Canada TOEFL Requirements for international students and immigration - CanImmNewsletter.com - Canada Immigration Newsletter
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canada toefl requirements

Canada TOEFL Requirements for international students and immigration


The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is for certain immigration programs, student visa applications and for admission by Canadian designated learning institution (DLI). DLIs are colleges, universities, and other educational institutes that the government of Canada authorizes to welcome international students.

Canada TOEFL requirements ensure candidates’ proficiency in English, one of Canada’s official languages in addition to French.

Canada has two official languages: English and French. English is the most common language in most provinces and territories. French is the main language in Quebec and in some areas of Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba. There are also francophone communities in all provinces and territories across Canada. Quebec has a large minority of residents who speak English.

The importance of language skills

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.


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English or French language skills open the door to your education and immigration plan. They are very important to help you settle in Canada.

You may choose to focus on learning or improving one or the other. This will likely depend on which of the two languages most people speak in the area where you live. Canada TOEFL requirements are primarily for people desiring to locate in English-based provinces.

Strong English or French skills will help with:

  • getting a job
  • going to school
  • accessing services
  • helping your children with school work
  • meeting and talking to people
  • getting your Canadian citizenship

Take steps to improve your French or English while you are still in your home country and as soon as you arrive in Canada.


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If you already speak an official language, think about learning the other. In Canada, proficiency in both is an advantage for finding a job and taking part in your community.

The Language Portal of Canada has a variety of tools and resources to improve your language skills.

Canada TOEFL requirements – International Students

TOEFL is the most popular English language proficiency test for foreign students admission. More than 80% of graduate programs in Canada prefer the TOEFL test over other English-language tests.  TOEFL is accepted by all of Canadian universities and several colleges. TOEFL results are available within 6 days.

The TOEFL iBT (“Internet-based Test”) is usually available in over 150 countries. However, the pandemic limits location and availability of the test. New test dates will become more available in locations around the world. ETS is temporarily offering the TOEFL Special Home Edition iBT in countries where it runs tests except mainland China and Iran. Results are available after 6-10 days.


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Alternatives to TOEFL for International Students

There are other options available to international students. Some individual institutions offer their own tests, such as the University of Toronto, and McGill University. The Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) test by Paragon Testing Enterprises has over 180 universities and colleges across Canada. This includes all English-speaking universities and 82 per cent of English-speaking colleges.

C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency exams by Cambridge Assessment English is another very popular test. Over 200 schools use it.


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The Duolingo English Test is also another alternative. Almost 140 Canadian post-secondary institutions accept it. Duolingo test takes about 1 hour and results available in 2 days. The test is online.

Three partners operate the IELTS Academic test: IDP Education, the British Council, and Cambridge Assessment English. Up to 400 Canadian universities and colleges accept the test. It is currently available in over 30 countries, but is usually in more than 140 countries. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, they temporarily added IELTS Indicator to help students complete their test online. IELTS Indicator is available online from the candidate’s home.


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Canada TOEFL requirements – General immigration

The preferred English language tests for general immigration purposes (e.g. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) ) are the IELTS and CELPIP.

TOEFL tests may, however, help you to strengthen your language proficiency and score highly in these other tests. For example, international students obtained the required TOEFL score for student visa and school admission. They then go on to obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit and then apply for Canadian permanent resident status. But they need to take another language test for their PR application. The two English tests accepted by IRCC are the IELTS General and the CELPIP. However, their initial TOEFL tests provide some advantage. It gives them even stronger proficiency when they have to take the IELTS or CELPIP.

Language skills for work

The English or French language skills you used to immigrate may not be strong enough for you to work in your field.

Most regulated jobs and trades require you to:


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  • be fluent in English or French
  • have a strong knowledge of all work-related language, and also
  • understand phrases or expressions used, some of which may be unique to Canada

Find out about the language requirements you must meet to work in your field. Also contact your regulatory body to learn about the type of language test to evaluate or assess you.

As well, consider taking language classes or looking for bridging programs that offer both language training and work experience.

Language classes

You can take language classes to learn English or French once in Canada. Federal, provincial and territorial governments across Canada fund language classes. However, you’ll need to pay for private language classes.

To find information about other language training programs funded by the provinces or territories:

Testing your current language skills before you register

Before you start a class, you should test for your current language skills. Visit a language assessment centre in your city and tell them you want to take language classes.

You can do a self-assessment test to find out your current language level before doing a formal language test. See also Language Training for Canada.

English language tests and certificates other than TOEFL

French language tests and certificates:


You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.