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Upgrade your foreign credentials for Canada study or work permit


You may need to upgrade your foreign credentials to Canadian levels if you want to come to Canada for study or work.

This is also called re-credentialling.

You may need more training or education in Canada before you’re qualified to practice your profession or trade here. In that case, you’ll have to upgrade your foreign credentials in Canada.

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.


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Upgrading your foreign credentials improves your chances to get your Canada immigration visa. And it also helps you to obtain the trade and professional licenses you require to work in Canada.

This article explains why you need to upgrade your foreign credentials. The information also includes how and where you can upgrade them, and general costs.

Why you need to upgrade your foreign credentials

Upgrade for Canada immigration purpose

Canada’s popular Express Entry immigration system, you must include your Educational credential assessment (ECA) report and the reference number in your Express Entry profile. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses the ECA to verify that your foreign credential is valid and equal to a Canadian one.

See also How to create Express Entry profile for your Canada PR Application.


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There are different types of ECAs. You need to get an ECA for immigration purposes when you are applying for most of Canada’s immigration programs. If you got another type of ECA, e.g. for a Canadian school admission, ask the issuer to re-issue it for your immigration requirements.

If you completed your education outside Canada, you need an assessment to:

  • be eligible as the principal applicant for Federal Skilled Workers Program (Express Entry), or
  • earn points for education you got outside Canada

To earn Express Entry points, your ECA report must show that your foreign credential is equal to a completed Canadian secondary school or post-secondary credential. If your credential is not up to Canadian standard, then you need to upgrade your foreign credentials.

You can also earn points for your spouse or common-law partner’s education, if they are coming with you to Canada. If their ECA falls short they too will need to upgrade their credentials.


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Upgrade your foreign credentials for Canada study permit

Foreign students who applied to and were accepted by a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) may apply for student permit to come to Canada for their program.  

Each Canadian DLI sets their own requirements, including ECA requirements. Some DLIs do the assessment themselves. Contact the admissions office at the DLI you’re applying for to inquire of their ECA policy.

Upgrading for provincial skilled trade and professional licenses

For most trades and professions you must get a license in the Canadian province or territory that you plan to settle in. This is true for most skilled trades and professions. For example, regulated trades include carpenters, electricians, and plumbers. Regulated professions include nurses, lawyers, accountants, architects, pharmacists, and doctors. 

Note that you may also need to complete special licensing and re-credentialling exams, and periods of supervised work.


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How to get Educational Credential Assessment

Canada recognizes ECA for immigration, work permit, or studying from an organization approved by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). And you can find the list of organizations at IRCC ECA organizations website. Also read our posts on the following top ECA providers:

International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) for Canada Immigration

WES ECA for Canada immigration – Updated

International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS) for Canada Immigration


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ECA fees and processing time

ECA providers generally indicate their fees and processing time. Check on the websites provided above. Expect fees in the $CAN200 to $CAN300 range.


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Need financial help to upgrade your foreign credentials?

Many Canadian financial institutions have loan programs to help newcomers settle. You can use these loans for your necessary items including re-credentialling and licence fees to practice a trade or profession. See also Canadian banks are competing for Canada newcomer banking services.

The Canadian government also provides financial assistance to eligible newcomers through its Immigration Loans Program. The government allows you to use the loans for items you need for employment and to pay your re-credentialling and trade/professional licence fees. See Canada Immigration Loans Program (ILP).

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You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.