Do you want to kick-start your career in the Great White North? Canada is loaded with opportunities for skilled foreign workers and international to take their careers and qualifications to the next level in Canada. However, to prove the validity of your skills, you need to have your qualifications verified. To do this, you need an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA).
You may have many questions about the ECA, so we have compiled some of your most burning questions to help you understand ECAs.
What is ECA?
International students in Canada must undergo an assessment to 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 prove that the foreign credential is 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. In addition, professionals, graduates and skilled workers will also need to validate their credentials.
There are two types of ECA reports.
- The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) ECA report.
- This is used to evaluate the foreign educational credentials of applicants for Canadian immigration programs under the CRS.
- The Express Entry ECA report.
- This is used to evaluate the foreign educational credentials of applicants specifically applying to an Express Entry immigration program.
An ECA has five sections, each designed to evaluate a different aspect of the applicant's educational background. They are as follows:
Section 1: Educational Credentials
This section contains information about the original foreign educational credentials. This includes:
- The institution's name,
- The program's name,
- The start and end dates, and
- The type of degree or diploma awarded.
Section 2: Canadian Equivalent
This section explains the Canadian equivalent of a foreign educational credential. This includes:
- The name of the Canadian educational institution,
- The name of the Canadian program,
- The length of study, and
- The degree or diploma awarded.
Section 3: Level of Education
This section focuses on the level of education achieved with the foreign educational credential. This includes:
- The degree or diploma type,
- Field of study, and
- Degree or diploma level.
Section 4: Status of Credentials
This section covers the status of the foreign educational credential, including whether the credential is:
- Revoked, or
Section 5: Additional Information
This section covers any extra information about the foreign educational credential, such as:
- The date of issue,
- The date of completion, and
- Any additional related notes.
How Does an ECA Report Work?
If you have a foreign credential, depending on the type of ECA, your report will prove that your foreign credential is equivalent to a completed Canadian credential. Therefore, when applying under the Express Entry System, you must include your ECA report and reference number in your Express Entry profile.
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 regulated professions. However, if you want to land a job in Canada, here's a handy guide to help you with your job application process.
As mentioned, international students in Canada must prove through their ECA report that their foreign credential is valid and 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 cannot receive points.
Which Canadian Immigration and Visa Programs Need an ECA?
While an ECA isn't vital for every application, almost all economic, student or work-focused immigration or visa program requires applicants to verify their qualifications. Below are Canada's most popular immigration and visa programs and why you need an ECA.
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:
To apply for the express entry system, applicants must create an Express Entry profile. When they do so, they must enter details like their age, marital status, links to Canada, work experience and qualifications. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) largely determines your eligibility for Canadian permanent residency based on these factors; using the CRS. Applicants must corroborate all the information they have provided in their Express Entry profile.
Their application may be significantly delayed or even rejected if they do not. As an ECA validates your qualifications, it's vital for your application.
The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
Another major Canadian immigration program is the PNP. 11 out of Canada's provinces offer skilled foreign workers the opportunity to become a permanent resident of Canada if their skills and experience can help to fill gaps in the provincial economy. If you didn't study in Canada, an ECA is the only means of proving the quality and relevance of your skills to your provincial government.
The PNPs work hand-in-hand with the Express Entry system. You can even apply for a PNP through the Express Entry web portal. Getting a PNP as part of your Express Entry application can add up to 600 points to your CRS score, effectively guaranteeing you an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent resident status in Canada.
An ECA is also vital for this program as it shows how your qualifications compare to Canadian qualifications and if your qualifications are relevant to the occupation you plan to undertake in Canada.
Find out more about how PNPs work and how you can apply here.
The Canadian Study Permit
Canada has some of the best universities in the world, so it's natural for international students to want to take advantage of that quality and study in Canada. However, to study in Canada, you need a Canadian study permit.
If you want a Canadian study permit, you will likely need an ECA to prove to your chosen Designated Learning Institution (DLI) and IRCC that your prior qualifications are legitimate and comparable to Canadian qualifications.
