Foreign Qualifications Recognition
Many occupations in B.C. are regulated. This means that, in order to work in the occupation, you need a licence issued by a provincial regulatory authority. Newcomers to B.C. who have qualifications in a regulated field from outside of Canada will need to have those qualifications and experience assessed in B.C. This process is called Foreign Qualifications Recognition (FQR). Through FQR, regulators confirm that applicants have the necessary qualifications and issue a licence, or they will identify any gaps that need to be addressed before the applicant can be licensed.
Are you qualified?
Whether or not you need your qualifications assessed depends on two factors: your occupation, and the country where you obtained your qualifications.
Over 200 occupations in B.C. are regulated. In order to work in one of these professions, you will need to be certified and registered for the occupation. Each regulated occupation has different standards, and each one has a regulatory authority to manage these standards. These authorities will review your qualifications for certification. Find out more about regulated occupations in B.C. through WelcomeBC Job Profiles for Immigrants.
In non-regulated occupations, the employer determines if your qualifications meet their needs. No additional authority is required to recognize your qualifications. If you are interested in a non-regulated occupation, the employer may perform an assessment of your education and credentials, as well as an assessment of your work experience.
Getting qualifiedIf a regulator identifies a gap in your qualifications that prevents you from being licensed in your occupation, there may be options for specific training to help meet the required qualification. This ‘bridge’ training is designed to assist internationally trained workers in filling gaps in their qualifications so they can meet the B.C. requirements for practice and to be licensed.
If you would like to have your qualifications in a regulated occupation recognized, there are some steps you should take:
- Contact the regulatory body for your occupation. Someone there will help you understand the specific requirements to be licensed in that occupation in B.C. More information on the regulatory authorities in B.C. can be found within the WelcomeBC Job Profiles.
- Complete an application form and provide key documentation. Required documents will be different for each occupation, but will often include: transcripts from educational programs and schools, references, employment history and a resume.
- Provide your education credentials for review. There are a few options for reviewing your education. A regulated authority may assess your credentials internally, or they may use an external organization to do so. The International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) is one service that you may use to review your credentials for a fee. Note: an ICES assessment is not always required, contact the regulatory authority to confirm if this assessment is necessary.
- Coordinate with regulatory authorities. As part of the assessment process you may be required to take exams, and perform interviews. The regulatory authority can help you clarify any questions you may have about the process.
- Pay any necessary fees. There is no fixed cost for the assessment process; the fees you will need to pay will depend on the occupation and the criteria you need to meet. The regulatory authority will be able to help you to estimate what these costs are.
- Be determined. The certification process may take a few weeks to several months to complete, which is why contacting the regulatory body for your occupation before you come to B.C. will help you to start working in BC as soon as possible. Ensure you respond promptly to all enquiries and follow through with all requests from regulatory bodies. The process can be complex, but is manageable through patience and determination.
If you want to work in a non-regulated occupation, you do not have to be registered with a regulatory body.
Before you come
Are you planning to move to British Columbia? Before you make the move, check that your qualifications will be recognized when you get here. Follow the steps below to increase your chances of being employed in your occupation.
- Find out if your occupation is regulated in B.C. If it is, find out about the criteria that you must meet in order to become certified and work legally in B.C. Visit the WelcomeBC Job Profiles to see whether your occupation is regulated.
- Explore the labour market. Is there a demand for your occupation? What is the average salary? This information can help you identify the regions and employers that are most likely to have available jobs in your occupation. The B.C. 2025 Labour Market Outlook provides more information.
- Collect documents. Start requesting school transcripts and other documents that may be required by regulatory bodies or employers. It will be easier to obtain these documents before you leave your home country.
- Apply online. In some cases, regulatory bodies and employers may allow you to submit applications online before you come to B.C.
- Develop your skills. If your research suggests that you need to develop your skills or knowledge in order to work in B.C., find out if there is any training you can take before you arrive here.
- Learn English. The ability to speak, read and write English will be essential to your success. Make sure you satisfy the English language standards that have been established for certification or employment in your occupation.
During your transition to B.C. you may consider an alternative career. An alternative career is a related career option, but may not be the specific one you trained for.
An engineer may work:
- in a lower qualification (e.g., as an engineering technician)
- with similar skills in different industry (e.g., as an applied science technician)
- in a different role in the same industry (e.g., as a project manager for an engineering firm)
Alternative careers could be a good choice for those awaiting certification, or upgrading an area of training. Choosing an alternative career allows immigrants the option to become employed faster, while earning valuable Canadian work experience.