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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 eight 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:

There are three additional ECA organizations to be used for designated professional bodies. If your primary occupation is that of a specialist/ general physician (NOC 31100, NOC 31101 or NOC 31102), you must have your ECA completed by the Medical Council of Canada. Likewise, if applying as a pharmacist (NOC 31120) you will need to have your ECA issued by the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada. Architects applying under NOC 21200 will need to apply to the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) for their ECA report.

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.

Which organization should you use to get your ECA report?

The process for obtaining the Education Credential Assessment is generally the same for all organizations. You will need to create an account on their site, provide information on your education and then arrange for your education institution to send your official, sealed transcripts to the organization you have chosen.

While all of the above organizations have been designated by IRCC, there is great variation in the length of time it takes for each organization to complete and issue the report. The fastest organization is by far WES Canada with an estimated processing time of about 30 business days. Other organizations were taking anywhere between 14 and 30 weeks to issue the report. These estimated processing times begin from the date that the organization has received all required documentation and information to begin the assessment.

Costs for the report are generally consistent amongst all of the organizations with a range between CAD$200 and $240.

When do you need your ECA report?

The ECA report remains an important document for a variety of programs for Canadian immigration to verify an applicant’s education and their equivalent credential under Canadian standards. In some instances, the ECA report will be a required document at the beginning of the immigration process, such as for many provincial and regional immigration programs, as well as under the Federal Skilled Worker program within the Express Entry system. For example, under FSW it is mandatory to have your ECA report before you can create your Express Entry profile (unless you have completed education in Canada).

Applicants under other programs such as the Canadian Experience Class and the Federal Skilled Trades program do not necessarily need to provide this document but may find it beneficial to make their profile more competitive.

These reports remain valid for a period of five years after their issuance date, meaning that you can often get your ECA report early in your immigration process without worrying about its expiration (unless your process takes longer than five years). If your report has expired, you may be able to have the report re-issued in certain circumstances.

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Rebecca Major

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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