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12 FAQ by Intl CPA Candidates

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12 Frequently Asked Questions From International CPA CandidatesWith Full Answers From Stephanie Ng, CPA*

By Stephanie Ng, CPA* 4/20/2011

IntroductionThanks for downloading my mini-book for international CPA candidates. While this is not a full guide on how to apply and study for the CPA exam, these questions are typical ones I got from thousands of candidates (in your same shoes) around the world. I have also listed out the links relevant to international candidates at the end of this book for your easy reference. Please take a moment to read through them and should you have any questions, please post them on this page dedicated to readers of this minibook. Best of luck to your journey towards the CPA. Warm regards, Stephanie

* About Stephanie: Stephanie is the publisher of, a CPA exam preparation site that answers candidates questions from CPA exam application, CPA review course comparison, CPA exam tactics, licensing and life after becoming a CPA. Feel free to post your own questions at Stephanie is a financial analyst by profession, specializing in strategic planning in a global financial institution based in North America. She is a CPA but not in public practice.

General Questions On Where To ApplyStephanies notes: the USA is pretty funny in a way that lots of licenses are generally granted by individual states instead of USA as a whole. The CPA qualification is one example. Instead of applying for the CPA exam at a federal government agency, candidates go to the Board of Accountancy of each state for the application. To make things more confusing the requirements are slightly different from one another and this causes a lot of headache to international candidates. Ive got tons and tons of questions regarding which state to apply. Here are a few classic examples:

I wanted to ask you if you know whether is it obligatory to sit for the exam in the same state that you reside in, or if any state will work?Answer: If you have solid plans to practice public accounting in your state, then yes, its better to register in your own state. Otherwise, you might find that it is easier to get qualified in some other states because each state has different requirements in terms of education and experience. If you get an out-of-state license, you might still be able to practice public accounting in your own state while registering in other states, but it will depend on whether that state is considered a substantially equivalent state. Long story short, I guess the answer is, no, it is not obligatory to sit for the exam in your own state, but it has some advantages.

I just want to know which state I should register for exams? I am Canadian citizen and CGA.Answer: Hi, if you have fulfilled the 150 semester hours you can either go through Illinois or Colorado. Illinois is better because it is considered a substantially equivalent state. It is also the most popular among Canadian accountants as far as I know.

For Illinois, my site may look confusing because the state board has been changing rule back and forth. They used to allow those fulfilled 150 semester hour to automatically get the CPA certificate (not full license, but good enough for you to use the CPA title in your business card with some restrictions) without any working experience. Lots of Canadian CAs go through IL because of that. Then, earlier in 2010 they announced that they are taking away the certificate so everyone needs to have at least one year of experience, to the dismay of many aspiring CPAs. Then, as recently as the end of June 2010, they are postponing this change until 2 years later (July 1, 2012). So in short, it should work for you, for now. Please check out the Illinois CPA requirements for details. Lastly, you might be able to get qualified for a simpler version of CPA exam known as IQEX as long as you get your bachelor/masters degree in Canada or other countries with reciprocal agreements with the US. Please click the link and see if it applies to you.

Hi Stephanie, I have done my bachelors and masters in commerce (, ( from India with three years of work experience and currently pursuing M.B.A course in London I am quite confused to select a state among Florida, Delaware, Colorado, California and Massachussets. Can you please help me with your suggestion in which state I should apply for or should go for any other state.Answer: It looks like you can probably fulfill the 150 semester hours with a M.comm, but knowing India has a 3-year university program it will be up to the foreign credential evaluation agencies to decide. you can check out the WES Indian policy for reference because apparently the decision also depends on which school and what grade you get from the B.comm. You can get the link from this page. Delaware has easy CPA exam requirements but a pretty tough licensing requirements, so be careful (e.g. they only recognize work that is verified by the US CPA, not CPA anywhere).

