Are you applying through Express Entry’s Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)? If so, then getting an ECA or Education Credential Assessment is one of the first steps you need to take. The other one is taking an approved language test.
In this post, I’m going to focus on explaining what an ECA is and how you can get one particularly from WES or World Education Services.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not meant to substitute professional advice. Information were gathered from both the author’s actual immigration experience and from official websites. To verify the most-up-to-date information, check the list of sources at the end of this post.
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What’s an Education Credential Assessment or ECA?
ECA is a report that shows if your degree, diploma, or certificate is valid or equal to Canadian education. That is if you studied or graduated from outside Canada. Only IRCC’s designated organizations (which I listed down below) can do this assessment.
Your Canadian equivalency must be a high school diploma or higher to qualify for FSWP. And it should also be from a recognized institution. ECA is not required for the Canadian Experience Class or Federal Skilled Trades Program. But those applying through these programs can still get an ECA if they want to get extra points for education.
So, how can you get an ECA?
To get an ECA, you need to request an assessment from any of IRCC’s designated organizations. These include the following:
Designated since April 17, 2013
- Comparative Education Service – University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies
- International Credential Assessment Service of Canada
- World Education Services or WES
Designated since August 6, 2015
Which one should you choose?
WES is so far the most popular and the one with the fastest processing time compared to the others. According to this website, WES processing time is between 1-3 months while others take longer than that.
As for me, I can’t speak for the other organizations because my husband and I only knew about WES. We chose this organization as advised by the agency we hired during our application. As for its processing time, it took us over one month to get back our ECA report.
Though you can choose whichever organization. But remember that you need to get an ECA for immigration purposes as advised by IRCC. If you got another type of ECA, you may request a re-issue. But it depends on the type of ECA and/or issuing organization.
If you’re also using WES to assess your education, here are the steps to request for an ECA.
First things first: What documents should I send to WES?
If you’re not sure yet what documents you need to send to WES, go to this page from WES’ website to find out. Select ‘Canada’ for the Equivalency Country and ‘Yes’ for Applying for IRCC. Choose the applicable choices from the drop-down menu. Then click “View Requirements”.
As per IRCC, you only need an assessment for your highest completed level of education. So if you completed a Bachelor’s Degree, you only need to send your college credentials. You don’t need to also send your high school credentials. And if you have a Master’s Degree, then you don’t need to also send your Bachelor’s Degree credentials.
Also, according to WES, you can only have your completed degrees or diplomas evaluated. That means if you didn’t finish your degree or diploma, you can’t send them for assessment.
Going back to your required documents to send, here’s an example.
I graduated from UP Diliman with a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism. According to WES, I only need to send them my Academic Transcript. Although way back in 2015, I was also required to send a copy of my diploma.
So, how do I send my Academic Transcript or Transcript of Records (TOR)?
In my case, WES gave two options. As you can see in the screenshot below, I can either:
- Ask my school where I graduated to send my TOR directly to WES in a sealed envelope. The envelope must be signed or stamped across the back flap by the appropriate official at the institution, or
- I can get my TOR from my school then send it to WES. The TOR must be in a sealed envelope. If the envelope is opened or there is no stamp or signature across the back flap, WES cannot accept the document.
In 2015, I did Option 1. Since we were in Dubai at that time, I called the registrar’s office of UP Diliman to check the process. Luckily, they’re familiar with it because they’ve done it a couple of times before for other alumni. So they asked me to send the Request Form provided by WES by e-mail. They also told me to pay for the TOR and courier charges.
Now, before you contact your school, make sure to create your WES account first. And that’s because you need to mention your WES Reference Number in the Request Form. Plus, you also need to pay the evaluation fee first.
Follow the below steps to create your account.
- In WES’ website, click GET AN EVALUATION and choose CANADA when asked with “where will you use your evaluation?”
- Choose the ECA Application for IRCC, and click START APPLICATION.
- You will need to provide your e-mail address to create your WES Account.
- Once you have an account, you will have a reference number that you should keep.
- Pay the evaluation fee of CAD 220+tax (around AED 648 or PHP 8,798). You might also need to pay other costs like courier charges. Then, send your documents to WES by following their instructions. They also have an option for you to upload your documents instead (read here for full details).
- You’ll receive an e-mail with your ECA report usually after a month. WES will also send you a hard copy by mail.
I’ve read somewhere that you can also download WES’ mobile app. Here, you can track the progress of your request. I’m not sure if they have this way back in 2015, but perhaps not yet.
If you plan to do Option 2 (where you get your TOR and send it directly to WES instead), make sure to follow WES’ instructions. These include the following:
- The TOR must be in a sealed envelope with a signature or stamp of a school official across the back flap.
- You must not open the envelope before sending it to WES.
You can send it to WES’ office in Canada using any courier company. In our case, we used DHL Express (to send our college diploma; at that time, WES also required us to send this).
Do I need to send original documents to WES?
According to WES, never send original documents unless you’ve been requested to do so. If you do, you won’t get back the original copy because WES won’t return them. You only need to send official document copies or certified true copies.
What if I’m the principal applicant, should my spouse or partner also get an ECA?
The answer is yes, especially if both of you are graduates of a Bachelor’s degree or higher. This is because you can get extra points for your spouse or partner’s education. In our case, my husband and I both sent our credentials to WES. My Canadian equivalency was a Bachelor’s Degree (4 years). My husband (who graduated from DLSU Dasmariñas with BS Business Administration Major in Economics) got an equivalency of two-year diploma.
What if my partner went to college but didn’t complete his or her studies?
According to WES, you can only have your completed degrees or diplomas evaluated for IRCC. That means if your partner didn’t finish his/her degree or diploma, you can’t send their credentials for assessment.
Summary and next steps
So to recap, the first two steps that you need to do if you’re applying through Express Entry are:
- Get an Education Credential Assessment (ECA) from any of IRCC’s designated organizations; and
- Take an approved language test (IELTS General Training or CELPIP-General Test for English).
You can download below a summary checklist of Express Entry’s FSWP step-by-step process.
To qualify for Express Entry’s FSWP under the education criteria, your ECA must show that you have a Canadian equivalency of a high school diploma or higher. And it should come from a recognized institution.
If you don’t meet these requirements, you will not be eligible to apply through Express Entry. In this case, you may take a degree and upgrade your education.
But if you do, then you just need to make sure you also meet the minimum requirements in the language skills. Read here for a detailed guide on taking an approved language test.
If you already have both your ECA report and language test results, then you’re almost ready to take the next step: creating your Express Entry profile. Go here for the step-by-step guide on how to do this.
If you have any questions about getting an ECA, leave them in the comments section.
About the author:
JK Legaspi is a permanent resident of Canada since 2018. She and her family lives in the beautiful Niagara Region. As the founder of Detour To Canada, she aims to help aspiring and future immigrants reach their Canadian dreams by sharing her family’s own immigration and newcomer story.
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