Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minster Jason Kenney announced on Wednesday, March 10th that the process prospective immigrants must undergo to prove their language skills when applying to Canada under the Federal Skilled Worker and Canadian Experience Classes (CEC) will be undergoing changes.
Before the announcement, applicants would be able to write a hand-in writing sample to a visa officer or supply evidence of third-party testing (IELTS test) to prove their English or French abilities. Problems arise when those whose first language was not English or French would instead opt for the written submission rather than the IELTS test, which often would slow down the process because usually additional proof of their language abilities were needed down the road.
There are no changes to the language requirements themselves, but in his announcement Minister Kenney said, “Beginning April 10, 2010, prospective immigrants will be required to prove their English and French language abilities at the time they apply.”
Immigrants are now required to prove that they have the skills they put down on their applications, and its recommended that they submit third-party testing results. Applicants are still allowed to hand in a written submission, but they will only get one chance at it. Minister Kenny also said, “This requirement supports our commitment to fast, fair and efficient application processing”.
If the written submission does not match the applicant’s reported abilities, their application my not be accepted, nor will they even know of their results until much later when the application is fully reviewed by a visa officer.
We think this is a very negative development in policy as it will exclude many otherwise qualified applicants. What if an applicant has a “bad day” during the language testing and the results do not really reflect their abilities? What if during the processing of their permanent residence application, the applicant upgrades his or her language skills which often happens? What if the applicant attempts to provide proof of language abilities when applying but later on discovers that certain documents or information was left out that would provide a more clear picture their true abilities? In all of these cases, applicants, under the new rules, would be prejudiced.
By restricting applicants to only a one-shot deal in language ability, many candidates will unjustifiably be refused. This at a time when Canada needs immigrants more than ever given our aging demographics and economic uncertainty. Further, language as a criterion for immigration cases is given far too much weight. There are countless examples of successful immigrants making their way in Canada with minimal language abilities, many of whom learn to communicate after landing in Canada. The net benefit of having such contributors to our economy and culture vastly outweighs their lack of language skills. This could have huge implications if you are planning to immigrate as a skilled worker or under the CEC, so it is best to contact a licensed immigration professional for advice.
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