Please read Express entry 101 before this post.
To get points for your education (and that of your spouse) under the comprehensive ranking system, you should either have studied in Canada or had an evaluation of your credentials if you studied outside Canada. Completing an ECA for foreign acquired degrees is a requirement to qualify for the Federal Skilled Workers Program.
In simple terms, it means submitting your foreign acquired degree to an accredited body for evaluation and confirmation of the rating of that degree in Canadian equivalency. For example, the chosen institution will confirm if your foreign acquired Bachelor’s degree can also be regarded as a Bachelor’s degree in Canada or maybe it is equivalent to a diploma in Canada.
In my opinion, the two most popular institutions used for ECA are World Education Services (WES) and International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS). To view other available institutions, please see list HERE .
My degrees were evaluated by WES and I found the process straight forward. As I do not have direct experience using IQAS, I will not be detailing their process but I reckon that both processes will not be too dissimilar. The process outlined below is ECA by WES.
- Submit your application – create a profile on www.wes.org and fill in all required information. Please note that if you plan to avail points for education for your spouse for express entry, your spouse will require his/her own WES profile. This simply means each spouse has to create an individual profile on WES.
- Submit your documents – this is where things get a little tricky for some. Your transcripts have to be submitted by the higher institution(s) to WES directly via mail (not email). This means you should not obtain your transcript from your school and send it to WES yourself. You can however mail WES with copies of your degree certificate(s). Remember to provide your WES reference number to your higher institution(s) as it should be clearly detailed on all envelopes being sent to WES.
- Await response – WES will acknowledge receipt of the documents received from your institution via mail, verify and evaluate. The process of verification has been understood to mean that WES establishes contact with the higher institution directly to confirm details on the transcripts. Most individuals who run the ECA for degrees obtained outside Nigeria find this quite straightforward. Some graduates of private universities in Nigeria have also noted the verification process to be quite straightforward. If you happen to have graduated from a non private university in Nigeria, it would be useful to establish contact within the university as it has been realized that it can help fasten the WES process and prevent it from unnecessarily taking too long. Once WES is done with the assessment of the degree(s), you will receive a report with details. Please keep this handy as it is one of the documents required for the express entry application after you receive an ITA (Invitation to Apply for Permanent Residence).
The million dollar question I usually get asked by those who have more than one degree is if they should evaluate all or only the highest degree. In my opinion, the answer to this question is determined by how risk averse you are. I know people who have evaluated only their highest degree e.g Masters and it worked out well and they had no issues during the express entry process. I also know others (like myself) who evaluated all degrees e.g both Bachelors and Masters. Personally, I decided to evaluate both degrees because the WES ECA cost is the same irrespective of the number of degrees being evaluated so I figured I had nothing to lose. Also, the WES ECA is valid for 5 years and is sometimes (I have not had need for it yet) required within Canada which is why I took the decision to evaluate both degrees.
Contacting WES can sometimes be a pain due to the high volume of cases they handle. If you need to contact WES, you can do so via phone (WES customer service is available by phone at (+1) 416-972-0070 (Canada only)) or email (https://www.wes.org/ca/contact-us/). Remember to include your WES reference number on all communications.
For more information, see – https://www.wes.org/ca/eca/
To read your ECA report and know how many points will be awarded for your degree, see HERE. As mentioned earlier, your score is dependent on if you are applying alone or with a spouse. If applying with a spouse, i strongly recommend for the ECA to be completed for your spouse as well so as to boost the scores because an evaluated degree for a single applicant has higher scores than the same degree for an applicant with a spouse.