Anyone immigrating into Canada needs to provide sufficient information and documents to the federal and provincial governments to facilitate the immigration process. Unfortunately, many people attempting to enter the country overlook the importance of having the Educational Credential Assessment (ECA).
The ECA is a document that ensures any educational credential you possess from an outside country is on par with the credential’s Canadian equivalent. Not everyone needs this assessment, but it is an essential document many people should have before immigrating into the country. We have a comprehensive guide below about the ECA, include everything you need to know about acquiring it.
What Is the Educational Credential Assessment?
The ECA is a document necessary for anyone who wants to immigrate to Canada through the country’s Express Entry program. Express Entry, or the Federal Skilled Worker Program, is an official immigration process for Canada that focuses on talented workers from other countries.
Workers intending to immigrate into the country via that method will enter a candidacy pool and receive Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores on different skills, education, work experience and language proficiency. People with the best scores will receive invites to apply for permanent residency in Canada.
The Educational Credential Assessment is an essential document and a requirement for entry through the Express Entry program. The purpose of the ECA is to help the government determine if your international diplomas, degrees, certifications, and other educational credentials are similar in standards to their Canadian equivalents. Having an ECA proves your credentials’ validity.
An ECA helps you become a stand-out in the Express Entry candidacy pool. It also generates a report that could aid in your job search in Canada. Though it won’t guarantee a position with an employer or replace required licensing for work, it can make you a more appealing candidate for employment.
Canada has various ECAs, but you must acquire one for immigration purposes from an approved ECA organization if you intend to move into the country. It is an essential aspect of the Express Entry profile and could boost CRS scores up to 25 points.
Who Needs an ECA?
Anyone immigrating to Canada via Express Entry with educational credentials from a school outside the country will require an assessment. Obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment is the first step in the immigration process through that program. If you are eligible for Express Entry, you must submit your ECA report before entering the program’s candidacy pool.
Participants in the Federal Skilled Trade Program and Canadian Experience Class do not need to assess their educational credentials. However, you could earn CRS points for these programs with an assessment.
If you obtained a Canadian degree, diploma, or certificate, an ECA would be unnecessary because the schooling occurred in the country. The assessment will help you earn points for your international education.
It is possible to earn points via your spouse’s or common-law partner’s education. However, they must immigrate to Canada at the same time as you. The only way for you or your partner to earn points toward your Express Entry profile is for the ECA report to show that your completed foreign degree, certificate, or diploma is equal to a Canadian secondary or post-secondary credential.
In most cases, acquiring an ECA for your highest credential is sufficient. For example, If you hold a master’s and doctoral degree, the only assessment you’d need is for the doctorate. However, you could earn more points by assessing more than one credential.
Which Educational Credentials Need Assessment in Canada?
Though it is ideal to have an ECA for all of your education credentials, it is unnecessary. Your highest degree is sufficient. However, if your highest post-secondary education is not equivalent to its Canadian equivalent, you will receive an evaluation on your secondary education to earn CRS points.
The Cost of an ECA
Unfortunately, getting an Educational Credentials Assessment is not free. They typically cost between $200 to $220, not including courier fees for receiving the original document. Designated organizations will take a few weeks to complete the evaluation and generate a report, but the final record remains valid five years from its issue date.
How to Get Educational Credential Assessment?
ECA applicants must get their evaluation through an approved professional organization set forth by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Processing times and submission requirements vary according to your designated organization choice.
Comparative Education Service (CES) - University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies
To receive an ECA from CES, you must follow three steps. The first step involves locating your country of education on a link from the CES website to learn which documents you will need for your ECA report.
For instance, if you have educational credentials from China, you must have:
- Colour copies of your post-secondary graduation certificates
- Official English or French translations for the documents
- All degree certificates, transcripts including all years of study
- Verification reports for all institutional documents
After obtaining the necessary documents, download and complete the Educational Credential Assessment application from the agency’s website. Your previous school or university must mail all requested documents to CES, not you. Include your fee payment with the package you prepare for CES.
International Credential Assessment Service of Canada (ICAS)
This organization is in Guelph, Ontario. ICAS requires all ECA applicants to review the agency’s documentation requirements first because different countries have specific conditions. After familiarizing yourself with essential documents, you should complete the ICAS application online.
When ICAS receives your application, the agency will send a confirmation email for you to print that includes a Document Submission form. That form will list the photocopied unofficial documentation you must send to ICAS with your application. If applicable, the paperwork requirements will consist of photocopies of your credentials, transcripts for each degree, and abstracts of dissertations or thesis.
The confirmation email will also include an Official Records Request form to send to your educational institution, which allows it to send official records to ICAS. Send your photocopied documents and submission form to the organization by mail or courier.
World Education Services (WES)
The most widely used organization providing ECA reports is World Education Services in Toronto. ECA applicants must contact WES online by completing forms on their website. You will get a reference number when you submit your online application.
