Is IELTS Essential for Canadian Immigration?

October 26, 2023


  • Sinethemba Phongolo

Fluency in English communication is one of the most important requirements to gain permanent residency in Canada. As the most widely spoken language in Canada, being able to speak English in Canada is emphasized by the need for prospective immigrants to take English language tests to demonstrate their ability to communicate in English.

Unsure if taking an IELTS is needed for immigration to Canada? Find out if IELTS test results are essential to your Canadian immigration!

Is IELTS Essential for Immigration to Canada?

Yes, taking the IELTS test is essential for immigration to Canada. The CELPIP is also accepted but the IELTS is more internationally recognized and accessible. Therefore it's generally a better decision to submit your IELTS test results as proof of your English language proficiency for immigration to Canada.

Please Note

Choosing to take the IELTS test for Canadian immigration may also depend on your career, country of origin and access to IELTS or CELPIP testing centers.

What is the IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a globally recognized English language proficiency test. It is designed to assess the language skills of individuals who wish to study, work, or immigrate to English-speaking countries.

The IELTS test measures four key language skills:

  • Listening,
  • Reading,
  • Writing, and
  • Speaking.

It is widely accepted proof of English language proficiency by Canadian immigration authorities, educational institutions, employers, professional and trade associations, and other English-speaking countries such as the United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Why Take IELTS?

Taking the IELTS test is essential for individuals planning to study, work and immigrate to Canada. The Canadian government requires applicants to demonstrate their English language proficiency in the immigration process. Achieving a high score on the IELTS test can significantly enhance an individual's chances of successfully obtaining a Canadian visa or permanent residency.

A high IELTS score demonstrates that an individual has the necessary language skills to communicate effectively in English in academic and professional settings. It indicates one's ability to adapt to Canadian society and contribute to the country's economy.

How Does the IELTS Work?

The IELTS test consists of four sections: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. Each section assesses a specific language skill. The IELTS works as follows:

IELTS Test Section Length (Minutes) Structure of Tasks Skills Tested
Listening 30  Candidates listen and answer ten questions based on four recordings Summarization, matching categories, completing sentences, labeling according to spoken instructions, answering multiple-choice questions
Reading  60 Candidates answer questions after reading a short and mid-length text Matching headings, completing sentences, labeling, identifying views or claims in a text
Writing  60 Canditates write a discursive essay and personal response to a text. Effective text responses, correct grammar use, vast vocabulary use, completing English writing tasks
Speaking 11-14 Answer personal interview questions, speak about a provided topic and discuss a specific topic. Coherence and fluency, vocabulary, grammatical skills, pronouncing English words, 

Learn more about how to meet IELTS requirements for a Canada Student Visa.

How Can I Prepare to Take the IELTS Test?

Preparing for the IELTS test is crucial to achieving a high score. There are several ways individuals can prepare for the test.

IELTS Preparation Courses

Taking an IELTS preparation course is highly recommended for anyone planning to take the test. These courses provide comprehensive instruction on the test format, strategies for each section, and practice materials. They also offer valuable feedback and guidance from experienced instructors.

IELTS preparation courses are available online and in person. Online courses provide flexibility and convenience, allowing individuals to study independently. In-person courses offer the advantage of face-to-face interaction with instructors and fellow test-takers. You can access IELTS preparation courses via leading English language testing organizations such as the:

You may also use our IELTS course developed by Conley University. A major component of IELTS tests includes taking practice tests.

Practice Tests

Taking an IELTS practice test is essential for:

  • Getting familiar with the IELTS test format,
  • Testing yourself and becoming used to real test time conditions,
  • Experiencing tasks similar to the IELTS test tasks, and
  • Comparing and reviewing your answers by contrasting them to IELTS model answers.

Practice tests simulate the actual test conditions and allow you to gauge your performance.


Self-study is another option for preparing for the IELTS test. Numerous books and websites provide practice materials and sample tests. We recommended using a combination of self-study materials and practice tests to simulate the actual test conditions and measure your progress.

Engage in English self-study by:

  • Consume English media (TV, films, books, etc.),
  • Communicate with English-speaking friends or family,
  • Write down your thoughts in English, and
  • Join online language exchange websites.

What Other English Language Tests Can I Take for Canadian Immigration?

While IELTS is the most commonly accepted English language proficiency test to work, study, and immigrate to Canada, other options are available.

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) is an English language proficiency test developed specifically for Canadian immigration and citizenship. The CELPIP test is computer-based and measures your ability to communicate effectively in English in real-life situations. CELPIP is available in two versions: CELPIP-General and CELPIP-General LS.


The CELPIP-General evaluates your English listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. It is designated for Canada PR applications by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).


The CELPIP - General LS assesses your English listening and speaking skills. It is designated for citizenship applications by the IRCC.

Which Canadian Immigration Programs or Permits Accept IELTS Results?

Here are some of the key programs and permits that accept IELTS scores:

Express Entry System

The Express Entry system is the main pathway for skilled workers to immigrate to Canada. It manages the applications for three federal economic immigration programs, which are as follows:

IELTS results are mandatory for the Express Entry system. Applicants must meet the minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 7.

Learn more about which Express Entry program is best for you.

Provincial Nominee Program

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allows Canadian provinces and territories to nominate you for permanent residency (PR) by a Canadian province or territory based on your skills and potential to contribute to their provincial or territorial economy. IELTS results are generally required for each PNP.

Find out more about the provincial nominee pathways to Canadian PR.

Start-up Visa

The Start-up Visa program is designed to attract innovative entrepreneurs and businesspeople who can contribute to the Canadian economy. English is the main language for conducting business affairs in Canada. Therefore, IELTS results are required to demonstrate your English language proficiency for the Start-up Visa program.

Learn more about how to immigrate to Canada as an Entrepreneur with a Start-up Visa.

Pilot Programs

Pilot programs help to attract and retain eligible newcomers to the lesser-known communities in Canada that need skilled and unskilled workers to fill labor market gaps and boost the local economy. Various pilot programs accept IELTS results as part of the application process. This includes the:

Work Permits

A work permit is required for most foreign workers to work in Canada. Many Canadian employers may require proof of English language proficiency to ensure employees can communicate effectively in the workplace. Therefore, it becomes essential for you to obtain an IELTS test.

Find out more about how to get a Canadian work permit.

Study Permits

To become an international student in Canada’s designated learning institutions (DLI), you must apply for a study permit. As Canada’s main medium of instruction, taking an IELTS test is essential to prove your English language proficiency and to ensure your success in your academic studies.

Learn how to apply for a Canada study permit.


Is IELTS Easier to Access Than Other Language Proficiency Tests?

IELTS is widely accessible and recognized globally. The IELTS has over 800 test centers and locations in over 130 countries, including Canada. The availability of test centers and the frequency of test dates make IELTS a convenient option for you if you plan to immigrate to Canada. In comparison, CELPIP only has 70 and the Pearson Test of English (PTE) only has 400 test centers.

Can I Take the IELTS Academic Test for my Express Entry Application?

No. The Express Entry system only accepts IELTS General test results as proof of English language proficiency needed to immigrate to Canada.