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With the launch of Express Entry, a new electronic immigration application management system designed to shorten application processing wait times and respond to changing labour market needs, the value of an Educational Credential Assessment has increased greatly.
With the new system, applicants are required to submit online profiles to express their desire to immigrate to Canada. Candidates who meet the minimum requirements are accepted into a candidate pool and ranked according to several factors, including age, education, language proficiency, and Canadian experience.
Candidates with the highest ranking are invited to apply for permanent residence in Canada. The pool is open to Canadian employers and a job offer to candidates greatly improves their ranking, accounting for nearly half of the maximum 1,200 points.
An Educational Credential Assessment is used to verify that a candidate’s foreign degree, diploma, certificate (or other proof of credential) is valid and equal to a Canadian one. Skilled immigrants with a foreign degree, diploma or certificate will need an Educational Credential Assessment to be considered for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) under Express Entry, the Federal Skilled Trades Program, or the Canadian Experience Class.
Educational Credential Assessments will only be accepted from organizations designated by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Educational Credential Assessments must be issued on or after the date CIC designated the organization and must show that the applicant’s credential is equal to a completed Canadian one. Educational Credential Assessments completed more than five years prior to the date CIC receives an applicant’s Express Entry profile will not be accepted.
An Educational Credential Assessment can give candidates early feedback on how their foreign credentials compare to those in Canada. An Educational Credential Assessment will help applicants find out whether they need additional training, education or Canadian work experience. Educational Credential Assessments will also help applicants understand the types of jobs for which they might be qualified as well as helping employers to understand their qualifications.
An Educational Credential Assessment does not guarantee that applicants will secure a job in their field or at a certain level. It also does not guarantee that an applicant’s work experience and professional credentials will be automatically recognized in Canada, or that they will be licensed to practice in a regulated profession.
Applicants who apply under Express Entry will be awarded a maximum of 25 points based on the level of education compared to Canadian standards. The 100-point FSWP selection grid assesses applicants against six main criteria. To pass, applicants need 67 points or more. Applicants who were educated outside of Canada will only receive points for their education if they submit an Educational Credential Assessment.
Individuals applying for Express Entry as specialist or general physicians and pharmacists must have their Educational Credential Assessment completed by specialized bodies (the Medical Council of Canada and the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada respectively).
Individuals applying under all other occupations should check the websites of the CIC-designated organizations or contact them directly to find which one best suits their needs. Fees and processing times vary by organization, with an average cost of $200 and processing lengths of up to five months.