Can you Migrate to Canada without IELTS?

Language skills are very important for settling and integrating into Canadian life. To establish yourself in Canadian society you need to be able to communicate with the locals in one of Canada’s official languages - English or French. For this reason, the Canadian government (IRCC) requires foreign nationals, regardless of their country of birth, to take either an English language test (IELTS or CELPIP) or a French-language test (TEF or TCF) to migrate to Canada.

The good news is that you don't necessarily need to be fluent in either language. The level of language proficiency depends on the immigration program through which you choose to apply for permanent residency in Canada. Learn more about Canada’s language tests for immigration purposes below!

What Language Test Can You Take to Immigrate to Canada?

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You must take an approved language test for immigration purposes. As you may know by now, you can take the IELTS and the CELPIP tests to demonstrate your English-language proficiency. If you’re a Francophone, then you can sign-up for either the TEF or TCF tests. Better yet, if you’re bilingual then you can take both an English and French test to achieve the highest CRS score of 50 points for language ability on your Express Entry profile!

Learn more about the approved tests below:

Approved English Tests
CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index ProgramYou must take the CELPIP-General test
IELTS: International English Testing SystemYou must take the General Training option
Approved French Tests
TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français,Your test must include writing, speaking, listening, and reading comprehension.
TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du françaisYour test must include writing, speaking, listening, and reading comprehension.

What is the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)?

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Your language test results will be used to determine your language level according to the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) or the French equivalent, Niveaux de compétence Linguistique canadiens (NCLC). The IRCC refers to CLB and NCLC levels for language requirements on your permanent residency application.

The CLB and NCLC are not tests but rather a scale describing 12 levels of ability in each of four different language skills - Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing. There are three stages in the CLB. Stage 1 covers basic language ability (benchmarks 1 to 4). Stage 2 covers intermediate language ability (benchmarks 5 to 8). Stage 3 covers advanced language ability (benchmarks 9 to 12).

Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)

For example, candidates who apply through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) of the Express Entry system need a minimum CLB score of 7 in all four language skills compared to Federal Skilled Trade Program (FSTP) candidates who only need a minimum CLB score of 5 for speaking and listening and a minimum CLB score of 4 for reading and writing to migrate to Canada.

Note: You need to take your language test first before you can work out your CLB levels. Below are the CLB equivalencies for test scores received on the IELTS General Training:


International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Language Test Equivalencies
CLB LevelReadingWritingListeningSpeaking
10 and above87.58.57.5

Language Tests to Study in Canada

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What about if you want to study in Canada? Which language tests are accepted by Canadian universities and colleges? Canada is a popular destination for thousands of international students because of its world-class learning institutions with beautiful campuses, incredibly diverse student populations, and more importantly, its exclusive post-graduate visa options for foreign students.

Language Tests for Academic Purposes
Language TestEligibility
Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Accepted by over 180 universities and colleges across Canada, including all English-speaking universities and 82% of English-speaking colleges.
Cambridge Assessment of EnglishAccepted by over 200 schools in Canada including nearly all public universities.
Duolingo English TestAccepted by almost 140 post-secondary institutions.
IELTS AcademicAccepted by some 400 Canadian universities and colleges
Pearson Test of English (PTE)Accepted by 90% of Canada’s universities and colleges.
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Accepted by over 400 Canadian universities and colleges including 100% of universities.
Tests offered by individual institutions The University of Toronto and McGill University

Before registering for an English language test, make sure that the Designated Learning Institution (DLI) you are applying to accepts the test. DLIs are universities and colleges that are authorized to accept international students. If you study an eligible course that’s at least 8-months long at a DLI in Canada then you could qualify for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) in Canada. With a PGWP, you can work anywhere in the country to kick-start your career and gain valuable work experience.

Learn more about how you can study in Canada and the amazing student life, here!

Easy Canadian Immigration for French-Speakers

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Parlez-vous francais? If you can speak French we have good news for you. You will be able to migrate to Canada even easier due to your language skills. The IRCC recently announced new changes to the Express Entry CRS system will allocate more language points to French candidates! French-speaking candidates will now receive 25 additional points for their language skills, up from 15. The new changes aim to develop and support the Francophone communities outside of Quebec. “We will continue to attract Francophone immigrants to make sure that Francophone minority communities flourish,” said Immigration Minister, Marco Mendicino.

Prepare For Your Test With Canadian Visa

Just because you can not migrate to Canada without IELTS or an equivalent test, doesn’t mean you should give up on your dream of living in Canada. Our IELTS preparation course can help you write your test with confidence and score full marks in all language categories!

If you want further assistance with your permanent residency application, we can take care of the intricate process on your behalf. Canadian Visa is a certified immigration and visa agency with a team of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) who can help you discover your perfect path to Canada from over 100 options.

All you have to do is complete our application form to receive your eligibility assessment today. It's just that simple.