Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCICs) play a crucial role in simplifying the complicated, and sometimes confusing, immigration process. Because of the importance of the role of RCICs and the impact of their work on people, the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC) requires all prospective RCICs to successfully complete the Entry-to-Practice Exam (EPE) before becoming licensed to provide immigration consulting services. The purpose of this licensing exam is to ensure that RCICs have the requisite knowledge and professionalism to provide effective and ethical service to those who need it.
What is the EPE?
The EPE is a three-hour multiple-choice exam that candidates must pass to become a licensed RCIC. The EPE allows the CICC to evaluate each candidate’s minimum level of knowledge and competency. The EPE is a closed book exam consisting of 135 questions and covers the following competencies in which the RCIC must be proficient and knowledgeable:
1. Foundational Knowledge
2. Case Management
3. Legal Research and Informatics
4. Business Management and Leadership
5. IRB and Administrative Tribunals
7. Cultural Competence
8. Communication, Counselling, and Advocacy
9. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Evidence-Based Practice
The CICC’s Candidate Guide provides information about each of these sections, including what percentage of the exam they comprise. A greater breakdown of these competencies can be found here.
Who Can Register for the EPE?
Because of the nature of providing immigration and consulting services, the CICC requires that candidates meet specific requirements to be eligible to write the EPE. Candidates wishing to write the EPE must be 18 years of age or older and must have completed either the Graduate Diploma Program (through Queen’s University or the Université de Montreal)
, or the Immigration Practitioner Program (IPP) within the last three years prior to their intended EPE date. Note that IPPs ended December 31, 2022 so the last date an IPP candidate will be able to register and write the EPE is December 31, 2025.
When and How Can Candidates Register for the EPE?
To ensure that you can write the EPE when you want, candidates need to plan and have all the pieces in place to properly register and make the required payments. Being aware of EPE dates, planning for completing the registration documents and submitting them on time, and budgeting for fees is important. The EPE is held four times in each calendar year: March, June, September, and December. Candidates who meet the requirements to write the EPE can register online on the CICC website and can choose to write the EPE online or in-person at an exam centre.
The most important things to know if for the purpose of planning is that applications to write the EPE must be submitted at least five weeks before the chosen exam date, and that candidates must also pay a non-refundable application fee of $75. Once the application is accepted by the CICC, candidates must pay the exam fee. The fee for first-time writers is $425. This fee is waived for first-time writers who are licensed paralegals. Fees must be paid within 72 hours of being invoiced otherwise the exam application may be denied.
Candidates who feel like they need more time to prepare may also defer their EPE by completing a Deferral Form and paying a $75 fee. Deferral requests must be made at least two days before the date of the exam.
How Can Candidates Prepare for the EPE?
The best way to prepare for the EPE is to know what to expect on exam day. As a first step, candidates should familiarize themselves with the Essential Competencies for RCIC Practice. These competencies inform the makeup of the exam and are critical to success on the EPE. Candidates should also review the example questions provided by the CICC. Each multiple-choice question will provide candidates with four answers, only one of which will be correct. Candidates must select the best answer. There is no penalty for incorrect choices, so candidates should answer all questions even if they are unsure of the correct response. By doing sample questions, a candidate will gain an understanding of the way questions are written, how to approach applying knowledge with critical thinking skills, and be better informed about what to expect on the EPE.
Candidates may also consider developing a detailed study plan in the weeks leading up to the EPE. An effective study plan will account for the large amount of material to review and study, and also accommodate for each candidate’s own study habits and personal/professional commitments. Candidates should also consider setting aside time within their study plan for practice exams. Practice exams are a useful way to simulate exam conditions of the EPE and can help candidates become familiar with answering questions on key topics within a time limit.
Emond Exam Prep’s CICC Practice Exam offers two 135-question practice exams to allow candidates to familiarize themselves with the format, apply their knowledge and identify gaps, and practice critical thinking. Practice exams will also allow candidates to develop and practice time management and exam writing techniques.
When Can Candidates Expect Results?
Other than writing the EPE, candidates often find the most stressful part of the licensing process is the wait for their results. The CICC releases results roughly eight weeks after each exam sitting. Candidates will receive either a pass or a fail. Since each exam has a different set of passing criteria, candidates must receive a total score that is higher than the final passing mark established for that sitting of the EPE. Details on the scoring system can be found in the CICC’s Candidate Guide.
Hopefully, all the preparation and hard work up into preparing for the EPE pays off with a pass. Unfortunately, even the best prepared candidate can have an off day and be unsuccessful. For candidates who fail the EPE, they may re-write the exam at a subsequent sitting. The fee for a subsequent exam application is $325. The CICC permits candidates to attempt the EPE four times. These attempts must be completed within three years of the candidate’s graduation from the requisite training program. If unsuccessful after four attempts, the candidate will have to meet further requirements before being allowed to retake the exam.
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