Minister Kenney Announces New Language Rules for Citizenship Applicants

OTTAWA — Most citizenship
applicants will soon be required to provide up-front objective
evidence of their language ability at the time they apply,
Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney
announced today.

This change will be implemented as of November 1, 2012. Currently,
Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) assesses the language
ability of applicants, aged 18-54, solely through interactions with
CIC staff and by using the results of the citizenship knowledge test.

“Extensive research has consistently shown that the ability to
communicate effectively in either French or English is a key factor
in the success of new citizens in Canada,” said Minister Kenney. “We
believe it is important that new citizens to be able to participate
fully in our economy and our society.”

The Citizenship Act already requires that applicants be able to
communicate in one of Canada’s official languages. This regulatory
change will not increase the language level required but will change
the way that citizenship applicants aged 18-54 demonstrate their
language ability.

Under the old rules, there was no objective way to test language
abilities of applicants. Under the new rule, applicants must provide
objective evidence that they meet the language requirement, achieving
the Canadian Language Benchmark/Niveau de competence linguistique
canadien 4 in speaking and listening, when they file their
application. Applicants will be required to submit acceptable
evidence, such as:

— the results of a CIC-approved third-party test; or
— the evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in
English or French; or
— the evidence of achieving the appropriate language level in certain
government-funded language training programs.

While CIC will continue to use the applicant’s interaction with CIC
staff and with citizenship judges as part of the language ability
assessment, the new regulations mean that applicants must first
provide objective evidence that they meet that requirement when they
file their application. CIC will return the applications of those who
do not provide evidence of language ability up front, enabling CIC to
focus resources on processing those who do meet the requirements.

The requirement for adult applicants to provide objective evidence of
their language ability with their citizenship submission applies to
every application received as of November 1, 2012.