IRCC Announces PTE, TOEFL and CAEL English test will be accepted for SDS Applications in August

In recent news, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced on Saturday May 27th that they are expanding the number of English Language proficiency tests they will accept as proof of a valid language test result for the Student Direct Stream (SDS) Study Permit.

This change will mean that from August 2023, International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic and General Training will no longer be the only English Language proficiency tests accepted for students looking to apply to study in Canada at the post secondary level through the SDS Study Permit

What Academic English Language Tests will be accepted by IRCC for SDS Applications?

From August 2023 the IRCC will accept the following Academic English Language test results as proof of English Proficiency:

  • IELTS Academic
  • Pearson test of English (PTE) Academic
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT)
  • Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) test

The following table shows the equivalency scores accepted from August for each test to show proof of English language proficiency to meet the SDS application requirements:

English Proficiency Test Score accepted by IRCC for SDS Application
Canadian Academic English Language Test (CAEL)60 or higher
IELTS Academic6 or higher
Pearson PTE Academic60 or higher
TOEFL iBT83 or higher

What does this mean for students wanting to study in Canada?

For students wanting to study in Canada, they will now have more choice when it comes to what test they take to prove their English Language Proficiency. This video from IELTS explains really well what the changes mean:

What is the SDS Study Permit

The Student Direct Stream (SDS) is a streamlined visa processing program offered by IRCC. It is designed to expedite the processing of study permit applications for international 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

Unlike non-SDS applications, students who meet the SDS requirements usually receive their study visa in under 30 days.

Which English Language Test is easiest for SDS Applications?

IRCC has reviewed scores of each test and indicated the minimum score needed to meet SDS requirements . When looking at other countries that accept IELTS, TOEFL and PTE test results, the PTE score requirement put forward by the IRCC is higher. This means that IELTS may be perceived as the easier test to take.

Frequently Asked Questions about the changes to SDS English Proficiency Requirements

What English Language Tests are currently accepted for SDS Applications

Currently only IELTS Academic test results showing a band score of 6.0 or higher overall are accepted by the IRCC for SDS Applications. This means you just need to achieve an average of 6 in the four areas of the test. For example you could achieve a 5.5 in Reading and Writing, but a 6.5 in Speaking and Listening and still achieve an overall band 6 score. In August 2023 IRCC will begin accepting CAEL, PTE and TOEFL test results as proof of English Language proficiency

When will PTE and TOEFL be accepted for SDS Applications?

IRCC will begin accepting PTE Academic and TOEFL iBT test scores as proof of English language proficiency for SDS Applications fromin August 2023.

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