An Educational Credential Assessment, or an ECA report, is required by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to assess one’s international academic credentials obtained from outside of Canada. The main purpose of an ECA report is to verify how much a foreign educational credential is worth by Canadian education standards. ECA reports are only valid for a maximum of five years from the date of issue. Therefore, if you have an ECA report that was issued more than five years ago, you have to obtain a new one from a designated organization.
In addition, ECA reports are mandatory for applicants applying under the Canadian Express Entry program and, in limited circumstances, for international students attempting to gain admission into a Canadian college or university program. There are seven designated organizations which are currently authorized to issue ECA reports:
- World Education Services (WES)
- Comparative Education Service – University of Toronto (CES)
- International Credential Assessment Service of Canada (ICAS)
- International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)
- International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES)
- Medical Council of Canada (for Doctors)
- Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (for Pharmacists)
It is ultimately up to the applicant to decide which organization is best suited for the purposes of their immigration application. However, it is worth noting that a degree assessed by ICES may be valued differently than the same degree evaluated by CES. By contrast, degrees in medicine and pharmacy must be assessed by the Medical Council of Canada and Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada, respectively. Perhaps more importantly, an ECA report does not prove that an applicant is accredited or licenced in a regulated profession. Instead, professional accreditation is an entirely separate process from an ECA, which is determined by regulatory authorities in each Canadian province.
How do I obtain my ECA Report?
ECA reports can be obtained from the seven organizations noted above for a designated fee. Processing fees vary for each organization and the number of degrees an applicant wishes to have assessed. The most commonly used organization by immigration applicants is the WES. This is because their instructions are easy to follow and their assessments are usually completed faster than the other organizations mentioned above.
Applicants are required to create a profile on the website of the organization from which they decide to get their report. While creating the profile, applicants provide background information about their academic credentials from their country of education. Once this is complete and processing fees are paid, applicants receive a list of documents required by the assessing organization to start the evaluation process. These documents cannot be submitted online and therefore must be mailed directly by the academic institution to the assessing organization.
Remember that obtaining an ECA report is only one aspect of your immigration application which must be handled with great care and diligence. Failure to submit the correct report for your academic credentials, or not submitting it when required by IRCC can result in the refusal of your immigration application. If you are not sure about whether you need an ECA report, or if you are ready to begin your Canadian immigration journey, contact our office to assist you through the process.
“This article is intended to inform. Its content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon by readers as such. If you require legal assistance, please see a lawyer. Each case is unique and a lawyer with good training and sound judgment can provide you with advice tailored to your specific situation and needs.”