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February 14, 2020
One key element of preparing an application for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to immigrate to Canada is a language test. No matter where in Canada you wish to reside, you must provide a language test score as part of your overall application score. Quebec, Canada, because of its French culture, has different language requirements than the rest of the country.
Canada is a truly bilingual nation, so immigration applications may include language test scores from an English language test, a French language test or both. To immigrate to Quebec, Canada, a French language test result is mandatory. Both IRCC and the Quebec Ministry for Immigration, Francisation and Integration (MIFI) recognize the TEF exams for immigration applications whether you wish to immigrate to Quebec or another part of the country.
The TEF exam (Test de’Evaluation de Français) was created in 1998 by the Paris ile-de-France (CCI) and has been recognized as a measure of elementary to advanced level French language skills suitable for immigration throughout all of Canada since 2002. This is an international benchmark test that focuses on oral comprehension, (listening), written comprehension (reading), oral expression (speaking) and written expression (writing).
There are multiple TEF exams, so it is important to complete the TEF registration for the right TEF exam to meet your immigration needs. Those looking to immigrate to Quebec will need to take the TEF Quebec – TEFAQ and those looking to immigrate anywhere else in Canada should take the TEF Canada. There are also TEF exams for those individuals looking to study in France, obtain French nationality or obtain a French resident card, so confirming the right TEF registration is quite important.
Both the TEF Quebec and the TEF Canada are based on Quebec or Canadian French not European or metropolitan French. This is important to note since there are some differences between the two forms of the language and those taking the TEF for the purposes of immigrating to Canada will need to know Quebec French.
Both the TEF Canada and the TEF Quebec tests follow the same format if all sections are completed. The tests are just under three hours in length (two hours and 55 minutes) with the following sections: - Oral Comprehension (listening) – 40 minutes for 60 questions - Written Comprehension (reading) – 60 minutes for 50 questions - Oral Expression (speaking) – 15 minutes for two topics to speak about - Written Expression (writing) – 60 minutes for two topics to write about
Despite these similarities in the exam process, those completing their TEF registration need to remember that the TEF Quebec and TEF Canada results are not interchangeable. The TEF Quebec exam is not recognized by IRCC and the TEF Canada is not recognized by the MIFI. Another difference between the two tests is that those taking the TEF Quebec are not required to take all of the tests, but, because of the scoring that is possible through the language exams, it is definitely advisable in order to achieve a higher score to add to your immigration application.
The other forms of the TEF also include a Vocabulary and Syntax section, but even if you need to take a TEF exam that includes this component, it will not be counted towards your final language score by either IRCC or MIFI.
All exams are given a score band style of grade. This means that your results will be put into a scale with seven different levels from 0 (very basic French language skills) to 6 (fluent French language skills). This scale then aligns with the 12 Canadian Language Benchmarks (for TEF Canada) or the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (for TEF Quebec).
The difference between these two ranking systems may play a part in your ability to immigrate to Canada or specifically to Quebec, Canada. This is because MIFI will only assign points to scores that reach a minimum of the B2 level on the Council’s framework. Any scores that correlate to lower than a B2 will not be assigned points.
The 12 Canadian Language Benchmarks is a broader scale with 12 levels. Your acceptance to immigrate to regions of Canada other than Quebec will depend upon you achieving a certain language skill level that aligns with the program or stream you are applying through.
No matter whether you wish to settle in Quebec or other regions of Canada, it is important to clarify with your immigration consultant which test you need and what results are required.
All results for either the TEF Quebec or the TEF Canada are sent to the testing centre about four to six weeks from the date of the examination unless your tests did not include the written expression portion – in this case, results will arrive in about 15 business days. The testing centre will provide you with your test results. Results from both the TEF Canada and the TEF Quebec exams are valid for a period of two years.
The short answer is, yes, you absolutely need to study for this test. Even for those who are fluent in Canadian French, as we go through our day-to-day life, we pick up a more relaxed approach to language. It is important to spend time refreshing yourself on all aspects of the test to ensure your language skills are the best they can be.