Not too familiar with Florida but I heard its a hassle to get a license there, even for US nationals. For Colorado, if you dont have 150 semester hours youll need to work in PUBLIC accounting. So have to be careful also. CA and MA should be more friendly so you can take a closer look.

Hi Stephanie, I am from Pakistan and wish to go for CPA in 2011.i have done B.COM (2 years) and CA intermediate(2 years) as well as I have 4 years of Experience in Ernst &Young under CPA from US. plz tell me which state is suitable for me to apply. Thanx.Answer: I understand that a 3-year B.Com degree (say from India) is typically equivalent to an associate degree. Not sure how 2-year degree is treated but I would think it is likely to be something similar to an associate degree. If this is the case, then Delaware will be your only choice. Delaware is very strict with respect to working experience requirement. They need 4 years of experience for associate degree holders, but the greatest thing is that you are spot on. So looks like there shouldnt be a problem.

Fulfilling The RequirementsStephanies note: most states require 150 credit hours (~ 5 years of university, generally means 1 4-year bachelor degree + 1 year of masters degr ee) while a handful of states are fine with 120 credit hours. For international students graduating in countries awarding 3 -year degrees, this could cause some problems because a 3-year degree is generally considered an associate degree in the US i.e. n ot enough for qualification purposes. There are ways to work around it, for now, before all states close up the loopholes. A note on experience requirements: please be aware that the CPA exam is only part of the CPA licensing process. You need to fulfill the required experience as well so please do make sure you are able to fulfill that before spending your time applying and studying for the exam.

Hi Stephanie, I am interested in giving the CPA Exam asap, but I have a B.Com degree from India, which I know is not equivalent to the CPA requirements as I dont want give it from Delaware because of the 4 year work requirement. So Im thinking of doing a CMA from Canada. But will that help me reach the 150 hr requirement?

Answer: Hello, I think CMA *may* help you accumulate the 150 credit hours (but it depends on which state you are applying to), but it will not help to make your degree from say 3 years to 4 years so probably doesnt work I am afraid.

Hello Stephanie I am from MD and I got my education evaluation done. I got 150 credit hours and FACS said that I qualify to sit for CPA exam. But MD has one more requirement to sit for CPA exam. It says that we should have 3 semester hrs in U.S. Business Law and U.S. Federal Income tax.

Virginia has 120 to sit for CPA exam and 150 to get the license. I have two options here: 1) Either I have to do CPA in MD by satisfying its requirements that costs me additional $1200.00 OR 2) Write CPA from VA as I satisfy their requirements. Me and my husband already decided not to take license as we are not interested in practice right away. I would like to finish CPA and work in companies. Can you please advise me which one I have to follow?Answer: If you are just getting the CPA for credentails only, why not get it from Illinois? I think their requirement is more general without specific course requirement like Maryland (please call them up to make sure though). Also, you dont need to fulfill working requirements to get the CPA license which is good for you to get the wall certificate and become a member of AICPA. If you decide to get a full license, you can also do it in Illinois by fulfilling one year of working experience.

Hi Stephanie, I have 4 years working experience (audit) of public accounting in Hong Kong, will they recognize experiences gained in Hong Kong? Thanks in advance!Hello, it will depend on whether your experience can be verified by your supervisor who is a US CPA license holder. Some states are more flexible and recognize verification from CPA equivalent (i.e. essentially means CAs from Canada or CA/CPAs from Australia). If you apply through Indiana, they are even more flexible only need verification from any CPA license holder you know. Otherwise, it might be difficult to get your experience recognized even though you work at Big 4 but I would think that at least some partners / senior manager / managers would have a CPA from the US? Best of luck!

Hi stephanie, I m doing MBA finance and i want to do CPA after doing MBA finance but i want to know is there any possibility of exemption of my courses for CPA program.Answer: If you have a MBA, you are probably able to fulfill the 150 credit hours so you wont need any exemptions unless you dont get the minimum accounting courses. There are no exemptions as far as I know but you can

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