Is your English level good enough to apply for PR or citizenship status in Canada? In this article we will highlight the most recent scores required for various immigration programs. Uncertain as to which level you currently are? We will also provide information about resources that can help you make an informed assessment.
Minimum CLB Scores
The minimum language scores you need to apply for permanent residency status in Canada will depend on the immigrant class under which you are applying. The chart below lists the current minimum scores required by IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) for individuals applying under the Skilled Worker/Express Entry categories.
The Canadian Language Benchmark System
Minimum language scores are based on the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLBs), which is a standardized system for assessing English language levels in Canada. It’s a good idea to assess your own English language ability before taking an IRCC approved test of English proficiency.
The CLBs are organized into three stages.
Of course, there is a big difference between a beginner at Benchmark One and a learner at Benchmark Four, the level the Canadian government has set as the threshold for attaining citizenship in Canada. While a learner at Benchmark One would only be able to comprehend and speak a few words and basic phrases in English, a learner at Benchmark Four should be able to understand and participate in simple conversations about everyday needs.
How to Assess your Language Ability
If you need some help assessing your CLB level, the following free assessment test can provide you with an approximate benchmark score of your reading and listening levels.
On the official CLB website, you can also find a few writing and speaking samples from students at intermediate to lower advanced levels to compare to your own writing and speaking examples.
If you find it difficult to assess your own writing or speaking, English Express Canada does provide level assessment services. Alternatively, you can pay to take the CLBPT (Canadian Language Benchmark Placement Test) in many communities across Canada. This standardized test is not accepted by IRCC for PR applications, but it will give you a good idea of your current benchmark levels.
Testing centres can be found at the following website.
Of course, some of you may have learned of your approximate benchmark level the hard way — you went ahead and took either the CELPIP or IELTS General test of English, only to discover that you didn't achieve the scores needed for your citizenship or PR application. While this is understandably discouraging, it’s important to know your baseline English levels so you can begin to take realistic and practical steps to improve.