CES Updates and FAQs Regarding COVID-19

As Canada is gradually reopening its economy, a limited number of our staff has been permitted to return to the office. Most of our team continues to process applications from their home, in an effort to continuously contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) as the majority of the UofT campus remains closed.

The nature of credential evaluation service work includes stages that may only be completed in person, including mail intake, physical document authentication, and all pick-up and delivery services.  This is work that cannot happen outside our CES office on the U of T campus.

As we support our clients in these difficult times, we would like to reassure you of our commitment toward quality, care, transparency, and accountability, and our utmost efforts toward minimizing the inconveniences caused.

Q. Are you Open?

Yes. CES has received permission for a limited number of our staff to return to the office, so we are once again able to receive and process physical mail, authenticate institutional documents, and issue paper copies of assessment reports. In addition, most of our team continues to process applications from their home, so although we have been facing delays because of pandemic-related constraints, we are fully operational and are doing our best to minimize their impact.

Q. Are you able to receive mail?

Yes. we are once again able to receive new packages at our main address (158 St-George St, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2V8) via regular mail and/or courier service. Please note that incoming mail will be processed sequentially.

Q. How do I check the status of my application?

You can follow the progress of your application on your online profile. There are six steps listed. Moreover, if your application was submitted after March 5, 2020, you also receive 6 email notifications from us as your application moves through the processing stages:

  • C0: Confirmation of Submission
  • C1: Confirmation of the credentials submitted for assessment
  • C2: Confirmation of the review of the required institutional documents
  • C3: Confirmation of authentication and acceptance of your application
  • C4: Confirmation of the issuance of an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report
  • C5: Confirmation of the dispatch of your ECA package

The Assessment Team always communicates with you in writing. If they need any further information from you or your former institution, they reach out to you without delay.

Q. My physical academic documents were received at your office before March 18, 2020. My online status marks stages 1 and 2 complete. Is my application affected?

Yes. All applications in progress are affected by our limited access our premises. We need some time to organize our transition back to the office. We will process the incoming mail in stages based on the order that applications were received. As we are getting access to our physical mail for the first time since mid-March, there are thousands of pieces of mail to sort through, so we are asking that you please continue to bear with us. It is going to take time for us to catch up on the backlog. We do, however, continue to conduct the review of your academic documents and provide an additional processing queue if your former academic institution can issue them electronically. For more information, please check: Q. What are the alternative solutions you are adopting to proceed with my application remotely?

Q. Can I get a refund?

Please be advised that all fees are final and non-refundable. Once you have submitted your application, you have acknowledged and provided consent to having read and understood the Terms and Conditions.
If you still wish to cancel the assessment of your credential(s) without refund, please e-mail us at ces@learn.utoronto.ca

We thank you for your patience and understanding. Once more, we sincerely regret the constraints the current circumstances are placing on the processing of your file and are doing all we can to minimize their impact.

Q. My physical academic documents were received at your office after March 18, 2020. Have you received them?

We are once again able to receive new packages at our main address (158 St-George St, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2V8) via regular mail and/or courier service. Please note that incoming mail will be processed sequentially. All mail packages received during the time our office was closed are gradually forwarded to our office. There are thousands of pieces of mail to sort through, so we are asking that you please continue to bear with us. It is going to take time for us to catch up on the backlog. We will communicate with you in writing as soon as we get to your package.

Q. May I drop off my documents myself?

No. The building is strictly closed to the public. We must remain in compliance with instructions issued by government authorities and the University of Toronto while we continue through the pandemic. If you have an institutionally sealed envelope in your possession, please arrange for courier delivery or send it by regular mail. We have thousands of mail packages to sort through, so please bear with us. We are doing all we can to minimize the delays in confirming its receipt with you in writing.

Q. Do you still accept electronic transcripts?

Absolutely. However, they have to come from the academic institution itself.

CES accepts official academic records that are issued electronically and transmitted via established, secure inter-institutional means for review. If your former academic institution wants to use this digital means, please ask them to send the official academic records to ces.transcripts@utoronto.ca.

The electronic transcript must be sent via an institutional email address belonging to the appropriate office/department/unit that is in charge of academic document issuance or verification. Our office will then authenticate the electronic transcript according to our internal authentication procedures. Once we complete this, as we do at every stage of your application, we will confirm with you in writing.

Q. What are the alternative solutions you are adopting to proceed with my application remotely?

CES continues implementing alternative, digital measures for the Authentication Review (stage 3) of your application on a case-by-case basis if you submitted it between December 2019 and March 2020. Please note that we have also updated our official academic records requirement to include electronically delivered academic record from March onwards, so we invite you to inquire with your former academic institution about this digital means.   

