Is IELTS Essential for Canadian Immigration?

Is IELTS Essential for Canadian Immigration?

March 8, 2022


  • Kayla Peters

When people start thinking about immigrating to Canada they tend to do their research on how to move to Canada. And more often than not, they learn about different requirements that need to be met for each Canadian immigration program.

A requirement that comes up often is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and with that, the question arises, Is IELTS essential for Canadian immigration?. Let’s take a deeper look into IELTS and its importance when thinking of moving to Canada.

The Importance of IELTS in Canadian Immigration


Foreign nationals who are planning to move to Canada permanently are required to take an IELTS test as this is mandatory for all economic immigration applications such as those applying through Express Entry. Each Canadian immigration program will have a different level of English language proficiency that an applicant will need to meet.

What is an IELTS test?

IELTS is an approved English language proficiency test that foreign nationals need to take in order to show their English proficiency and complete the visa application process. Having a good IELTS score is very important to the Canadian government, as this will show how well you communicate.

Did you know there are two types of IELTS tests?

  • IELTS Academic Test - this test is for foreign nationals who would like to study at either undergraduate or post-graduate institutions.
  • IELTS General Training Test - this test is for foreign nationals who would like to work in an English-speaking country or immigrate.

In this case, to immigrate, the applicant will need to take the IELTS general training test.

How are IELTS results determined?

The applicants are tested on their English proficiency on a scale from 1–9 in four skills: Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. The test will be done at an official British Council IELTS test centre and the duration of the test is 2 hours and 45 minutes long.

IELTS uses a 9-band scoring system to measure and report test scores. Applicants will receive individual band scores for listening, reading, writing and speaking and an Overall Band Score on a band scale from one to nine.

Once the applicant has received their score it will need to be converted to the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) as this is what is used on their visa application. The CLB describes 12 levels of language ability in each of the four skills mentioned above. The CLB has three stages, they are:

  • Stage 1 covers basic language ability (benchmarks 1 to 4);
  • Stage 2 covers intermediate language ability (benchmarks 5 to 8); and
  • Stage 3 covers advanced language ability (benchmarks 9 to 12).

Applicants must use their IELTS score to determine their CLB level by using the following table:

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Language Test Equivalencies
CLB Level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
10 and above 8 7.5 8.5 7.5
9 7 7 8 7
8 6.5 6.5 7.5 6.5
7 6 6 6 6
6 5 5.5 5.5 5.5
5 4 5 5 5
4 3.5 4 4.5 4

Where can I take the IELTS test?


This will depend on the applicant’s country of origin. There are over 1,200 official IELTS test centres across the world. Applicants can take the test either online or at a test centre. If the applicant chooses to take the online test it is good to know that the content and format are the same as the test taken in the centre.

This means the preparation can stay the same as well.

How to prepare for the IELTS test?

There are several ways to prepare for the IELTS exam, including:

  • taking the time to learn the format of the IELTS test;
  • practice a wide range of reading materials so that they are prepared for all parts of the test;
  • Expose themselves to as much English as possible such as listening to English music and watching English movies; and
  • Speaking in English to native English speakers.

MDC also has an online preparation course that includes explaining the exam, video lectures, practice exercises and strategies. Everything the applicant may need to increase their results. Applicants will even be able to ask the instructors exam-related questions and all they may need to prepare themselves for the exam.

How many times can I take the IELTS test?

Foreign nationals can take the IELTS test as many times as they wish. Applicants may also decide which test result they prefer and use that for their visa application form. However, we do recommend that applicants study before taking the next test in order to avoid disappointment.

Good to know!

Each IELTS test result is valid for two years, so applicants can use any test result as long as it is still valid.

How much does IELTS cost in Canada?

The IELTS exam in Canada costs around $300. The price is the same for the paper and computer-based versions of the test. Applicants can pay online with a debit or credit card. An email link will be sent to the applicants once they complete the registration successfully.

When will I receive my IELTS test results?

Applicants can receive their results within 13 calendar days starting the day after the test. The applicant’s results can be seen for 28 days after it has been released. However, a paper-based Test Result Form (TRF) is mailed or express couriered within 13 calendar days.

Canada’s Top Immigration Programs


Express Entry

Express Entry, a Canadian immigration system that is set to welcome 110,500 immigrants as permanent residents in 2022. The Express Entry system is an online system that manages three federal immigration programs, Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and the Canadian Experience Class program.

Express Entry is highly favoured among foreign nationals as they do not require a job offer in order to apply. By not having this requirement, it makes the immigration process somewhat easier and more achievable.

Quick facts on Canada’s Express Entry system

  • The entire process is online so that means applicants from all over the world can apply easily;
  • Express Entry does not have a deadline, applicants are free to apply whenever they are ready;
  • The Immigration, Refugee and Canadian Citizenship (IRCC) determines which one of the three programs applicants qualify for according to their online profile;
  • Profiles are ranked in the Express Entry pool by their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, also if they are not successful with the first draw their profile stays in the pool for one year;
  • Applicants have several ways to increase their CRS score while in the Express Entry pool; and
  • Express Entry can be as short as 6 months, this is one of the fastest for Canadian immigration.

Good to know!

An applicant’s language skills can earn them up to 20 points which is why IELTS is essential for Canadian immigration.

Provincial Nominee Program

Responsible for welcoming between 64,000 to 81,500 immigrants, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is designed to bring new and in-demand skills to the provinces of Canada. This is done via an agreement between the local provinces and the government. The agreement states that provinces can nominate immigrants who want to live and work in that particular province which eventually leads to immigrating to Canada.

How does the PNP work?

Applicants can either apply for a nomination through Express Entry or directly to the province:

Direct Application

  • Apply to the province or territory for nomination under a non-Express Entry stream;
  • Meet the eligibility requirements of the province that nominated them;
  • Once nominated, submit a paper application for permanent residence to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; and
  • Applicants are required to pass a medical exam and get a police check (certificate). Everyone must have these checks, no matter where they plan to live in Canada.

Express Entry Process

The Express Entry process gives the applicant two options. They are

  1. Contact the province or territory and apply for a nomination under an Express Entry stream; and
  2. Create an Express Entry profile that shows the provinces or territories the applicant is interested in.

Please note that going via the Express Entry is the faster option.

From this article, we can see that yes indeed, IELTS is essential for Canadian immigration. Discover which Canadian visa you qualify for.