Proving English Language Ability - International English Language Testing System - IELTS

Last updated: 18 September 2020

Under the Federal Skilled Worker Class, Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and some Provincial Nominee Programs, Canadian Immigration Visa Officers require that applicants prove their language proficiency in either English or French.

To prove language proficiency, each applicant must take an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam, a Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) exam, Test d'Evaluation Français (TEF) exam, orTest de connaissance du français pour le Canada (TCF Canada). Results from one of these exams help Visa Officers determine whether the applicant has sufficient English or French language ability for proper integration into Canadian society and the Canadian workforce. To demonstrate English language ability, IELTS or CELPIP results must be submitted so that the Visa Officer will be able to objectively evaluate the language category of the applicant. IELTS or CELPIP results are considered the only conclusive proof of English language proficiency.

To gain points for language proficiency under the Quebec Skilled Worker Program, test results must be submitted for French and/or English. For more information on recognized French tests, see this page.

To enroll for an IELTS examination, you will need to contact your local IELTS test centre to find out the dates when you will be able to take your test and what the cost will be. Download and complete the application form and send it the local IELTS centre along with your photos, a copy of your identification and your payment.

Many people take preparation courses before they take the IELTS to ensure that they receive as high a score as possible. You can also take free IELTS practice tests to get an idea of what the tests are like.


About the IELTS

The IELTS consists of four parts: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. The whole test lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes and can be completed in one day. The speaking component can also be taken up to seven days before or after the other three components (at the discretion of the test centre).


The listening component lasts for 30 minutes and consists of four audio clips that you must listen to and answer questions about.

  • Conversation: Two speakers
  • Monologue
  • Conversation: Four speakers
  • Lecture

You can read the questions and familiarize yourself with the question types before you listen to the recordings. Listen carefully, as the recordings are played only once.


The reading component lasts for 60 minutes and consists of three passages you will read and answer questions about. The texts are typically taken from books, newspapers, magazines, and journals. You will be asked to:

  • Identify attitudes and perceptions
  • Find detailed information
  • Complete a diagram


The Writing component lasts for 60 minutes and consists of two tasks. Be sure to read the question carefully before composing your text.You will need to:

  • Write a descriptive report of a table or diagram (150 words)
  • Write an essay in response to a statement (250 words).


The Speaking component lasts for 10–15 minutes. It is a face-to-face interview between the candidate and the examiner. It consists of:

  • Introduction and interview
  • Individual talk
  • Discussion topics

Try to speak fluently, using appropriate grammar, and demonstrate a range of vocabulary. Always try to support your opinions and answer the questions with more than "yes" or "no".


You will be given a score for each component (Listening, Reading, Writing, Speaking) on a Band Scale from 1–9. In order to be awarded the maximum 16 points for English language ability under the Federal Skilled Worker eligibility assessment, you will need to score a 7.5 or higher in the listening component and a 6.5 or higher in the other three components.

Band 1: Non user

Band 2: Intermittent user

Band 3: Extremely limited user

Band 4: Limited user

Band 5: Modest user

Band 6: Competent user

Band 7: Good user

Band 8: Very good user

Band 9: Expert user


IELTS Frequently Asked Questions

All applicants for the Federal Skilled Worker and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) must submit either IELTS, CELPIP or TEF results as conclusive proof of language ability for Citizenship and Immigration Canada. For French requirements for Quebec, see this page.

There are preparation courses available through educational institutions and on the internet. We offer free IELTS practice tests to help you practice English and familiarize yourself with the IELTS exam.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently updated its processing instructions to visa offices, and is now only accepting test results from the General Training module.

On the official IELTS website, you can search for your nearest IELTS test centre on the top navigation bar.

The cost varies but is typically around CAD $250.

The whole test takes 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

Listening: 30 minutes

Reading: 60 minutes

Writing: 60 minutes

Speaking: 10–15 minutes

Results are generally issued 13 days after the test.

Candidates are able to repeat the test whenever they wish. You will need to submit another application form; on that form you must indicate the date on which you last took the test. New fees will apply.

No. The IELTS is meant to provide an overall profile of a candidate's English proficiency at a given time. For the results to be accurate, all modules must be taken at the same time.

IELTS results are valid for a period of two years. IELTS results issued within 24 months from the date of submission of an application should remain valid throughout the application process.

IELTS test results correspond to CLB scores as follows:

CLB Level 9 - IELTS Listening: 8.0 Reading: 7.0 Writing: 7.0 Speaking: 7.0

CLB Level 8 - IELTS Listening: 7.5 Reading: 6.5 Writing: 6.5 Speaking: 6.5

CLB Level 7 - IELTS Listening: 6.0 Reading: 6.0 Writing: 6.0 Speaking: 6.0

CLB Level 6 - IELTS Listening: 5.5 Reading: 5.0 Writing: 5.5 Speaking: 5.5

CLB Level 5 - IELTS Listening: 5.0 Reading: 4.0 Writing: 5.0 Speaking: 5.0

CLB Level 4 -IELTS Listening: 4.5 Reading: 3.5 Writing: 4.0 Speaking: 4.0