Information about English test, for new Permanent Residency program

In May, the Canadian government launched a program called the Pathway to Permanent Residence for Essential Workers. This is a very small opportunity for only 30,000 workers in a number of essential sectors to apply for PR, but only if they can meet certain requirements. 

We know that these requirements are unfair and shut out most workers like us:

  • Having to pass an English exam, with a minimum of level 4, is unfair because English is not a requirement for farm workers to come to Canada to work. 
  • While working in Canada workers do not have time to study and the ones that have learned English are self-taught and it is English for work, so an English test where you have to read, write, speak and listen is not fair or realistic.
  • The vast majority of agricultural workers live in rural communities far from any center where they can take the test. 

Migrant Workers Alliance for Change has been supporting workers interested in taking the test to apply for permanent residence with a preparation course for the exam. So far, we know of 6 workers who have passed the exam after taking this course.

Many workers are reaching out to us with questions about how to apply for PR through this new program. Below is some information about the English test.  

Without the result of the English test workers will not be able to send the application for permanent residence. 

This is a general description of the language requirements for this Permanent Residence program:

  1. Test approved by the government of Canada are:

Only GENERAL is accepted

Only can be done on computer 

Approximate price $ 280 CAD

Only GENERAL is accepted

Available in two formats: On paper, due to COVID it was difficult to find a center to take the exam on paper, but for July and August there are more places and dates available. 

Paper exam $ 287.60 + tax 

Computer exam $ 300 + tax

Note: Prices change depending on the province and city where you are.


  1. Migrant workers, who take the IELTS test, have the option of paper-based, oral section is done in person.
  2. Both exams are scored with a score of 1-9, for people who apply for permanent residence it is ONLY required that they obtain a minimum of 4 average points.

CELPIP required score by section:

IELTS required score by section:

  1. A score of 4 is less than 50% of the maximum grade which is 9 and is considered one level less than the intermediate level.
  2. Registering for the exam is somewhat complicated as at this time you can only book online.

Migrant workers who are in rural areas face the challenge that there are not always exam centers nearby. In addition to having to pay with a credit card, there is the option of buying a prepaid visa or mastercard, or if workers have a debit visa can be used.

We have consulted with English teachers who are dedicated to preparing students to take these exams and their conclusion is that the level that the government is asking for is something that even non-English speaking workers can achieve. 

Teacher tips: 

  • Learn the mechanisms of the exam
  • Learn the correct way to write an email: greeting, farewell, formally and informally. 
  • For the other sections the answers are in the questions or the text.
  • Both tests are NOT designed to measure your knowledge but your abilities.
  • For workers who speak Spanish it is advisable to take the IELTS test since they can present it written by hand, the reading section is not very difficult since most of the vocabulary has Latin roots. In addition, the oral section is a face-to-face conversation.
  • There are several videos on youtube where you can practice and learn the listening section. 

This program was created thanks to workers who have raised their voices. We must continue fighting for a permanent residence status for all, without leaving anyone behind, united we are stronger!

Study Materials:

  • Videos on Differences Between CELPIP and IELTS 
  • Practice Tests:
  • Videos to practice: