How to get an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) for employment or immigration purposes

Updated: May 14

In this post I will explain the step by step of how I obtained an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to have a Canadian equivalency of the degree I obtained in Chile.


I must clarify that this is NOT a certification or licensing process to work as a Pharmacist (my case) in Canada.


That is a more complex process and depends on the province where you want to live. If that is your case I would recommend that you contact the appropriate regulatory body for the profession and the province.


This is for employment and immigration purposes only.


I will tell here why it was useful for me to have evaluated my credentials beforehand.


Table of contents


1. Why is it useful to validate my credentials?

2. Have an idea of what you are going to need

3. Contact your educational institution

4. Create your account in WES

5. Get the documents

6. Translate the documents

7. Additional authorization

8. Send the envelope




I decided to validate my credentials back in May 2020 when the pandemic was starting.


I knew I was coming to Canada on working holiday and that it was not necessary to do so, but I wanted to take advantage of the fact that I was in Chile and could prepare that documentation in advance in case it would help me to get a position in Canada or later in case we wanted to apply for Permanent Residency.


I lived in Santiago - Chile and I had studied at the University of Concepción located in a city south of Santiago (5 hours by car).


The first thing I did was to start asking my university where I had to get the documents from.


It was not an easy process and not cheap either, each document, stamp and signature had a cost, but when I was working here last year and suddenly during an audit preparation they requested our credentials. I was able to attach that document with my degree and it was worth it.


Also, this year we created our profile for Express Entry and it was worth it to have those extra points and not have to manage everything from Canada.


 

1. Why is it useful to validate my credentials?


Validation of credentials is necessary when you need to demonstrate the Canadian equivalence of a diploma or degree you obtained in your home country, so that local institutions can understand your background.


In simple terms, what you studied in your home country is equivalent to having studied something in Canada (e.g. a 2-year diploma, a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, etc.).


There may be different reasons why you need a credential evaluation:

  • Education

  • Professional licensing or certification

  • Employment

  • Immigration

In this post I will focus on the latter two (Employment and Immigration).


You can get a report showing the Canadian Equivalency
You can obtain a report showing the Canadian equivalency of your degree | Photo by Felipe Gregate

2. Have an idea of what you are going to need


As I mentioned I will focus on Employment and Immigration.


If you believe that having your credentials evaluated can give you an advantage in looking for a job. If you plan to apply for permanent residence in the future under the Express Entry program or another program that gives you points for this.


It is a good decision to prepare these documents in advance, especially because the validity of the report is for 5 years.


The credentials evaluation can be done with different institutions, I will focus on World Education Services (WES) which is the one we used.


To see more details of what other institutions do it visit Canada.ca.


Once you have decided this, I recommend that you get an idea of what you will need.


In WES.org you can check what documents you will need to present by checking the name of the institution where you studied and the diploma/degree you obtained.


3. Contact your educational institution


Once you have reviewed the required documents. You will need a contact person at the institution to guide you on how and where to get the documents as well as to put the final documentation in an envelope, so the first recommendation is to try to find that contact person.


If you don't know where to start, check the webpage of the University or Institution where you studied and try to find someone who can be related to the documentation, alumni, etc.


Some institutions can send the documents online directly, check with your institution to see if they have an agreement with WES. If so, you avoid all these next steps.


In our case, our institutions were not in agreement so the normal paper process was necessary.


You will need a contact person from your educational institution
You will need a contact person from your educational institution | Photo by Media from Wix

4. Create your account in WES


I suggest you create the account at this time, once you know where to get the documents from. To create your account click here.


On the WES page you will see at least 3 assessment options, this is where you choose Employment (WES Standard Application) or Immigration (ECA Application for IRCC).


The main difference is that in the case of immigration WES will send your report directly to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).


You can start with an Employment evaluation and then pay an additional fee and move on to an Immigration report (I did it this way).


At this point you will have to pay the Educational Credential Assessment directly to WES and they will assign a reference number to your case.


They will also give you complete instructions on how to submit the documents.


WES will then wait for the documents to arrive to perform the evaluation.



5. Get the documents


It is very likely that the documents requested will be the academic transcript and degree certificate.


In this link you can check what documents you will need to present by checking the name of the institution where you studied and the diploma/degree you obtained.


Ask in which department of the institution you can obtain these documents.


Then find out if they are provided in English or only in their original language. If they are in English, great! You will save a lot of time and money.


If not, you will need to complete step 5.


Once you have confirmed where you can get the documents from, pay for them if necessary and go to the next step.


Documents must be submitted in English and in original language, if applicable.
Documents must be submitted in English and in original language, if applicable. | Photo by Gabrielle Henderson

6. Translate the documents


If the documents are not in English, you will have to translate them.


Here different situations can occur, you should consult with the institution if they can give you the documents in your original language, you find a translator to do the job and then return with the translations to the institution. This was the case with Aldo.


Another situation, is what happened to me, when I processed my documents and explained the reason for doing so, the contact mentioned that it was mandatory to do the translation with the language department of the University.


Whatever the situation is, do the translation and then go back to your contact at the institution.


7. Additional authorizations


By now you already have the documents in the original language and in English.


Check with your educational institution if any additional authorization is required.


In my case the signature of the Secretary General of the University was required, so after getting the documents in Spanish and English I had to go back for that signature and pay some fees to get it.


Additional authorizations may be required
Additional authorizations may be required | Photo by Media from Wix

8. Send the envelope


At this point the original documents, translations and additional authorizations, if required, have been gathered.


In addition, WES provides a form to be filled out by the contact person at the educational institution with the reference number and some basic information, which should be added to the envelope as well.


The WES requirement indicates that the institution must enclose all documents in an envelope that is signed and sealed across the back flap.


It is important to include here the reference number corresponding to your case, so that WES can identify your documentation when it arrives.


The educational institution can send it directly to WES, but normally the institution will give the envelope to you or someone you have there and that person should send the envelope to WES.


Then you have to wait for it to arrive and be processed.


Finally you will receive a report from WES indicating what your Canadian equivalency is.


 

I hope this post gives you an idea of how to start collecting the information and give a logical guideline on how to do it.


If you have experience with another institution performing the ECA let me know in the comments.


If you have any questions that you think I can help with feel free to contact me by email, comment here or message me on Instagram.


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