Is IELTS Essential for Canadian Immigration?

Is IELTS Essential for Canadian Immigration?

DEC 27, 2021



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?