B.C. act to streamline foreign credential recognition comes into effect July 1

Edana Robitaille
Published: June 28, 2024

British Columbia’s International Credentials Recognition Act will come into effect on July 1.

The Act makes several changes to how international credentials are recognized in the province and streamline the process for applicants. Specifically, it removes Canadian work experience requirements, language testing for some applicants and additional fees for international applicants.

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It will impact 29 professions ranging from engineers to accountants, real estate brokers, healthcare professionals and more. The province consulted 18 regulatory bodies to draft the legislation, which was passed by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia last November.

The full list of occupations impacted under the Act include:

  • registered music teacher
  • professional engineer
  • professional teaching certificate holder
  • land surveyor
  • early childhood educator
  • landscape architect
  • early childhood educator assistant
  • applied science technologist
  • conditional teaching certificate holder
  • certified technician
  • social worker
  • veterinarian
  • registered clinical social worker
  • lawyer
  • professional biologist
  • architect
  • applied biology technician
  • notary public
  • registered biology technologist
  • emergency medical assistant, including paramedics
  • professional geoscientist
  • chartered professional accountant
  • registered professional forester
  • associate real estate broker
  • registered forest technologist
  • managing real estate broker
  • professional agrologist
  • real estate representative
  • technical agrologist

Work experience requirements

Through the Act, B.C. says it will streamline international credential recognition by removing unnecessary Canadian work experience requirements. The Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills says it is “working with regulatory authorities to understand current approaches and identify any existing Canadian work experience requirements that would be prohibited under the new regulations.”

However, the province says the superintendent of international credential recognition may grant an exemption to a regulator with a valid reason for requiring Canadian work experience.

Further, there is still a one-year transition period for the work experience requirement. For example, on January 1, 2025, regulations defining prohibited Canadian work experience and outlining exemptions come into effect and prohibition on requiring Canadian work experience comes into effect on July 1, 2025.

Language requirements

Applicants in the selected occupations will no longer be required to provide new English-language test results if they have already submitted valid results.

According to the legislation, this applies to internationally trained applicants who have submitted valid language testing results as part of the application for certification.

Still, language tests may be required if no determination has been made in the international credential assessment process, or if five years have passed since the applicant submitted their application to a regulatory authority.

Other changes

The Act also states that international applicants will not be required to pay more to their regulatory body than domestic applicants and that the province will appoint a superintendent of international credential recognition. This individual will work to address procedural issues in the system and work to address them.

International credential recognition in Canada

International credential recognition is required by any newcomer who wishes to pursue a career in a licensed profession.

Licenses are typically issued by provincial regulatory authorities such as those that oversee skilled trades or healthcare professions. Because they are provincial, requirements for recognition vary depending on where the applicant lives.

The process of getting recognition has been heavily criticized by newcomers due to the complexity, time commitment and cost involved. A 2022 report by Employment and Social Development Canada found several prominent issues, including a lack of information for newcomers, especially in the pre-arrival stage.

To help, Canada’s federal government has taken initiatives to make it easier for newcomers to have their credentials recognized. For example, it announced in its Fall Economic Statement 2023 that it would spend $50 million on the Foreign Credential Recognition Program, with half going to professions in skilled trades and half to the healthcare sector.

This is in addition to a $115 million investment included in Budget 2022.

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