WES will provide document requirements for the country of education, including an academic transcript that includes all your completed courses and grades. If you possess a doctoral degree, you must have an official letter from your educational facility confirming your degree.
When your documents are ready, download and print an Academic Records Request form or a Doctoral Degree Conferral Request form to send to your school or university. The paperwork is necessary because the educational institute must directly mail the transcripts to WES.
After WES receives your documents, the organization will process your application. They will provide you with an electronic ECA report to submit to IRCC.
International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)
Alberta’s approved organization for ECAs is IQAS. This organization does not evaluate trades, only academic credentials.
Obtain an ECA checklist and prepare your supporting documents. Paperwork will include copies of your completed degree or diploma, photo ID, completed IQAS form, and academic transcripts. You must use the IQAS Request of Academic Records form to request transcripts from your university so that it can send your transcripts to IQAS.
Complete the online application and wait to receive your completed application by email. After receiving all the documents and forms, send everything to IQAS by mail. It generally takes about three weeks to process the application, but times are subject to change.
International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES)
The International Credential Evaluation Service is a designated organization for ECAs through the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Like IQAS, this agency only provides Educational Credential Assessments for completed academic credentials. ICES will not evaluate:
- Professional licenses
- Military training
- Work and life experiences
To obtain an ECA from ICES, you must send a formal request to your educational institution for transcripts according to the organization’s requirements for your university’s country. If necessary, you will also need to gather photocopies of your government-issued ID, academic records, and official English or French translations of the paperwork.
Complete the application form on the ICES website, and pay the required fee. Print and sign the document. Send it and your other documentation to ICES by mail or email.
Designated Organizations According to Specialized Occupations
You could receive an ECA through a specialized organization depending on your profession. This option is ideal if you intend to work for a regulated occupation or large employer.
For instance, if you are an educated and trained specialist physician (NOC 3111) or a general practitioner (NOC 3112), you must get your assessment of your primary medical diploma through the Medical Council of Canada.
Pharmacists (NOC 3131) that require a license to practice need an evaluation from the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada. Workers in the pharmaceutical industry that usually require licensing in Canada include employees tending to patients in :
- Community pharmacies
- Long-term care facilities
- Hospital pharmacies
Not everyone working in the pharmaceutical industry needs a license. If your profession doesn’t require licensing, you can choose another designated organization to conduct your Educational Credential Assessment.
ECA for Foreign Workers
If you intend to gain employment in Canada, you can get an ECA report to make you more attractive to employers. However, that might not be enough.
Depending on your expected position and industry, prospective employers may also want to know which qualifications you possess to make you a good candidate for the job. Employers may inquire about your skills, knowledge, and work experience in addition to your credentials, so you may need to provide proof of industry-specific competencies to get a job.
ECA for International Students
Even if you plan to continue your education in Canada and not immigrate exclusively for work purposes, you should get an ECA report. Many schools, colleges, and universities in Canada assess international students by evaluating their transcripts.
However, it is good to allow an assessment agency to conduct the evaluation in some cases. Educational institutions tend to favour specifically designated organizations. It is helpful to contact your prospective Canadian learning facility to learn about the preferred assessment type and agency.
Submitting Your Educational Credential Assessment
You have five years to submit your ECA results to your Express Entry profile and apply for permanent residency. The evaluation only remains valid for five years.
Once you have your report, input the results and reference number in your Express Entry Profile. Be sure to retain your original documents if you need them during your immigration process. You may need to upload copies of the paperwork if the Canadian government invites you to apply for permanent residency.
What Happens if You Possess Two or More Credentials
You may have more than one educational credential to add to your profile, though you only need one. Having multiple assessment results could boost your CRS score.
When adding the second or third degree, diploma, or certification, ensure that at least one of them is for a program lasting at least three years. You also need a valid ECA for every credential you add to your Express Entry profile. Failing to follow these guidelines will cost you points, but the order in which you complete your educational credentials is negligible.
How to Enter Additional Educational Credentials into Your Profile
If you would like to add a credential to your Express Entry profile, select the Study and Languages form on your account. Complete all the questions in the “Education History” section for your first credential, which should be for your highest degree. Select “Save and Add.”
Your credential will appear on the table under the “Save and Add” button. Repeat the steps for your other credentials.
What You Should Know About Your ECA Report
Your official ECA report will show that your foreign educational credential is valid and upholds the same standards as its Canadian equivalent. The report’s result and reference number are what you need to include in your Express Entry profile.
Suppose your assessment result shows that your credential is not comparable to its Canadian equivalent or comes from a learning institution the country doesn’t recognize. In that case, you will not meet the Express Entry education requirement. You also will not receive any points for the assessment.
Moving Forward in Canada
The immigration process for people coming into Canada is complex and can be overwhelming. However, Ensuring that you have the correct documents, like the Educational Credential Assessment, will make the process more straightforward so that you can soon enjoy living, working, and studying in the country legally.
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