Discrepancies in the evaluation of foreign educational credentials: an obstacle in immigration to Canada.
Let me describe a hypothetical scenario: you and a friend graduated as Bachelor of Laws outside of Canada; in Brazil, to be more precise, and some time later, thought about starting a Canadian permanent residency process. It is very common for economic class programs, such as programs under the Express Entry system, to consider the candidate's educational level as a requirement or as a classification factor. When researching on the Canadian government website "Educational credential assessment (ECA) for Express Entry: What it is", you discover that only a few institutions are authorized to issue this report and that there is no specific institution for a bachelor’s degree in law assessment. Then, for different reasons, you choose the "World Education Services" (WES) and your frien
d chooses the "International Qualifications Assessment Service" (IQAS).
With all due respect, it would be logical to expect that the IRCC would provide guidance to these institutions so that diplomas from the same course and university would receive the same evaluation. Perhaps the IRCC even provides this guidance. However, the WES reports in the Canadian Equivalenc
y Summary that your bachelor’s degree in law is a "Bachelor's degree (four years)", while the IQAS reports "professional degree needed to practice in a licensed profession".
When these two people who graduated from the same course and university see different results, the one who chose WES becomes extremely insecure, obviously, and returns to the Canadian government website on the ECA report to consult section "4 What your report means"; chooses the "Comprehensive Ranking System" (which is the Express Entry points system) and when clicking on "see points" becomes even more confused. In their mind, the question remains about what the Officer will consider? Only "Bachelor's degree (four years)"? "Bachelor of Laws" (even if it is not explicitly stated in the report)? Should they put "professional degree needed to practice in a licensed profession" and explain that, even though the WES summary did not mention "Bachelor of Laws", the "major" is listed as law?
In my years working in the Canadian immigration field, I have seen people who used the WES report on their Brazilian law degree, elected and received the points for "professional degree needed to practice in a licensed profession", and I have also heard reports of people who had their score adjusted to "Bachelor's degree", losing important points just because they chose the WES institution instead of IQAS. Nothing more.
This situation that I have described has already led to responses from the Canadian Federal Court. In Probortona v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2021 FC 1461 (CanLII), the treatment that the Officer gave to an ECA report on a Law degree obtained at De Montfort University, in England, was discussed. From the Probortona case, we highlight the following passage:
 I agree with the Applicant that the de
cision is unreasonable, as it lacks transparency and justification. The decision is not transparent with respect to which educational category the Officer placed the Applicant, or whether the Officer even assessed whether the Applicant possessed a “professional degree needed to practice in a licensed profession.”
 I also agree with the Applicant that Lakhanpal is analogous to this case. The evidence before the Officer was that the App
licant was a practicing Barrister in England and Wales. While the Officer found the Applicant had indicated she had a “Master’s degree,” the Officer ignored the second part of that selection: a “professional degree needed to practice in a licensed profession.” As a result, it is unclear why the Officer reasoned that the Applicant did not fall into this category by virtue of her qualifications. The information on the IRCC Webpage also sup
ports the Applicant’s position that she falls into this category, as it states: “A “first professional degree” prepares a person for a certain profession” and includes “Bachelor of Law.”
Although there is the possibility of judicial review, it would be beneficial for IRCC to (i) encourage institutions to reach a consensus, or (ii) provide more precise guidelines to ensure consistent evaluations of diplomas.
In brief, there is a real risk of individuals with the same qualifications from the same university being differentiated in terms of education and having different immigration opportunities based on the same diploma. This is certai
nly unfair, but it is a reality that IRCC, IQAS, and WES have ignored for 8 years. What are your thoughts on this matter?