IRCC approves Pearson Test of English for Canadian immigration applications

Kareem El-Assal
Published: February 1, 2023

IRCC has just announced it has approved the Pearson Test of English for Canadian immigration applications.

Beginning in “late 2023”, the Pearson Test of English (PTE) will join CELPIP and IELTS General Training as one of three designated language tests that economic class candidates will be able to complete to demonstrate their English language proficiency to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

PTE Essential is a new English language test that Pearson has created to meet IRCC's language proficiency requirements for Canadian immigration applicants. IRCC has different language criteria for study permit applicants which means that international students generally need to take the "Academic" version of a language proficiency test.

The approval of PTE Essential means there are now five total language tests available to economic class immigration candidates—in addition to the three aforementioned English language tests, the TEF Canada and TCF Canada are the two French language tests designated by IRCC.

IRCC requires that economic class candidates complete language proficiency testing to demonstrate their ability to economically establish in Canada. Statistics Canada research shows strong proficiency in English and/or French language proficiency is a strong predictor of economic integration in Canada.

IRCC has not specified when applicants will be able to submit PTE Essential in support of their Canadian immigration applicants, however it has written on its website it anticipates it will be in a position to do so towards the end of 2023.

Canada offers over 100 different pathways for economic class immigrants. Under the Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025, the leading admissions pathways are the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) and Express Entry. Applicants for other economic class pathways such as IRCC pilot programs, the Atlantic Immigration Program, and Quebec skilled worker programs must also complete a language test designated by IRCC.

In addition to completing an IRCC designated language test, candidates must achieve the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score set for a given pathway. For example, under the popular Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), candidates must obtain a CLB of at least 7 in all four abilities (writing, reading, listening, and speaking). The minimum standard required for certain programs is a CLB 4.

For certain pathways, such as those managed via Express Entry and expression of interest systems operated by the provinces and territories, candidates receive more points the higher there CLB score is.

In 2022, CIC News obtained an internal IRCC memo confirming that the department had approved of a new language test for Canadian immigration purposes. The memo also outlined potential language testing reforms the department was exploring.

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