Prospective Citizens May Soon Be Subject to New Language Requirements

May 12
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More changes with respect to citizenship and immigration laws in Canada may be coming down the pipe.  Keeping in line with other recent announcements regarding changes to the Canadian economic immigration landscape, the government is proposing changes to the citizenship rules as they relate to language ability. Under the proposed changes, prospective citizens would be required to provide objective evidence of their language ability by submitting a variety of evidence. Examples of such evidence include:

 (1)    Results of approved third party tests;

(2)    Evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French; and

(3)    Evidence of achieving the appropriate language level in certain government-funded language training programs.

The proposed change is said to encourage prospective citizens to ensure that they can speak English or French when they apply so that they have the language abilities they need to succeed in the Canadian economy.

Under the current system, the language ability of a prospective citizen is mainly assessed through a multiple choice written test, which is also supposed to assess his/her knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship. Citizenship and Immigration Canada, who have put up a notice of the proposed amendment on the Canada Gazette website (the link to the proposal is http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2012/2012-04-21/html/reg1-eng.html), has stated that this current written test is an inadequate method for assessing language as it does not assess listening and speaking skills. It also has stated that, as there is currently no specific criteria for the assessment of language proficiency and no objective evidence of language proficiency, the assessment of language ability is challenging for decision-makers.

The proposed changes would apply to all adult citizenship applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 who are required to meet the language requirement. This represents approximately 134 000 applicants per year. 

For more information on citizenship, contact PricewaterhouseCoopers Immigration Law LLP.


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