  • Official Electronic Academic Records

Official academic records that are issued electronically and transmitted via established, secure inter-institutional means are accepted for review. If you wish to partake of this digital alternative, even if we have already received physical copies of your transcripts in our offices, you may contact your academic institution to request that they send your academic documents to us directly to ces.transcripts@utoronto.ca.

The electronic transcript must be sent via an institutional email address belonging to the appropriate office/department/unit that is in charge of academic document issuance or verification. 

Important Notes:

We are currently reviewing applications and authenticating physical institutional documents sequentially,  according to the order in which the documents were received at our office.

A parallel authentication process is in place for applications with electronic institutional documents received, according to the order in which they were delivered to our designated email address.

Although we deeply appreciate the impact of the ECA report on your immigration, education, employment and professional licensing efforts, we are unable to grant priority processing requests while we are doing all we can to catch up with the backlog.

Q. Can you expedite the processing of my application?

Regrettably,  no, we cannot. In order to maintain equitable access and our unwavering commitment to quality, client care, transparency and accountability, we continue to process applications in the order in which they were received. No priority processing request can be granted. We know the impact our work has on your professional, academic and immigration needs. Each of us is deeply aware of the stakes involved for you, as well as the pressing deadlines all of our applicants are facing, so we are mobilizing additional resources towards processing applications as quickly as possible.

Q. My institution is temporarily closed and cannot send electronic transcripts. What can I do?

Please rest assured that we will get to the review of your physical institutional documents in sequence – there is no action for you to take. As we have received permission for a limited number of our staff to return to the office, we are mobilizing additional human resources toward efforts to catch up.

We will resume the review of physical documents received at office sequentially. As we are getting access to our physical documents for the first time since mid-March, and there are thousands of documents requiring authentication, we are asking that you please continue to bear with us. It is going to take time for us to catch up on the backlog, and we are grateful for your continued patience and trust.

Q. Can you assess my file based on my own scanned documents only? Can you make exceptions during this time?

No. CES ECA reports give immigration authorities, employers, educational institutions and regulatory bodies confidence in three elements: the recognition status of your program and institution, the authenticity of your particular documents, and the comparability of these credentials in the Canadian context. We strive to accommodate and remove barriers whenever possible, but we cannot compromise the integrity of the process by waiving the official document requirement. This quality assurance is the very foundation on which you have placed your trust in the Comparative Education Service.

Q. Have the processing times been affected due to the operational restrictions?

Yes. Regrettably, processing times had to be paused for the past 5 months for those applications where official transcripts were issued in paper copy, as we did not have access to our premises to review them.

Thanks to the alternative measures, we have been able to proceed and finalize thousands of applications.

As we resume partial in-office operations and maintain a separate queue for electronically issued official transcripts, we are doing our best to minimize the delays all of our esteemed applicants have encountered. We thank you for your continued patience during this time and will reach out to you in writing with updates on your particular application as soon as they become available.

Q. Will IRCC, academic institutions, professional bodies, and employers accept the electronic ECA Report, even if it is “unofficial”?

Yes. Official CES ECA reports are printed on security paper; they will be issued and sent to you as we now have limited access to the premises. However, we need some time to organize our transition back to the office. We are getting access to our premises for the first time since mid-March, so we ask that you please continue to bear with us. It is going to take time for us to catch up on the backlog of physical ECA reports to be issued.

Please note that the building remains strictly closed to the public until further notice. This means your ECA report package will still be prepared and continue to be held at our premises until we are given permission to open access to our valued customers. We are suspending our 30-day pick-up policy so no ECA Report package will be shredded. If you wish for your package to be couriered instead, please note that you may contact us by e-mail at ces@learn.utoronto.ca to receive instructions on how to make the request and pay the related service fee.

In the interim, you may submit your electronic ECA report as part of your immigration, employment, and academic applications. IRCC welcomes our e-reports for the entire duration of the office closures.

We also communicate promptly and proactively with institutional recipients about these interim measures. If the employer / regulatory body / academic institution to which you are submitting your ECA report requires a confirmation of its validity, please ask them to e-mail us at ces@learn.utoronto.ca.

Q: I am having trouble obtaining academic records or transcripts from my academic institution. Will my application be suspended or canceled?

We fully acknowledge that people may have challenges obtaining their official academic records. We assure you that no applications will be suspended or canceled due to delays you may experience while trying to get your documents to support your CES application.

Q: Has IRCC issued any information that I should know about?

Depending on your situation, you may wish to consult the IRCC website directly. In particular, please visit this page for important information related to IRCC processing during COVID-19.

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