An Educational Credential Assessment, also referred to as an ECA report, is used by Canadian immigration officials to verify a foreign education credential such as a post-secondary degree, diploma or certificate. An ECA Canada report will verify your education and determine what the Canadian equivalent would be. For instance, a Bachelor’s degree program in another country may only be determined to be a two-year program in Canada.
Who needs an ECA report for Canadian immigration?
The Educational Credential Assessment report is a required document for many Canadian immigration programs including Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), regional immigration programs (such as the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program), and perhaps most notably for the federal programs within the Express Entry system. If you wish to apply under the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program under the Express Entry system and you hold a foreign education credential, you will need to obtain an ECA report. Express Entry candidates applying under the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or the Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program can obtain ECA reports in order to maximize their potential points for education.
Generally speaking, you only need to have your highest education assessed. However, in certain circumstances, having all post-secondary education assessed may be optimal. As an example, if you hold a Master’s and Bachelor’s Degree from institutions abroad, you could have just your Master’s Degree assessed, but if the Canadian equivalent is determined to be less than that of a Master’s Degree, having your Bachelor’s Degree assessed as well would allow you to maximize the point you would receive for your education.
Pro-tip for candidates in the Canadian Experience Class: Although an ECA report is not required for CEC, if you hold an education credential earned outside of Canada, you may still find it beneficial to obtain an ECA report as this can give you additional CRS (Comprehensive Ranking Score) points which would increase your chances of being issued an Invitation to Apply.
How do you get an ECA report for Canadian immigration?
In 2013, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) started to designate certain organizations to be used for obtaining the ECA Report. As of today, there are seven different organizations that have been designated by IRCC for this purpose. Five of these organizations are open to everyone, while two of them are occupation-specific, for pharmacists and physicians (see below).
Unless you are a pharmacist or a physician, you have the option of having your ECA issued by any of these five organizations:
- Comparative Education Services – University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies
- International Credential Assessment Service of Canada
- World Education Services (WES Canada)
- International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)
- International Credential Evaluation Service
There are two additional ECA organizations to be used for designated professional bodies. If your primary occupation is that of a specialist physician (NOC 3111) or a general practitioner/family physician (NOC 3112), you must have your ECA completed by the Medical Council of Canada. Likewise, if applying as a pharmacist (NOC 3131) you will need to have your ECA issued by the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada.
When applying for an Educational Assessment Report, it is important that you be sure to apply for one for “immigration purposes”. These organizations may offer assessment reports for other reasons but IRCC has been clear that they will only accept ECA reports issued for immigration purposes.