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Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
31st May 2023

Canada approves expanded set of English tests for expedited visa processing

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • Canadian immigration officials have approved four new English proficiency tests for use by foreign students applying for expedited study permit processing via the Student Direct Stream (SDS)
  • The four new test options include: the CELPIP General, CAEL, PTE Academic, and TOEFL iBT
  • Students may submit scores from the expanded set of eligible tests as of 10 August 2023
  • Up until that point, IELTS remains the only approved test for SDS applicants

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced an expanded set of approved English proficiency tests for students applying for expedited study permit processing via the Student Direct Stream (SDS).

Until now, all SDS applicants were required to provide International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test results of 6.0 or higher, with IELTS the only approved exam for SDS files.

As of 10 August 2023, IRCC will accept results from four additional English proficiency tests:

The Student Direct Stream – through which IRCC aims to provide faster processing of study permit applications with a target standard of 20 calendar days or less – has expanded considerably over recent years. As of this writing, it is open to eligible students from the following countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • India
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Senegal
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Vietnam

Please consult the IRCC website for a detailed outline of eligibility and application requirements.

A related release from test provider ETS points out that the TOEFL iBT is already accepted by 100% of Canadian universities and is "also the world's most widely accepted English-language test, used by more than 12,000 institutions in more than 160 countries worldwide."

"Not only will the addition of TOEFL benefit the hundreds of thousands of students who take advantage of the SDS route each year," said Rohit Sharma, Senior Vice President of Global Higher Education and Workskills at ETS, "but institutions can feel confident knowing that they can access a wider pool of applicants who can demonstrate their skills with the premier test of English-language proficiency."

“We welcome the changes to the Student Direct Stream and look forward to supporting more students who wish to live, work, and study in Canada with our CAEL and CELPIP – General tests," added Michael Holaday, the Vice President of Business Development at test provider Prometric. "These products were developed in Canada and have already been an integral part of many people’s immigration and study plans.”

Pearson CEO Andy Bird weighed in as well: "With PTE Academic now recognised for SDS purposes, I’m delighted that Pearson can help even more test takers achieve their dream of studying [in Canada]. This recognition comes hot on the heels of PTE Core being approved for Canadian economic migration purposes earlier this year and reflects our determination to make PTE the test of choice for everybody wanting to live, work or study abroad.”

For additional background, please see:

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