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New language testing for Canadian immigration has been authorised by IRCC.

Early to mid-2023 is the estimated release date for the next language exam.

The designation-in-principle of a new language exam for immigrants applying under the economic class has just been accepted by IRCC.

By early to mid-2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) expects to have the exam in place.

A briefing letter from May 10 that CIC News was able to get by making a request for access to information had the name of the new language exam redacted. Currently, there are just four recognised organisations: TEF and TCF for French, IELTS and CELPIP for English.

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Despite some early difficulties during the epidemic, the IRCC reports that there are still enough approved testing organisations to accommodate the demand of immigrants and citizens. However, an increase in the number of firms requesting certification as language test providers has prompted the IRCC to look for reforms.

Currently, the procedure for designating an organisation is drawn out, difficult, and "insufficiently transparent."

In the upcoming 12 months, the IRCC will look for prospective initiatives and enhancements, according to the memo. These improvements are anticipated to increase the number of organisations interested in designation if they are put into effect. IRCC is now free to engage in as many contract agreements and possible language testing providers as it wants.

The departmental tasks and responsibilities associated with language exams are not yet well defined and have ramifications for both policy and operations. The Immigration Branch's language designation team at IRCC must combine file administration tasks with pursuing the new policy goals.

The policy priorities' specifics were withheld. However, we are aware that the IRCC's top priority right now is to finish and sign the service agreement with the unidentified firm in order to grant a formal designation and start the implementation process. Conducting policy analysis of emerging concerns is one of the mid-term goals. The long-term goals then centre on a more thorough assessment of the language designation framework, which includes the primary technical designation criteria and newly emerging evidence results connected to benchmark levels of language competency.

IRCC is assessing how well the CLBs match the CEFR.

Since some people believe the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) is excessively specific for testing purposes when compared to the Common European Framework of Reference, IRCC is actively investigating it (CEFR). Participants in the CEFR test receive their scores on an alphabetic scale instead of a one-to-seven scale: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.

In order to guarantee that all authorised language test constructs are equal in terms of the degree of difficulty and test objective, the letter states that more study on the CLB levels is necessary.

The IRCC asserts that French testing must be included.

These programmes' policy objectives and design would have to be in line with other departmental aims, particularly the IRCC's responsibility to facilitate the immigration of francophones across the nation.

The document predicts increased demand for French-designated businesses to expand their testing capabilities as well as increased interest from new French testing firms seeking designation. "Organizations that deliver the TEF and TCF are ready to meet increased demand, but this effort will better position the Department for any prospective growth in demand, particularly through a more effective procedure for designating additional French language tests," the TEF and TCF website states.

An overview of language testing

Since 2010, the IRCC has only accepted language competence exam results from authorised organisations.

The present policy, which restricts acceptance of test results from certain independent testing companies, was designed to allow applicants for immigration to demonstrate their language proficiency while also assuring a fair and open procedure.

To assess the language competency of immigration applicants, the immigration minister has the power to appoint any language testing agency and to authorise a particular language exam. The Director of Economic Immigration Programs and Policies has been given responsibility for this task.

While the foundation for the designation of organisations is provided by the immigration rules, the department devised the designation process based on a variety of variables, including statutory requirements, policy and programme objectives, as well as operational demands. Any company that offers language testing can apply for designation by submitting a document proving that they adhere to the IRCC's requirements.

Who needs to take a language exam?

The majority of Canada's economic class immigration programmes demand that applicants pass a required English or French language exam. The justification for evaluating language competence is that, according to Canadian government studies, it plays a significant role in a person's capacity to integrate into the Canadian society and the economy.

Since they are granted Immigrate to Canada for social and humanitarian reasons, immigrants in the family and refugee classes are exempt from taking a language exam.

Individuals between the ages of 18 and 54 must prove their proficiency in either English or French when seeking Canadian citizenship. They can verify their language skills in other methods that have been authorised by IRCC or by submitting the results of a language test.

Temporary foreign employees are exempt from this requirement, but international students must do so in order to show that they would be able to succeed in Canadian academic environments. Each Canadian-authorised learning institution has its own requirements for proving language ability, but the Canadian government has its own guidelines for the language exams it will accept for approving study permits.

Next actions

The IRCC's Immigration Branch will create proactive measures to enhance the language designation system.

In order to support the IRCC's ongoing initiatives, it is important to examine the designation procedure in order to make it more effective and transparent. It is also important to improve internal and external communication as it pertains to the overall framework.

The Immigration Branch will also investigate the viability of developing a language designation programme with dedicated management and programme responsibilities and enough capacity to provide a more streamlined and cogent approach to language testing in response to the rising demand for language testing. While preserving the present open intake approach to language testing designation, a specialised programme would assist IRCC in broadening its policy.