IRCC holds first-ever Express Entry STEM draw

Edana Robitaille
Published: July 5, 2023

IRCC has issued a second round of Express Entry invitations this week. 

This time, it was for candidates who are eligible for category-based selection in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations.

In total, 500 candidates were invited. Candidates required a minimum CRS score of 486.

Find out if you are eligible for Express Entry

This draw was expected as last week IRCC announced that the first-ever category-based selection Express Entry draw for those in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professions would take place this week.

IRCC has also confirmed it will have another round of invitations this week, inviting 1,500 healthcare workers to apply for permanent residence.

The most recent category-based draw was last week on June 28 and invited 500 healthcare workers with a minimum CRS score of 476, the lowest CRS score in any Express Entry draw so far in 2023.

In its surprise draw yesterday, July 4, IRCC also invited 700 candidates in an all-program draw with a minimum CRS score of 511. An all-program draw considers Express Entry candidates in the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Trades Program.

STEM occupations for category-based selection

In a recent news release, IRCC said by prioritizing the invitation of skilled newcomers with STEM experience, Canada aims to meet the growing demand for talent and fill key positions that contribute to the nation's economic growth and technological advancement.

Eligible occupations under the STEM draw include:

  • Architects
  • Architecture and science managers
  • Business systems specialists
  • Civil Engineers
  • Computer and information systems managers
  • Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)
  • Computer systems developers and programmers
  • Cybersecurity specialists
  • Data scientists
  • Database analysts and data administrators
  • Electrical and electronics engineers
  • Engineering managers
  • Industrial and manufacturing engineers
  • Information systems specialists
  • Land surveyors
  • Landscape Architects
  • Mathematicians, statisticians, and actuaries
  • Metallurgical and materials engineers
  • Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants, and program officers
  • Software developers and programmers
  • Software engineers and designers
  • Urban and land use planners
  • Web designers
  • Web developers and programmers

Sean Fraser, Canada's Minister of Immigration, announced on May 31 that IRCC had finalized new category-based selection criteria for Express Entry draws. The categories were chosen based on labour market projections and discussions with IRCC partners and stakeholders  as well as with provincial and territorial governments. They are as follows:

  • Healthcare
  • Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions
  • Trades, such as carpenters, plumbers, and contractors
  • Transport
  • Agriculture and agri-food
  • Strong French-language proficiency

Category-based selection draws have been expected since June 2022, when the Government of Canada made changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to allow for the selection of immigrants based on key attributes that support Canada's economic priorities, such as specific work experience to fill labour market gaps, or knowledge of French.

Find out if you are eligible for Express Entry

FAQ about the new category-based draws

Am I eligible if I have STEM work experience but am not an Express Entry candidate?

No. Candidates who receive invitations in a category-based selection draw must be in the Express Entry application pool through an Express Entry managed program such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program or the Canadian Experience Class.

Does my CRS score still matter?

IRCC says category-based rounds of invitations will rank candidates in the Express Entry pool who meet the category requirements and then invite top-ranking candidates to apply for permanent residence. As in a regular draw, eligible candidates will be ranked according to their CRS score. Those with higher scores are still the most likely to receive an ITA.

Additionally, IRCC will continue to hold regular all-program or program-specific draws so a high CRS score is still necessary to be considered for those.

How often will there be category-based selection draws?

IRCC has no mandate to hold Express Entry draws on a specific schedule or to invite a targeted number of candidates through any program or category. Draws are at the discretion of the Immigration Minister and occur based on the minister's mandate to support Canada's economic priorities and support the French language. Put another way, draws can occur any time, for any category.

Are the criteria different in each new category?

To be eligible for one of the five occupation-specific categories, all candidates must:

  • have accumulated, at least 6 months of continuous work experience (in Canada or abroad) within the past 3 years in a single occupation listed as eligible.
  • meet all requirements in the instructions for that round.

Candidates who are invited based on strong French language proficiency must have French-language test results that show a minimum score of 7 in all 4 language abilities (speaking, listening, reading, and writing) on the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens and meet all the requirements in the instructions for that round.

Find out if you are eligible for Express Entry

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