Language testing - Start-up visa

To apply for a start-up visa, you must show that you have reached Canadian Language Benchmark 5 in listening, reading, writing and speaking.

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To prove your language skills, you must take a language test given by an agency that is approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and include the results with your application.

To prove your language skills, you must take a language test given by an agency that is approved by IRCC, and include the results with your application.

You must

  • Arrange for testing by an approved agency. You will have to pay the costs.
  • Include the results of your test with your immigration application. If you do not, we will not process your application and we will send it back to you.

Do not ask for your language test result to be sent to the Centralized Intake Office. Submit your original test along with your application.

What happens next

  • You can use the charts below to know exactly what Canadian Language Benchmark level you have based on your test results.
  • We will use the test results as proof of your language proficiency.
  • You can use language test results for two years from the time you take the test.

Note: Keep a copy of your language test results for your records and future use. You may use these results in the future for another application, as long as they are not more than 2 years old when you apply. You may also use these test results to prove your language levels if you are approved to immigrate and then apply to become a citizen. There is no expiration date for third-party language test results for citizenship applicants.

Language tests we accept

We have approved certain agencies to do language testing and give results for people who apply under the start-up business visa. These tests are:


CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program

CELPIP has two tests: “CELPIP-General (CELPIP-G)” and “CELPIP-Academic (CELPIP-A).” You must take the “CELPIP-G” test.

CLB Level Test results for each ability
Speaking Listening Reading Writing
10 and above 5H 5H 5H 5H
9 5L 5L 5L 5L
8 4H 4H 4H 4H
7 4L 4L 4L 4L
6 3H 3H 3H 3H
5 3L 3L 3L 3L
4 2H 2H 2H 2H

Note: CELPIP test results for tests written before May 3, 2013 will have a score of 5 for each ability for CLB levels 9 and 10.

IELTS: International English Language Testing System

IELTS has two options for the reading and writing tests: “General Training” and “Academic.” You must take the “General Training” option.

CLB Level Test results for each ability
Listening Reading Writing Speaking
9 and above 8.0-9.0 7.0-9.0 7.0-9.0 7.0-9.0
8 7.5 6.5 6.5 6.5
7 6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0
6 5.5 5.0 5.5 5.5
5 5.0 4.0 5.0 5.0
4 4.5 3.5 4.0 4.0


TEF: Test d’évaluation de français

You must submit results from the following TEF tests as proof of your French language proficiency:

  • compréhension écrite
  • compréhension orale
  • expression écrite
  • expression orale
NCLC Level Test results for each ability
(expression orale)
(compréhension orale)
(compréhension écrite)
(expression écrite)
9 and above 372+ 298+ 248+ 372+
8 349-371 280-297 233-247 349-371
7 309 248 206 309
6 271 217 181 271
5 225 180 150 225
4 181 145 121 181

Designated language testing agencies

The agencies designated to conduct these tests are:

English (CELPIP G-Test)

  • Paragon Testing Enterprises Inc.

English (IELTS)

  • University of Cambridge, ESOL
  • IDP Australia, and
  • The British Council

French (TEF)

  • The Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) centres aren’t approved testing agencies for people who apply for a start-up visa.


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