Operational Bulletin 472-A (expired)

This document has expired. For current information, please refer to Certificate issuance for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada learners.

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

LINC and CLIC certificate issuance policy


The purpose of this Operational Bulletin (OB) is to inform Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) staff about an update to the policy concerning the issuance of certificates for all Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) and Cours de langue pour les immigrants au Canada (CLIC) learners.


The issuance of the National Language Placement and Progression Guidelines (NLPPG) in 2013 and the current national implementation of the Portfolio-Based Language Assessment (PBLA) and the Évaluation linguistique basée sur le portfolio (ELBP) approaches are helping to bring greater consistency to in-class language assessment and increase the reliability of the LINC and CLIC program results. The issuance of standard certificates takes on even greater importance as the Department accepts LINC and CLIC certificates as proof of language ability for citizenship purposes. IRCC staff should inform recipients of this updated guidance to ensure that the Department adopts consistent practices for issuing certificates across the program.


Since February 11, 2017, recipients of IRCC funding for delivery of the LINC and CLIC programs should have been applying and should continue to apply the following guidance when issuing LINC or CLIC certificates and when entering data in the Immigration Contribution Agreement Reporting Environment (iCARE) system or the History of Assessments, Referrals and Training system (HARTs):

  • As a general rule, LINC or CLIC certificates should be issued to learners at the end of a reporting period, with completed levels against the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) or the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) scale.
    • It should be noted that, as per the NLPPG, a CLB/NCLC level is considered “completed” when a learner has achieved and demonstrated the level of communicative ability associated with most or all (traditionally 70 to 100%) of the descriptors for the benchmarks assigned in each of the four skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  • The designation of a CLB/NCLC level should derive from an evaluation of evidence collected throughout the term to determine the learner’s progress on the CLB or the NCLC scale.
  • For recipients using the PBLA or the ELBP approach, certificates should generally be issued at the same time as progress reports.
  • In less frequent cases, certificates may be issued upon the learner’s departure from class or upon their request, as long as the teacher has gathered sufficient evidence to determine the learner’s language proficiency.
  • Neither placement assessment results nor the CLB/NCLC levels addressed in the course should be used as evidence for assigning the learner’s CLB/NCLC results (e.g., a learner cannot be assumed to have completed CLB 4 because they participated in a CLB 4 course).
  • Further details on assigning CLB/NCLC levels can be found in the resources tab, in the iCARE system, under “Language Training Definitions” and “Updates to the Language Modules in iCARE and HARTs”.

Recipient requirements

  • LINC and CLIC certificates should be issued only by recipients who deliver LINC or CLIC training that meets the following seven criteria:
    1. preceded by a CLB- or NCLC-based placement assessment or an instructor-led in-class assessment;
    2. aligned to the NLPPG;
    3. based on the CLB or NCLC framework;
    4. guided by LINC, CLIC, or provincial CLB- or NCLC-based curriculum guidelines;
    5. led by a qualified teacher (i.e., trained in Canada—or by a recognized foreign educational institution—to teach English or French as a second language);
    6. aligned with the PBLA approach (a task-based approach to language instruction and assessment integrated throughout the teaching/learning cycle);
    7. concluded with an evaluation of evidence collected throughout the term to determine the learner’s progress on the CLB/NCLC scale.
  • All certificates should be printed in black on white paper, letter size, and signed manually or electronically by the recipient’s LINC/CLIC coordinator.
  • If a client has lost his/her LINC or CLIC certificate, is requesting a new copy, and the recipient still has access to the client’s record, the recipient may reprint a certificate with the original issuance date.
  • LINC and CLIC certificates submitted with citizenship applications are authenticated by the IRCC Case Processing Centre in Sydney, through the iCARE system. Therefore, recipients must ensure that the language results of clients are updated (or uploaded from HARTs to the iCARE system for Ontario recipients) upon or shortly after certificate issuance. iCARE system users must have responded “yes” to the question “Was a certificate issued to the client?” HARTs users should note that information about certificate issuance is generated automatically by HARTs and uploaded to the iCARE system.
  • LINC and CLIC recipients located outside Ontario will continue to have access to private groups on Tutela.ca, where they can download the certificates. Only Tutela users who are language administrators for a given LINC or CLIC recipient are given access to these groups.
  • LINC and CLIC recipients located in Ontario will continue to generate certificates from HARTs.

Next steps

IRCC officers should review the provision related to the issuance of LINC and CLIC certificates in their contribution agreements and amend as appropriate to meet the above requirements.

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