIC News that “as more places start to open up, we will be assessing the situation following local mandates to make sure we are complying with the health authorities.” IDP is one of the three co-owners of IELTS, along with the British Council, and Cambridge English Language Assessment.
Both Avelena and Aguirre stressed that extra health precautions are in place at CELPIP and IELTS test sites to protect the health and safety of test takers, employees, and test centre personnel.
In the meantime, coronavirus-related disruptions should not discourage immigration candidates from still going ahead and preparing themselves and their applications.
Candidates may wish to capitalize on the opportunity to spend more time studying for their CELPIP or IELTS exam to improve their chances of achieving their Canadian immigration goals.
Finally, IRCC and numerous provinces have stated they will not reject applications if candidates provide an explanation that their application is incomplete because of COVID-19 interruptions.