International graduates and essential workers eligible to apply for permanent residency under a new program say requiring them to retake language proficiency tests is unreasonable, especially during a global pandemic.
Akshay Aman, a law clerk graduate currently working as a security officer in Toronto, says international students have already passed language tests and proved their proficiency in English or French when they got their school admission and student visa.
He says the websites of the government-approved language tests have crashed since the announcement of the new program last week leaving thousands of applicants struggling to register for a test during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alexander Cohen, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, says the department wants to assure prospective applicants that the process will be fair for everyone, but he didn't say whether the department will drop the language requirement for those who have already passed proficiency tests.
The new program aims to grant 90,000 essential workers and international graduates who are currently in Canada permanent status.
On May 6, the immigration department will start accepting up to 50,000 applications from health care and other essential workers and 40,000 applications from international students who graduated from a Canadian institution.