How to Move from Nigeria to Canada Without IELTS

Canada is one of the top immigration destinations for Nigerians looking for better socioeconomic opportunities and high quality of life. With its booming economy, world-class education system and ample career prospects across fields, Canada offers an appealing environment for Nigerian professionals and students to grow and succeed.

However, most of Canada’s immigration pathways require applicants to prove English language proficiency, usually through the IELTS exam. The IELTS test often presents a major hurdle for Nigerians due to its high cost, limited test dates and intense preparation required.

Fortunately, with the right strategies, you can maximize your chances of migrating from Nigeria to Canada without needing to take the IELTS English test.

This comprehensive guide covers various tips and alternatives to apply for Canadian permanent residence and study permits without IELTS from Nigeria.

8 Best Options to Immigrate to Canada without IELTS

Here are some of the best ways Nigerians can relocate to Canada without having to show IELTS scores:

1. Express Entry Without IELTS

Express Entry is Canada’s flagship system for selecting skilled immigrants for permanent residence.

Most applicants need to submit IELTS, but you can avoid this requirement by:

  • Taking alternative English tests accepted for Express Entry such as IELTS Indicator, CELPIP or TEF Canada.
  • Earning a degree from an approved English-speaking university.
  • Working for at least one year in Canada with valid temporary status.

If you qualify through these IELTS exemptions, you can create an Express Entry profile and get invited to apply for PR without taking IELTS!

2. Provincial Nominee Programs

Canadian provinces can nominate immigrants to expedite their permanent residence if they meet specific eligibility criteria.

Many PNP streams consider alternative English tests like TOEFL or Duolingo instead of IELTS. Some also waive language requirements based on your education, work experience gained in Canada/abroad or close family ties.

Priority PNPs for Nigerians are Ontario PNP, Saskatchewan PNP, Alberta PNP and Atlantic Canada PNP. Explore your options!

3. Canadian Experience Class

The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) pathway enables temporary residents with skilled Canadian work experience to apply for PR directly without going through Express Entry.

You can avoid IELTS for CEC by having:

  • At least one year of skilled Canadian work experience.
  • A degree, diploma or certificate from a Canadian designated learning institution (DLI).

So consider gaining Canadian work exposure first or pursuing a diploma to immigrate permanently later without IELTS.

4. Startup Visa Program

Canada’s Startup Visa Program is designed to attract global entrepreneurs looking to establish businesses in Canada.

No IELTS score is required if you:

  • Obtain at least one year of qualifying business experience and get support from a designated Canadian investor, business incubator or angel investor group.
  • Have completed post-secondary education at a Canadian DLI.
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Bring your business idea to life in Canada without needing IELTS through this exciting pathway!

5. Spousal Sponsorship

If your spouse is a Canadian permanent resident or citizen, they can sponsor you to immigrate to Canada without providing IELTS scores.

Other requirements apply but language ability does not factor into the spousal sponsorship application.

6. Student Visa Without IELTS

If unable to enter Canada directly as a skilled immigrant, an alternative is getting a Canadian study permit first and then applying for PR after graduation.

Some tips to get a student visa without IELTS:

  • Submit other accepted English tests like TOEFL or IELTS Indicator. Duolingo English test is now approved for study permits.
  • Provide academic records showing several years of English education from approved institutions.
  • Apply to a 1-year diploma program at a designated Canadian learning institution. Shorter programs may waive language requirements.

Once you complete an eligible program in Canada, you can benefit from post-graduation work and PR opportunities without needing IELTS again!

7. Visitor Visa to Explore Options

Canadians tourist visa allows Nigerians to enter Canada without IELTS and explore their options for work, study or settlement before applying for longer-term permits.

Spend time researching schools, networking for jobs and meeting with immigration consultants on a visitor visa rather than applying immediately from Nigeria.

8. Work Permit Without IELTS

Some key ways Nigerians can obtain Canadian work permits without mandatory IELTS scores are:

  • NAFTA work permit – For specific occupations under USMCA/NAFTA agreement.
  • International student graduates becoming eligible for post-graduation work permit.
  • Being hired under a positive Labour Market Impact Assessment by a Canadian employer.
  • Getting nominated under an eligible Provincial Nominee Program.
  • Applying through the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

A Canadian employer can also request an LMIA exemption to waive language requirements when applying to hire Nigerian professionals where skill shortages exist.

Gaining Canadian work experience first by any of these routes allows you to later apply for PR without repeating IELTS.

Best Alternatives to Prove English Ability Without IELTS

In situations where taking IELTS itself is not possible, here are some alternatives to prove language proficiency for Canada immigration from Nigeria:

1. Duolingo English Test

Duolingo is a quick and convenient online English test increasingly accepted for Canadian immigration instead of IELTS. It takes only 1 hour, costs $50 compared to IELTS’ $300 and results come in 1-2 days, while IELTS takes up to 2 weeks.

