2.C Settlement and Integration
C.6 How is education treated?
(iv) How are foreign credentials assessed?
How Canada Does It
Foreign qualification recognition is the process of verifying that the knowledge, skills, work experience, and education obtained in another country is comparable to the standards established for Canadian professionals and tradespersons. In Canada, there are a multitude of organizations involved in credential assessment and qualification recognition. Education Credential Assessments (ECAs) undertaken by third party credential assessment agencies can help refugees understand the Canadian equivalency of international educational credentials for licensure or employment purposes.
In Canada, there are a multitude of players involved in credential assessment and qualification recognition. This includes regulatory bodies, post-secondary educational institutions, and employers. Some occupations in Canada are regulated to protect public health and safety, and internationally trained individuals, including refugees, need to obtain licensure or certification from a regulatory body to work legally in these occupations.
The qualification recognition process can be complex and timelines can vary from a few days or weeks to several years. Refugees must submit proof of their language proficiency, education (transcripts) and work experience, and may also need to undertake written, oral, or practical examinations. Some refugees may need to upgrade their education or get on-the-job experience to obtain qualification recognition or licensure required to work in their intended occupation.
Canada’s Settlement Program also provides pre-arrival and in-Canada services to assist refugees with foreign qualification recognition, licensure, and employment pathways. Provincial governments may also provide additional or complementary supports to assist refugees with qualification recognition and employment.
In Canada, ECA reports can help authenticate the foreign educational credentials of refugee applicants and to determine equivalency to completed Canadian credentials. An ECA does not mean that refugees’ foreign work experience or professional credentials are automatically recognized for employment or licensure purposes. Refugees intending to work in a regulated profession or trade will need to acquire a license or certificate from a provincial regulatory or trade certification body for that occupation.
Refugee situations often result in important documents that are traditionally required to verify foreign credentials being left behind or destroyed. Canada’s experience of resettling Syrian refugees in 2015-2016 led to further refinement in best practices and incorporating flexibility into policies, procedures, and document requirements for credential assessment organizations assisting refugees who do not possess documentary evidence of their foreign credentials. Alternative assessment approaches include: the use of sworn affidavits, background papers, and published research; verification of skills through reference letters; verification through direct contact with foreign embassies or academic institutions; competency-based assessments, exams or interviews; and Recognition of Prior Learning Assessment (RPL) approaches that allow individuals to identify, document, and gain recognition for their prior learning which may be formal, informal, or experiential.