While the level of proficiency in either the English or French language will not change, beginning in November, applicants for Canadian citizenship will have to provide objective evidence of their language abilities.
The announcement was made this morning by Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. Currently, the Citizenship Act requires applicants who are between the ages of 18 and 54 to have sufficient ability to speak and understand either the English or French language.
Currently, applicants are tested on their language abilities on an informal basis. Decisions are made after applicants speak with officials of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and after the results of the applicant's citizenship test are reviewed. Beginning in November, applicants who want to become Canadian citizens will have to provide objective proof of their abilities in one of Canada's official languages.
The objective proof can be provided in one of three ways. CIC will accept the results of language tests administered by third parties, provided the testers are approved by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Another way the language requirement can be satisfied is if the applicant provides proof of successful completion of secondary or post secondary education that was obtained in either the English or French language. Potential candidates can also provide proof of their language proficiency by successfully completing a government-funded language training program.
In making the announcement, the Minister said, "Extensive research has consistently shown that the ability to communicate effectively in either French or English is a key factor in the success of new citizens in Canada. We believe it is important that new citizens be able to participate fully in our economy and our society."
The Globe and Mail reports an analysis done a few months ago shows citizenship applications will decrease while those who qualify for Canadian citizenship will delay applying until after they take language training. The study also projects the new rules will cost applicants $70 million while the government will incur additional expenditures of $40 million. The added cost to the government will be necessary to provide more government-funded language training facilities.
Nonetheless, the analysis concludes the additional costs will be outweighed by the benefits to both Canada and individual applicants for Canadian citizenship.
The new rules will apply to all citizenship applications received by CIC on or after November 1, 2012.