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Canada’s Start Up Visa Language Requirement: All You Need to Know

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Date Published: November 29, 2023 | Date Updated: November 30th, 2023
By November 29, 2023 No Comments
Canada’s Start Up Visa Language Requirement: All you need to know

Canada’s Start Up Visa (SUV) is rapidly becoming one of the world’s most popular residency by investment programs.

In 2022, Canada’s SUV approved 555 applications, setting a record for single-year permanent residencies.

The SUV’s simplicity, direct path to permanent residency, and affordability make it highly attractive.

Additionally, it allows work permits while awaiting permanent residency, ensuring a faster and easier process.

But one of the primary attractions of the SUV is its simplistic requirements, which are:

  • Be over 18 years of age
  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Have an innovative business idea
  • Obtain an endorsement letter from an approved Canadian Endorsing Body
  • Meet the language requirement

The Canadian SUV boasts simpler requirements than Provincial Nominee Programs, read more about it here.

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Canada’s SUV Language Requirement

The SUV program mandates a CLB level five in either English or French for qualification. CLB stands for Canadian Language Benchmark, a standardised scoring system used by the Canadian government to assess language exam scores.

It acknowledges two English language exams: CELPIP and IELTS.It also accepts two French language proficiency exams, the Test d’évaluation de français pour le Canada (TEF) and the Test de connaissance du français pour le Canada (TCF).

Hence, the CLB system standardised these tests and provides a unified measurement of language proficiency for applicants.


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Language Tests & Conversion to CLB


CELPIP assesses general English proficiency and a person’s ability to use English in everyday situations. There are two main versions of the CELPIP test:

CELPIP-General: This test evaluates proficiency in all four language skills and is generally used for immigration purposes, such as applying for permanent resident status in Canada.

CELPIP-General LS: This version only assesses Listening and Speaking skills and is often used for Canadian citizenship applications.

For the purposes of the SUV, only CELPIP-General is approved, as SUV applicants must provide a score for all four language facets.

It is important to note, however, that the CELPIP is only available in a select number of countries, which are:

Countries Where CELPIP Is Available
Canada Brazil
Nepal Australia
USA Qatar
Bangladesh Japan
Kuwait Pakistan
Philippines Mexico
Sri Lanka South Korea
India Singapore
Nigeria UAE
Hong Kong


The CELPIP converts to CLB on a 1:1 ratio, as shown in the table below:

CLB Level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
10 10 10 10 10
9 9 9 9 9
8 8 8 8 8
7 7 7 7 7
6 6 6 6 6
5 5 5 5 5
4 4 4 4 4



The IELTS is one of the world’s most popular English language proficiency tests for higher education and global migration. It is designed to assess the language ability of people who aim to study, work, or live in a place where English is the primary language of communication.

The test measures proficiency in four key areas: Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking. It is offered in two main formats:

  1. IELTS Academic
  2. IELTS General Training

SUV accepts both versions of the IELTS test. However, since the IELTS General Training is typically easier that is the option that most applicants use, unless they already have an academic test score that is still valid.

The IELTS does not conform to a 1:1 ratio with the CLB, and each facet score provides a different CLB score. The table below highlights the conversion between IELTS General Training and CLB:

CLB Level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
10 8 7.5 8.5 7.5
9 7 7 8 7
8 6.5 6.5 7.5 6.5
7 6 6 6 6
6 5 5.5 5.5 5.5
5 4 5 5 5
4 3.5 4 4.5 4



TEF, a standardised French proficiency test, is recognised for immigration, academic, and professional use, particularly in French-speaking countries, including Canada. Furthermore, the TEF evaluates skills in Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking, with scoring based on a point-based system.

You can convert TEF scores to CLB as follows:

CLB Level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
10 263-300 393-450 316-360 393-450
9 248-262 371-392 298-315 371-392
8 233-247 349-370 280-297 349-370
7 207-232 310-348 249-279 310-348
6 181-206 271-309 217-248 271-309
5 151-180 226-270 181-216 226-270
4 121-150 181-225 145-180 181-225



The Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF) is a standardised test administered by the French Ministry of Education to evaluate French language proficiency. Therefore, people who want to study, work, or live in French-speaking environments may take this test.

The test measures Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing skills, with candidates choosing modules. However, SUV applicants must take all four.

The TCF also scores each facet on a points-based system with a maximum point score of 699 available for each facet. The conversion to CLB is as follows:

CLB Level Reading Writing Listening Speaking
10 549-699 16-20 549-699 16-20
9 524-548 14-15 523-548 14-15
8 499-523 12-13 503-522 12-13
7 453-498 10-11 458-502 10-11
6 406-452 7-9 398-457 7-9
5 375-405 6 369-397 6
4 342-374 4-5 331-368 4-5


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PTE New Version

Canada recently approved a new version of the Pearson Test of English (PTE) for its immigration purposes. The new version, dubbed PTE Core, will enter commission in late 2023 and should be readily available for Canadian immigration applicants.

The PTE Core serves as a revamped edition of the Pearson Test of English and shares many similarities with the highly popular PTE Academic version. However, what sets it apart is its emphasis on practical, vocational, and everyday language skills that align with the criteria set by Canada’s IRCC for language competence.

A Simple Program

Altogether, the Canadian SUV is a simple program, and its language requirement is very straightforward, as a CLB 5 score is lower intermediate and is easily achievable.

To learn more about Canadian SUV qualifications, book a consultation with our experts today for comprehensive guidance.

Apply Today  

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Jeremy Savory

About Jeremy Savory

Jeremy Savory, the founder and CEO of Savory and Partners, runs one of the world’s leading HNW citizenship by investment firms. The second passport company has coverage in over 20 jurisdictions including Europe.

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