Find the other study permit requirements and how to apply for one.
The Canadian Work Permit
If you want to make the best of Canada's booming job market, you'll need a Canadian work permit. While you don't necessarily need an ECA for your work permit, you will likely need it to apply for a job in Canada, provided your chosen job requires qualifications.
To find out if your job does require qualifications in Canada, here's a breakdown of Canada's National Occupational Classification system.
You will likely need an ECA to prove your qualifications' validity before applying. However, getting your Canadian work permit should be straightforward once you land your job in Canada.
Find out how to apply for a Canadian work permit here.
Not all programs Need an ECA, so it's essential to check your program's specific requirements before applying.
If you are unsure if your immigration or visa program requires an ECA, 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.
Which Credentials Does an ECA Assess?
You 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 when 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. If your post-secondary credential is not equivalent to a Canadian credential, you could have your secondary credential assessed, earning you points for completing secondary school.
If you want to add multiple credentials to your visa or application, there are various ways. For example, here's how you would add a second credential to your Express Entry application.
Go to the "Study and languages" form and fill in the information in the "Education History" area.
You can enter your first credential and highest educational level. Note that you will need a new field every time you submit a credential.
Click "save and add," and you will see the fields that you previously filled out will go blank.
You can check your added credentials in the "Education history" table - click the "save and add button" every time you enter a credential. Then, repeat the process for the other remaining credentials that must be added.
Who Do I Get My ECA From?
You must get your assessment from a professional body designated by IRCC. In turn, you will receive a report stipulating the equivalent of your credential to Canada.
Organizations or professional bodies may be subject to further processing fees and costs. After that, the organization or body will give you directions on submitting 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 (WES)
- 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.
For others, the best place to get your ECA is the WES, as they are recognized both in and outside Canada. Here's how to get your transcript verified by the WES.
How Can I Get an ECA?
Getting an ECA is a relatively straightforward process. However, ensuring every document is correctly verified can be a painstaking process. Here's a basic breakdown of the process.
Step 1: Find a Designated Organisation
The first step in getting an ECA is to find an organization that the Government of Canada designates to conduct ECA assessments. The organizations mentioned above are approved to conduct ECA assessments. Therefore, ensure your chosen organization is reputable and reliable.
Step 2: Submit Your Documentation
Once you have chosen an organization, you must provide them with the necessary documents. The documents that are needed for an ECA depend on the type of foreign educational credential that you have. Generally, the required documents are:
- Academic transcripts
- A copy of the degree or diploma
- Any other documents that the organization may require
It is vital to ensure that you provide all the necessary documents to the organization so they can accurately assess your foreign educational credentials.
Step 3: Receive Your ECA
Once you have provided the necessary documents, the organization will assess your foreign educational credentials and issue an ECA report. The report will then be sent to you.
How Much Does an ECA Cost?
According to the official Canadian government website, an ECA will cost around CA$ 200, including the costs to have it delivered. However, different designated professional bodies or organizations are subject to different costs or processing fees.
What Must I do After Receiving my ECA Report?
Once you receive your ECA report, you must submit it to the Canadian immigration or visa program you are applying for. Therefore, ensuring that the ECA report is submitted with all the other required documents is crucial.
How Long Does it Take to Get an ECA?
The time it takes to get an ECA depends on the organization that you are using. Generally, it takes up to 8 weeks to receive an ECA report.
Therefore, it is vital to ensure that you give yourself enough time to get an ECA before you submit your application for the Canadian immigration or visa program that you are applying for.
What Help Can I Get with Getting an ECA?
If you need help getting an ECA, you can consult one of our RCICs. They can assist you with obtaining an ECA and provide you with the necessary information and advice. In addition, our RCICs have years of experience helping hundreds of hopeful applicants apply to their immigration and visa programs.
If you want to ensure you have all the documents you need and follow the entire process correctly, our RCICs are there for you. Please find out how we can help you today.