Thinking of moving to Canada for work or study and wondering if you will be able to work in your profession or pursue higher education?
Many professionals and tradespeople need to recertify to work in other countries, including Canada.
As part of the process of immigrating to Canada, you may be required to submit documents proving your credentials. Here’s what you need to know about the process, the time it takes, and the cost.
Why do you need your credentials assessed for immigration?
Many of Canada’s skilled worker immigration programs require you to have your foreign credentials assessed to ensure they meet Canadian standards.
You will also probably want to know before immigrating if your credentials are equivalent to Canadian credentials or if you will need to upgrade them. Additionally, an assessment could help future employers understand how your qualifications compare to those of other applicants. Following a credential assessment, you may find that you need more training or education in Canada before you are qualified to practice your profession or trade here. If so, you will need to obtain a new accreditation in Canada. What is involved in this process will depend on your domain.
Why do you need your credentials assessed to study in Canada?
Every Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI) establishes its own requirements, which may be general requirements or program-specific requirements. They can include things like getting your previous degrees from an accredited institution, specific course prerequisites, or proof of language proficiency. You may not need to have your credentials formally assessed through a Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) as some post-secondary institutions will conduct the assessment themselves. Before doing this, contact the admissions office of the institutions you are applying to to see if they accept your foreign credentials.
What is an Educational Credential Assessment?
An ECA is an assessment of your credentials for immigration purposes, but it can also help you when looking for a job to prove to a potential employer that you are qualified. The assessment examines your degree, certificate, diploma or experience to assess whether it is equivalent to a Canadian credential.
For those with multiple degrees, the good news is that you usually only need to get an assessment for your highest level of education. For example, if you have a doctorate, you do not need to have your bachelor’s and master’s degrees assessed. However, if you want to get extra points on your immigration application for having multiple credentials, you may want to have all of your credentials assessed.
What should you know about regulated occupations, professions and trade assessments?
You must be certified by the provincial or territorial body in the jurisdiction where you are moving to Canada in order to work in a skilled trade or occupation. Regulated trades in Canada include carpenters, electricians and plumbers. Regulated professions include architects, pharmacists and doctors. Some professions and trades are regulated in some provinces and territories and not in others, and you often need a permit to work in a specific province even if you already have a permit to work in another province or territory.
For professionals, you may need to pass a written exam, a specific period of supervised work, or have your language and communication skills assessed. If you work in the trades, you may need to pass an exam or complete an apprenticeship.
Each regulatory body has different credential requirements for certification. What’s involved depends on your profession or trade, and the best way to find out what you need is to research your particular situation.
Some recertification processes can be complex. For example, to obtain a doctor’s license, the Medical Council of Canada must grant you a qualification called Licensed by the Medical Council of Canada. To be eligible, you must show proof that you graduated from a medical school listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools with a note from the sponsor indicating that it is an acceptable medical school in Canada. You must then receive a passing grade at Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination and provide proof that you have completed 12 months of clinical postgraduate medical training. Once you are licensed, you will need certification from the College of Family Physicians of Canada or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada – when you will be qualified to apply for a provincial or territorial licence.
What if you’re not eligible?
If your credentials are not deemed comparable to Canadian standards, you may not meet the education requirements for certain immigration programs and you will not get additional points on your immigration application for your credentials.
But there are often options for obtaining further education or training or having your abilities assessed if you are not immediately qualified to practice your profession or trade in Canada.
For example, physicians who have completed a residency program or practiced abroad may apply for a practice-ready assessment. In this program, you work for 12 weeks with an experienced physician who assesses your skills and helps you adjust to Canadian practice.
Other professions and trades may offer additional pathways to Canadian credentials if your credentials are not considered equivalent, including additional training, apprenticeships or testing.
How do I get an ECA?
If you need an ECA for immigration, work or study, you will need to obtain it through the appropriate channels. Educational credentials must be made by an organization approved for this purpose by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. They work with five generalist organizations and two specialized organizations for specific professions:
Be sure to plan ahead when getting your assessment, as it can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to get a response. Most organizations and professional orders list estimated wait times. Once you have your assessment, it is valid for five years, after which you will need to retake your ECA. It costs more than $200 for most ECA reports, with physician and pharmacist assessments usually costing more.
Need help paying for your ECA?
Windmill Microlending is a registered charity that has been supporting immigrants and refugees in Canada since 2005. With loans of up to $15,000, newcomers can pay for education and training programs, licensing fees or qualification exam, a living allowance for a period of study and many other expenses. . To date, they have supported over 6,800 newcomers with over $50 million in low-interest loans to help skilled immigrants succeed in their careers in Canada. Windmill’s affordable loans help new Canadians build credit in their new country, an essential step in establishing themselves for future borrowing to buy a home or car. Windmill loans have a transformative impact on the lives of newcomers 3.6x revenue growth with a drop in unemployment of 41 to 8%. With the recent donation of $2.5 million from Scotiabank as part of the ScotiaRISE initiative, Windmill is well prepared to help you throughout your career in Canada.
To learn more about Windmill Microlending or to access their programs and services, please click here
To learn more about how Scotiabank helps newcomers succeed in Canada and to access helpful articles, please click here
The recreation is worth it
Although the process of re-certification may seem complicated, obtaining your ECA increases your chances of being approved for immigration and helps you obtain a permit once you arrive in Canada so that you can work in your occupation or trade. Be sure to do your research on the path to recertification in Canada based on your profession or trade so you know the exact cost, timeline, and process you need to follow.
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