Social Work Migration Project

Credential Recognition and Licensure


Our research has shown that the process of credential recognition and licensing can be a real barrier. Participants expressed frustration with the process of applying due to challenges around acquiring documentation and the cost of the applications. Some participants shared that self-advocacy was an asset in making these applications.

For more information on the results of our research click here to read our article, “A Complicated Welcome”.

To learn more about immigration and credential recognition, please view the slide show below, developed for the Knowledge Exchange Forum in Halifax on November 21, 2014.

KEF Licensure and Credentials from Kate Em

Process for Recognition of Foreign Credentials

*This information is offered for informational purposes only and is valid as of 20 March 2015. Please confirm the information by referring directly to the websites linked on this page.

Atlantic, Central, Western & Northern Regions (Except Québec & British Columbia)

Except for Québec & British Columbia, internationally educated social workers must have their credentials recognized by the Canadian Association of Social Workers and then apply to a provincial regulator for a licence if applicable:

There are two steps to this process:

  1. Submit your transcript, description of your courses, field practice descriptions, syllabi and information about your educational institution, along with a fee of $400 to the Canadian Association of Social Workers for approval. The decision of the CASW can be appealed if you feel that your credentials were not recognized correctly.
  2. Once your credentials have been recognized, you must apply to the association or college in the province you will immigrate to, if social work is a regulated profession in that province or territory. Each association has a unique process, with different fees and applications. In most provinces, there is one association which provides services to members and is responsible for the regulation of social work. In Prince Edward Island and British Columbia there are two separate organizations for member services and regulation:

Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers

New Brunswick Association of Social Workers

Prince Edward Island Association of Social Workers (Member Services)

PEI Social Work Registration Board (Regulatory)

British Columbia Association of Social Workers (Member Services)

BC College of Social Workers* (Regulatory)

Alberta College of Social Workers

Saskatchewan Association of Social Workers

Manitoba College of Social Workers

Manitoba has transitioned to a “College” on 1st of April, 2015. Read about what this means for social workers in Manitoba in this article by the Winnipeg Free Press.

Ontario Association of Social Workers

Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers

Yukon, Northwest & Nunavut Territories**

* In British Columbia, social workers with a degree from outside of North America must apply to the International Credential Evaluation Service to arrange for a basic report. When this report has been forwarded to the BC College of Social Workers by ICES, additional information may be required by the College and will be requested. Social Workers from the USA must have received a degree accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and approved by the College.

** Social Work is only a regulated profession in the Northwest Territories, the Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada is currently advocating for regulation of the profession in the other two territories.


In Québec, the profession of social work is regulated by the Order of Social Workers and Marriage & Family Therapists of Québec (OTSTCFQ).

In 2009, the OTSTCFQ developed regulation for credential recognition and registration and determines the elements required to obtain a licence to practice social work in Québec.

Before being registered, social workers who have obtained their education outside of Canada, France and the United States are required to obtain a comparative evaluation of their studies at the Ministry of Immigration, Diversity & Inclusion (MIDI). This evaluation shows, in a general sense, how the education compares to the standard in Québec. You must complete this evaluation to make your application.

Following the evaluation, social workers who want to practice in Québec must submit their application directly to the OTSTCFQ.

For social workers educated in France:

In 2008, Québec developed the Québec-France Agreement on the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications; social work is covered under this agreement. Social work graduates from France automatically qualify for a license with the OTSTCFQ without having their education assessed by the Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion.


The Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers requires that internationally educated social workers submit an application for membership, which will be approved by the Board of Examiners. Social workers who have just graduated must be supervised by a registered social worker and complete what is referred to as “candidacy” for two years. Internationally educated social workers are also expected to complete a period of candidacy. The length of the candidacy period depends on the social worker’s education and experience and it is also decided by the Board of Examiners. This period of candidacy can be appealed by the social worker.

Auxiliary Boards & Associations

There are other groups which may be of interest to migrant social workers:

Nova Scotia Association of Black Social Workers (membership open to any social worker of African descent)

The NS ABSW is a chapter of the US based National Association of Black Social Workers

The Association of Social Work Boards

This association is dedicated to social work regulation in the United States and Canada. You can learn more about the regulation of social work in the province you intend to move to by visiting their website here.