Government in Canada Wants Better Access for Internationally Trained Accountants

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Legislation that that will standardize and ensure fairness for the licensing process in Ontario for internationally trained professionals, including accountants, was introduced on June 8 by Mike Colle, the Province's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, the Toronto Sun reports. Called the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, 2006, it will also speed up the time frame for assessing foreign credentials and create a commissioner to ensure regulatory bodies comply with the law.


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Brian Hunt, President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, issued a statement in support of the proposal saying, “We support helping internationally trained professionals use their skills in Ontario. Our province depends on developing a workforce that reflects the world in which we do business. We are especially pleased at the careful balance the government has struck between helping newcomers while maintaining the high level of professional standards required to protect Ontarians.”

In the U.S., licensing of internationally trained accountants is a function of state boards of accountancy and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) working with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA).

Accountants who are licensed by professional boards in Canada, Ireland, Mexico and Australia that have entered into mutual recognition agreements with the AICPA and NASBA are eligible in many states for CPA certification if they pass the International Qualification Examination (IQEX), prepared by the AICPA and administered by NASBA.

The mutual recognition agreements are in effect with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, CPA Australia, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland and the Instituto Mexicano De Contadores Publicos.

Individual states may have additional employment or educational requirements for licensing. Illinois is a “two-tier” state, for example, and grants a CPA license after successful completion of IQEX and one year of experience. No evaluation of academic credentials is required. In Arizona, which does not accept the IQEX, an internationally trained accountant must pass the CPA exam and meet the same education and experience requirements as a non-certified applicant, although education credit may be given after evaluation for study in international colleges and universities.

IQEX is a four and one-half hour objective test offered only in English and is administered as a computer based test, according to NASBA. The test is administered in November and scores are available in February of the following year.

Approximately 43 states listed on NASBA's Web site grant CPA certificates or licenses to Canadian and Australian Chartered Accountants and Australian Certified Practising Accountants. Approximately 30 states recognize Mexican Contadores Publicos Certificados and Irish Chartered Accountants. Holders of the CPA who pass IQEX are certified by individual provinces in Canada.

Ontario's Certified Management Accountants (CMA) congratulated the provincial government on its legislation, noting that one in six CMA Ontario graduates are internationally trained and the “number is quickly increasing." CMA Ontario sponsors an “bridging program”, evaluates transcripts at no charge and no longer requires entrants to their program to be employed.

Tory immigration critic Frank Klees called the legislation "long overdue", the Toronto Sun reports. "It's one thing to make an announcement," Klees said. "What remains to be seen is the degree to which the government ensures that the regulatory bodies follow through."


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