IELTS for self-employed immigration – Do I need to take the test?

IELTS for self-employed immigration to CanadaVasilisa is a famous Russian opera singer. During a tour of Canada, she fell in love with the country. Therefore, Vasilisa has decided to immigrate to Canada as a professional artist. However, she wonders if faking IELTS or another language test is mandatory for self-employed immigration. Nonetheless, Vasilisa is a successful performing artist. Consequently, she has no concerns about other aspects of this immigration option to Canada.

Canada has two official languages: French and English. When you immigrate to Canada, you usually need to show you know at least one of these languages. However, the government of Canada accepts the following language tests only:

  • CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program  (Only CELPIP General! Don’t take General-LS)
  • IELTS: International English Language Testing System (Take the IELTS General test. Don’t take IELTS Academic)
  • TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français
  • TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du français

The most popular test is the IELTS. Consequently, this article refers to this test. However, the other tests are equally credible, and I refer to them from time to time.

How does taking IELTS affect self-employed immigration?

When you apply as a self-employed artist or athlete, you must meet the minimum requirements. Of course, if you don’t, then the officer will refuse your application. IELTS or other language tests are not part of the minimum criteria at the moment. However, self-employed immigration has a point system as well. You need to receive at least 35 points out of a 100-point system. Language tests could help you get up to 24 points.

You don’t need to know both the official languages of Canada. Nonetheless, if you know both of them, then you need to take two language tests: one in French and one in English. Of course, when you receive your marks, the one that brings you the highest score becomes your first language, and the other one becomes your second language. Consequently, the primary language could generate up to 16 points for you and the secondary language up to eight points.

IELTS points for self-employed immigration

The following tables show the number of points you could receive for each language test. Of course, the chart shows the scores for each ability. Thus, you need to add up your points for speaking, listening, reading and writing.

Table A – High Proficiency

You receive 4 points for the first language and 2 points for the second language if any of your scores falls in this table.

Language Test Reading Writing Listening Speaking
CELPIP General 8-12 8-12 8-12 8-12
IELTS General 6.5-9.0 6.5-9.0 7.5-9.0 6.5-9.0
TEF Canada 233-278+ 349-416+ 280-334+ 349-416+
TCF Canada 499-700+ 12-21+ 503-700+ 12-21+

Table B – Moderate Proficiency

You receive 2 points for the first language and 2 points for the second language if any of your scores falls in this table.

Language Test Reading Writing Listening Speaking
CELPIP General 6-7 6-7 6-7 6-7
IELTS General 5.0-6.0 5.5-6.0 5.5-7.0 5.5-6.0
TEF Canada 181-232 271-348 217-279 271-348
TCF Canada 406-498 7-11 398-502 7-11

Table C – Basic Proficiency

You receive 1 point for the first language and 1 point for the second language if any of your scores falls in this table.

Language Test Reading Writing Listening Speaking
CELPIP General 4-5 4-5 4-5 4-5
IELTS General 3.5-4.5 4.0-5.0 4.5-5.0 4.0-5.0
TEF Canada 121-180 181-270 145-216 181-270
TCF Canada 342-405 4-6 331-397 4-6


If your results are lower than Table C, you won’t receive any points.

Some examples of calculating your self-employment points based on your IELTS test results

The following examples show you how to calculate your points. In all these examples, I assume you have only taken IELTS General, and the English language is the only official language you know.

Example 1: IELTS test band scores: Reading 6, Writing 5.5, Listening 7, Speaking 4.5

In this example, you could find your reading, writing and listening scores in Table B. Therefore, you receive two points of each and a total of 6 points. However, you only receive one point for speaking as it falls in Table C. Consequently, your overall language point is 7.

Example 2: IELTS test band scores: Reading 6.5, Writing 7.5, Listening 7.5, Speaking 8.0

In this example, you could find your reading, writing and listening scores in Table B. Therefore, you receive two points of each and a total of 6 points. However, you earn four points for speaking as it falls in Table A. Consequently, your overall language points are 10.

How outstanding IELTS results are for self-employed immigration

To be honest, I have never seen an officer calculates self-employed points to approve or refuse an application. Of course, you may ask why? Simply put, you only need 35 points, and if you meet the minimum requirements, the chances you do not have those points are close to zero. The majority of my clients receive 60 points or more without taking the IELTS or any other language tests. However, I highly recommend taking the test and receiving a good score. My personal recommendation is IELTS 6.0 under every skill. Here are my reasons:

  • Psychological value: Immigration officers practice discretion in reviewing self-employed applications. If you present a good IELTS score, it could positively impact their assessment. Of course, your primary focus needs to be on the main criteria, but don’t skip IELTS.
  • The realities of life in Canada: At the end of the day, you intend to live in Canada. The mother-tongue language of most Canadians is English. Knowing English means, you could live a better life and encounter fewer problems. While you are preparing yourself for the IELTS test, you are also making yourself ready for your life as a self-employed person in Canada.
  • The test brings you points after all: Although the points are not that important, we cannot ignore the fact that you will receive points for presenting the test results.

What is the recommended IELTS score for self-employed immigration

The government has not posted the recommended scores. However, I believe your scores must fall in either Table A or Table B. An IELTS score that falls in Table C means your English is weak. You don’t want to give a negative impression to the officer, do you?

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    Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    Al Parsai

    This article has been expertly crafted by Al Parsai, a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University. A respected member of CICC and CAPIC organizations, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.