A Letter From One of Our Users: he shares his experience trying to become a permanent resident. IRCC wants him to provide French language test results, but he is a French teacher…in Canada.
IRCC Forces French Teacher to Take Test d’Evaluation Francaise for $460
A Letter From One of Our Users
“Bureaucracy.” Here is a word that would give you a headache just by reading it.
Before going into more details about what happened with my permanent residence incident, I would like to give you some background information about myself, just so that you can understand all my frustration and anger towards a system that has just been implemented in 2014/2015. My name is Yunus and I come from Mauritius Island, or the paradise island if you prefer, located in the Indian Ocean. Our country is trilingual: we have our native language which is Creole, plus French and English. Our education system is very straightforward: 2 years of kindergarten, 6 years of primary school and 7 years of what we call “college,” before going to university. French and English are compulsory from kindergarten to the fifth year of college. For the last two years, you can drop French, but English still remains compulsory under the name of “General Paper” (GP) till the end of your college years. The fifth and seventh year have final exams which are called the School Certificate (SC) and the Higher School Certificate (HSC) respectively, both of which are administered and graded by Cambridge University in England. I graduated from the HSC with an “A” in French as a major and an “A” in GP.
I came to Canada six and a half years ago with high hopes to study and stay in a great country with some amazing people. I majored in French and graduated from Carleton University in November 2014 with an average grade of “A” in my major. As many of you are aware, IRCC (formerly CIC) can issue a post graduate work permit (valid for up to three years) when you graduate with a degree from a university (you obviously need to apply for it if you are interested). You are then required to have at least one year of full-time employment to have working experience so that you can qualify to apply for your permanent residence (through the Canada Experience Class). Since I got married last April, I was quite happy to know that I would finally be able to bring my wife here. She used to live in London and the back and forth was getting very expensive and was emotionally draining for both of us.
Here is where all of this got a little complicated. On the 28th of December 2015, I mailed my documents to IRCC (formerly Citizenship and Immigration Canada) regarding an application for a permanent residence card. After more than two months, all my documents were returned to me. They had received everything on the sixth of January 2016 (my documents were stamped with that date) and sent me back my documents on the ninth of March, which I received on the seventeenth of March, asking me for a form called the IMM1000. After hours of searching and reading, I found out that the IMM1000 was not issued any more after 2002. This was highlighted as a document that they needed as a secondary piece of ID. I found it strange since I had included my tax returns for last year, which could also be used as a secondary piece of ID. CIC did not even bother to check if I already had PR or not, even though all documents stating that I was a student and that I have a post graduate work permit were attached. Little did I know that I had applied for a PR card and not for permanent residence itself. After getting help from Immigroup, I finally found out what was wrong. IRCC’s help line was not only rude, but they were also really useless. Not only is the website badly organized, but when I asked them to send me a link so that I don’t make the same mistake again, they sent me the link to apply for a PR CARD again! The questions here are why did it take over two months to send me back something which was incomplete and why didn’t they bother to read and see that I did not have a PR in the first place?
The story does not end there. That is the infuriating part! IRCC is asking that I take either a French exam which would cost me $460 or an English exam which would cost me $299. Why the difference in price? Why is it that I have to take a French exam when I graduated with a BA Honours French from a recognised university in Canada? The test is plainly highway robbery! Not only am I fully bilingual, I have also studied French since kindergarten and the best part of it is that I am a French teacher who has been working in a language school for a year and seven months now, teaching government employees the language (oral, written and comprehension at all levels)! On top of this $460 for the exam, I will also be required to pay $475 for the PR fee.
In light of the above, I do not think it is fair that I am losing so much time and money away from my wife and family just because of some paperwork that actually takes forever and makes no sense at all! I am not writing this with the hope of getting a refund; let’s face it, I probably have a better chance of winning the Lotto! I am however writing this with the hope that it reaches an audience that will be able to do something about this for future immigrants.
I submitted my application yesterday for express entry.
I took the language test and got my certificate last week. I came out with an average of a CEFR level C1, which is right below the perfect level of C2. I took the exam in English and not in French, mainly for 2 reasons:
- The first being that it was inexplicably cheaper than the French one ($300 v/s $460).
- The second being that since I already teach French and have a degree in French from a Canadian university, I thought I’d just prove my point of being fully bilingual and that my Cambridge certificated from High School are worth something.
After my meeting with the MP’s assistant, I already knew what the outcome would be and after a week she called me, telling me what I was expecting, that there would be no exemption for me. As I told her, I wasn’t expecting any refund or any exemption, but rather a change in this law, which is basically a robbery to some of us (like me!), but she told me to write to the ministry of immigration. It’s been over a month and no one never replied to me.
Like I also mentioned to her, this law should be changed. What they could do is create a few jobs more, maybe with 4 evaluators and 6 persons at the administration level, who would take in and interview people who would be asking for an exemption in that language test. You don’t have to be a genius to know if a person is understanding and can speak the language after a 2 minute discussion with the person. As a matter of fact, I got a C2 in the oral part of the exam.
Anyway, I was just updating you on the situation in case you would want to update the article or write a sequel to it. Until now, I haven’t been able to get in touch with anyone to make this story go public to actually reach someone who can do something about this policy and that is the most frustrating part of it. No one can help, but they won’t direct you to someone who will either, probably because of the financial aspect of the policy too.
Riley Haas has been a leading expert since 2011 on immigration matters, with hundreds of publications online. Published author of three books about political philosophy, the Beatles and the Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. BA from Bishop’s University, MA from McMaster University. You follow Riley on Substack https://rileyhaas.substack.com.