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Many Nigerians find Duolingo more affordable and practical than taking an IELTS exam at a test centre. Duolingo is approved for PR, study permits and work visas.


The TOEFL test is another globally accepted English test for admissions and immigration to countries like Canada. Though not as widely available in Nigeria, TOEFL is cheaper than IELTS at around $190 and fully computerized.

With decent preparation, TOEFL can be easier to clear than IELTS for many Nigerian applicants.

3. IELTS Indicator

IELTS Indicator is a convenient online version of the IELTS test that allows you to take the English test from the comfort of your home. You get results typically in just 3-7 days.

Being computer-delivered, IELTS Indicator saves time and costs compared to taking the paper-based IELTS at crowded test locations in Nigeria.

4. PTE Academic

Pearson PTE Academic exam is a multi-format English test done on computer accepted for Canadian and global admissions.

PTE has unlimited test slots, results in 1-3 days and costs around $200 in Nigeria – much faster than scheduling a traditional IELTS test.


The CELPIP is a Canadian-specific English test used mostly for immigration and citizenship applications.

It is fully computerized, affordable at $270 in Nigeria and has flexible test dates. Results come in just 3-7 days.

CELPIP is ideal for Nigerians focused on fast Canada PR or citizenship rather than study abroad.

6. English Proficiency Interviews

Some Canadian colleges and universities offer to assess English ability using online interviews instead of testing.

During the video interview, your English fluency is evaluated through your speaking, listening comprehension, vocabulary and grammar skills.

If your performance meets their criteria, the institution can issue an IELTS waiver based on the interview.

7. Degree from an English-speaking University

Canada immigration authorities often waive English test requirements if you have completed a degree or diploma of 2+ years’ duration from an approved English-speaking university.

Education gained in countries like the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand or Ireland can be very useful to bypass IELTS for Nigerians.

8. Taking English Classes

If your English skills need improvement, take advantage of low-cost online or in-person English classes in Nigeria before applying to Canadian institutions.

Getting a letter certifying your English proficiency after successfully completing accredited EFSET, ELS or other preparatory programs can strengthen your Canadian visa applications.

Key Tips for Nigerians to Enter Canada Without IELTS

Follow these crucial tips to maximize your chances of entering Canada from Nigeria without needing to take the IELTS exam:

  • Choose alternative English tests accepted in Canada like Duolingo, TOEFL that are easier to schedule and take in Nigeria.
  • Target Canadian study permits for 1-year diploma courses which often waive language requirements.
  • Apply for PR through Express Entry, PNPs and CEC through qualifying IELTS exemptions.
  • Build strong profiles – educational credentials, skilled work experience, business/investment assets – to offset lack of English test scores.
  • Pursue degree or work stints in Canada/abroad to gain qualifying Canadian/English-speaking experience.
  • Research language waivers and directly ask universities, colleges, employers if they can exempt IELTS for your profile.
  • Avoid overdependence on immigration consultants; do your own thorough research.
  • Start application processes early to accommodate delays for visa approvals without IELTS.
  • Demonstrate strong motivation to study/work/settle in Canada despite language challenges.
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With the right preparation, perseverance and research, Nigerians can successfully relocate to Canada without getting stuck on the IELTS barrier. The key is having alternative means to prove English ability tailored to Canadian immigration requirements.

FAQs on Immigrating to Canada from Nigeria Without IELTS

Is it possible to get PR in Canada without IELTS from Nigeria?

Yes, it is possible to get Canadian permanent residence without IELTS through Express Entry, some PNPs, CEC, Spousal Sponsorship and the Startup Visa by meeting alternative English requirements.

Can I get a study permit to Canada from Nigeria without IELTS?

You can get a Canadian study permit without IELTS by applying for short diploma programs of 1 year, taking approved tests like Duolingo or IELTS Indicator, or showing previous studies at English universities.

What is the cheapest way to immigrate to Canada from Nigeria?

The most budget-friendly routes are Express Entry, PNPs, CEC and Student Pathways by proving English proficiency through cost-effective options like Duolingo rather than IELTS.

How can I convince Canada immigration to waive my IELTS requirement?

You can request an IELTS waiver by demonstrating strong credentials in education, work experience, investment assets and language abilities through English tests, interviews, academic records in lieu of IELTS scores.

How long can I stay in Canada with visitor visa from Nigeria?

Nigerian citizens can visit Canada for up to 6 months at a time on a visitor visa. You can use it to explore study, work and immigration options before applying for longer-term permits.


Immigrating from Nigeria to Canada without IELTS is very doable through combination of alternative English tests, qualifying language exemptions based on your background and proactively requesting waivers from institutions and employers.

By researching all options extensively and crafting your Canadian plans carefully, you can successfully enter Canada for fulfilling education and career opportunities without getting obstructed by IELTS requirements.

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