CALA program welcomes foreign-trained architects

The 11 provincial and territorial Canadian Architectural Licensing Authorities (CALA), are pleased to announce the launch of a program called the new Broadly Experienced Foreign Architects Program (BEFA). This program offers experienced foreign-trained architects an alternative path to registration and licensure in Canada.

Several years ago, the architectural profession recognized that it did not have an effective national program in place to assess the qualifications of internationally trained and licensed architects.

And now, the Government of Canada is making it easier for internationally trained architects to find jobs in their fields through support for a newly launched program. Speaking at the recent International Interior Design (IIDEX) Canada Expo and Conference, the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, helped to launch the federally funded Broadly Experienced Foreign Architects (BEFA) Program and underscored the importance of helping skilled newcomers succeed in the Canadian job market.

“Our government’s top priorities are job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity, and we recognize that internationally trained professionals help fill skills shortages in key occupations,” said Minister Finley. “This is why we are working with partners like Architecture Canada so that newcomers can find meaningful work in their fields faster and help to contribute to Canada’s economy.”

The BEFA program was created through over $1.9 million in federal funding, announced by Minister Finley in September 2010. This program will streamline the licensing process for internationally trained architects through a national online assessment tool and standard interview process.  Internationally trained architects will be able to find out sooner whether their qualifications meet Canadian standards of practice, or if they need to undergo further training and skills upgrading.

“The architectural community sees great benefits from having internationally trained architects licensed as professionals in Canada. With it comes new connections, ideas and perspectives that can only enrich our profession, said Sheena Sharp, President, Ontario Association of Architects. “We would like to thank Minister Finley and her officials at Human Resources and Skill Development Canada for their financial support in the creation of the BEFA program. We believe that this program offers foreign trained architects a fair and effective process to present their work experience and competencies to be assessed against pan-Canadian standards of competency for practice in Canada.”

Under the Pan-Canadian Framework for the Assessment and Recognition of Foreign Qualifications, the Government of Canada is working with the provinces and territories and other partners, such as regulatory bodies, to improve foreign credential recognition.  

The BEFA Program is an example of how the Framework is bringing meaningful change to the way that newcomers’ qualifications are assessed in Canada. Through pilot versions of this program, several candidates were successful in becoming certified architects in Canada.

With funding from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and the support of Architecture Canada, CALA has developed a fair and streamlined program to assess the work experience and competencies of foreign architects against pan-Canadian standards of competency for practice in Canada.

It is a three-step process, which includes the review of an architect’s eligibility to apply, the completion of an on-line assessment tool and an interview with registered architects.

The eligibility criteria include:

*an architecture education/degree;

*registration/licensure as an architect in a foreign jurisdiction;

*demonstration of seven years experience of post-registration; licensure experience in architecture and a minimum of six months of relevant Canadian architectural work experience

The Canadian Architecture Certification Board (CACB) has agreed to administer the BEFA program for CALA. More information on the BEFA program and the eligibility requirements can be found at And to learn more about Canada’s Economic Action Plan, please visit