What is ECA? How to Validate Your Educational Credentials in Canada

Wanting to kick-start your career up in the Great White North? Then you’re off to a good start.

With an abundance of Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) offering top-notch, affordable education, you can secure yourself an internationally recognized qualification from well-renowned institutions. To achieve this, international students would have to undergo certain standard procedures when applying to immigrate to Canada.

In this article, we explore the processes involved in obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA), and how international students in Canada can validate their educational credentials.

What is ECA?

International students in Canada must undergo an assessment that will validate their foreign degree, diploma, certificate or any other credential relevant to their field of study. There are different ECAs for different needs and circumstances to immigrate to Canada.

The ECA will serve as proof that the foreign credential is an equivalent to a Canadian credential - this plays a vital role in the immigration process, especially for students who plan to live and work in Canada. Professionals, graduates and skilled workers will also need to validate their credentials.

Let’s have a look at how the process will unfold for obtaining an ECA for the Express Entry system.

What is the Express Entry System?

The Express Entry is not an immigration program but rather, it is an online points-driven system that consists of immigration options. More so, Express Entry is well-renowned for yielding quick results since it comprises some of the most versatile immigration programs under the Express Entry umbrella. These are:

  • Canadian Experience Class
  • Federal Skilled Program
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program

Since Express Entry is the most commonly preferred immigration system, we’ve decided to look at how to go about an ECA under the Express Entry.

The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)

Students can obtain a CRS score of 600 points - they’ll be scored on various factors, just to name a few, such as skills, work experience, spouse or common-law partner, as well as language and educational compatibility.

Which factors will increase your CRS score?

  • Having a Canadian qualification,
  • a valid job offer in Canada,
  • successful territory/province nominations,
  • a sibling who is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, and
  • the ability to speak English and/or French well.

All of the above factors will be highly favorable and can earn you an additional 600 points, which will increase your chances of successful immigration to Canada.

What is an ECA Report?

If you have a foreign credential, depending on the type of ECA, your report will serve as proof that your foreign credential is equivalent to a completed Canadian credential. When applying under the Express Entry, you need to include your ECA report and reference number in your Express Entry profile.

How does an ECA Report Work?

While an ECA report may help with seeking a job in Canada, there’s no guarantee that you’ll find a job in your field or at your skill level. Furthermore, individuals will still be subject to obtaining a license to practice in professions that are regulated.


As mentioned, international students in Canada will first have to prove through their ECA report that their foreign credential is valid and that it’s equivalent to a Canadian credential.

Should your ECA report prove that your credential is not equivalent to a Canadian credential, or that the foreign institution is not a designated institution, you won’t:

  • meet the educational criteria under the said program and
  • you’ll be unable to receive points.

Feeling a bit unsure about the process? Don’t sweat it. You’d be pleased to know that you don’t need to do this alone as our professional Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) can guide you throughout the process. Get in touch today.

Who Needs an ECA?

Those who completed their education outside of Canada should undergo an assessment to determine eligibility for the Federal Skilled Workers Program under Express Entry; or those who want to gain points for a foreign credential outside of Canada.

To earn points, however, your ECA report must prove that you’ve completed a foreign credential and that it’s equivalent to a Canadian credential of a Canadian high school education or post-secondary credential.

So, who will not require an ECA?

Applicants with a Canadian degree, diploma or certificate will not require an assessment.

Which credentials must be assessed?

You will need an assessment for your highest level of education - for instance, if a Master’s degree is your highest level, you won’t need an assessment for your Bachelor’s degree.

There are times where students are required to get an assessment for more than one or two credentials, and in this case, you can earn additional points if you get each credential assessed.

Suppose your post-secondary credential is not equivalent to a Canadian credential, then you could have your secondary credential assessed, which will earn you points for completing secondary school.

How does one Obtain an ECA?

Your assessment must be obtained from a designated professional body by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). In turn, you will receive a report which stipulates the equivalent of your credential to Canada.

Note that different organizations or professional bodies may be subject to different processing fees and other additional costs. Thereafter, the organization or body will give you directions on how to submit your documents that need to be assessed.

Below are some of the designated organizations you can use, according to the official Canadian government website:

  • Comparative Education Service – University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies
  • International Credential Assessment Service of Canada
  • World Education Services
  • International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)
  • International Credential Evaluation Service – British Columbia Institute of Technology

International students in Canada with regulated professions should first get in touch with the regulatory body within the Canadian province to obtain their licence to practice within the intended field or occupation.


Submit Your ECA Report

Before you proceed with submitting your ECA report, we would like to highlight a few relevant pointers:

  • The ECA report is strictly for immigration purposes and must be issued by a designated organization or professional body by the IRCC.
  • The report must be issued on the date that the organization or professional body is deemed as designated - the report cannot be more than five years old on the date you submit your Express Entry profile, or apply for permanent residence in Canada.
  • Note that the designated body will not be responsible for submitting your report.

The Steps to Follow After you Receive your ECA Report

Step 1: You must enter your results you received from the designated body into your Express Entry profile.

Step 2: Gather the necessary documents and keep your original documents in a safe place.

Step 3: Ensure that you’re ready to upload copies of your documents - in case you get an invite to apply for permanent residence.

How do I enter more than one credential onto my Express Entry profile? 

Below we outline the steps:

Step 1: Go to the “Study and languages” form and fill in the information in the “Education history” area.

Step 2: Here you can enter your first credential, which will be your highest educational level. Note that you will need a new field every time you submit a credential.

Step 3: Click “save and add” and you will see the fields that you previously filled out will go blank.

Step 4: You can check your added credentials in the “Education history” table - click the “save and add button” every time you enter a credential. Repeat the process for the other remaining credentials that must be added.

You can find out more information on what to expect after you submit your application for permanent residence here.


And there you have it. You may have started out wondering: what is ECA? Rest assured for those wanting to live and work in Canada as we've answered most of the questions around the ins and outs of an ECA and the processes involved.

If you’re still feeling a bit uncertain, which is perfectly natural, feel free to get in touch with a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) to advise and guide you through the process. 

FAQs

1. How much does ECA cost?

According to the official Canadian government website, an ECA will cost around $200, including the costs to have it delivered. However, different designated professional bodies or organizations are subject to different costs or processing fees.

2. Is an ECA mandatory for Express Entry?

Absolutely. You will require an ECA as well as an ECA report (where necessary) if you will be having your credentials assessed - which is most likely be the case since you will earn yourself points under a points-driven system. You can earn up to 600 points.

3. How is ECA done?

You need to submit your application for immigration, gather the necessary documents, submit the documents and have your credentials assessed by a designated professional body or organization. A report will then be created and delivered. It is the duty of the applicant to submit the report.