Thousands of immigrants come to Canada every year. They have to take language test compulsorily. But the score they achieve in the test expires in the next two years. One of the many objections raised by critics of the test is the issue of duration. Khabar Shlok Talati – CBC News.
The Canadian government took in 431,645 permanent residents last year – a record high. Most of them were required to be proficient in English or French.
Applicants can appear in only two recognized language tests. One is the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index (CELPIP) organized by the Canadian Immigration Service (IRCC), the other is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Both tests cost more than $250 and the results are only valid for two years. There is also a French language test. It also has the same duration, the cost is almost the same.
Language test results are often required when immigrants are admitted to university or apply for a work permit.
Among the problems potential residents and advocates cite with the test is the cost of the test, which often has to be paid multiple times, and the length of time it takes. Some consider this to be an inadequate way of assessing someone’s candidacy to live in Canada.
Language ability ‘in question’
Miss, now a resident of Alberta. Ukwori Ejibe came to Canada from Nigeria in 2020. He did his undergraduate degree in the United States. He holds Masters degrees in two subjects – one from Paris and the other from Singapore.
But Tisi attempted the IELTS twice in Nigeria before coming to Canada. English is the official language in Nigeria.
Passing the language test adds points required for immigration. Applicants also earn points based on their educational qualifications and work experience. The more points a candidate has, the more likely he is to become a permanent resident.
2016 score in EGB was not enough to get permanent residency. After the second attempt he was invited to immigrate.
He said he was “very upset” when he was asked to take the language test for the third time while applying to university in B.C.
“Coming to Canada is definitely a very expensive process. And that’s because IELTS is not like any other process that is expected to be done once.”
Ejibe did not prepare as well as before when he took the language test for the third time. Still he scored very well.
“The feeling was that my English skills were being questioned after overcoming all the hurdles. This is done with someone who was educated in the United States and studied English in Nigeria.”
Concerns about tenure
Saeed Hussain is the executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, a rights group. He says most of the people he works with find it difficult to pass the test on the first try. Even those whose first and only language is English.
“It’s a huge money-making machine,” he said. He mentioned that the score obtained in this test is valid for two years after which they have to retake the test, apparently this test is a money grab.
“It’s clear that this is just a way to take money out of people’s pockets and not to assess people’s ability to work or live in Canada,” he said.
The application fee for permanent residency is $1,365. Ejibe said he had to spend about $1,000 just to take the test. And this is just an addition to an expensive process.
But those who apply for citizenship do not have to take the test again if they pass the language test once. They can apply even if the language test result is out of date.
Ejibe wondered what logic was working behind this.
“If it is possible in the case of citizenship, it should be considered in the case of immigration as well,” he said.
Elena Ashford, an Ontario immigration lawyer, said these English language test scores play an important role in a person’s eligibility to come to Canada. He thinks that it is a matter to be discussed in terms of the money to be spent on the test.
He said, “Many people have to sit the test a second time, which is a huge expense. I don’t understand why it will expire in two years.”
Retention of skills ‘critical’: IRCC
As recommended by the British Council, the UK-based organization that organizes the IELTS test, the test results are valid for two years. IRCC says it has been following that recommendation in its policy since third-party language proficiency testing first began.
IRCC said in an e-mail message that the two-year period is based on factors such as how often they actually use the language they are expected to be proficient in, how many recent days they have received instruction in that language, or whether they are proficient in the language. Can you hold on?
“It is important to ensure that their language skills do not deteriorate over time before they arrive here,” the e-mail said.
IRCC said in their e-mail that language skills are strongly related to a person’s positive economic productivity and have been shown to have a direct impact on finding suitable employment and earning a sufficient income.
But many say the language test is not a reliable indicator of how well a person will do after coming to Canada.
Saeed Hussan said, when the opportunity to grant permanent residency to temporary residents was created in 2021, the language test sites received so many applications that the websites crashed.
He said the language test as an indicator of a person’s ability to self-develop in a new country is baseless. He felt that it would be better to completely update this evaluation system. “If you have been working in Canada in the meantime, that should be enough proof, if you have been studying here, that should be enough proof.”