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Canada occasionally conducts STEM-specific draws through Express Entry. These draws invite candidates who work in eligible STEM occupations.

STEM-specific draws are part of Canada’s category-based Express Entry draws. They allow Canada to invite Express Entry candidates with the emphasis being on their work experience rather than their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score.

In order to be invited in a STEM-specific draw, you need to have at least six months of eligible work experience within the past three years. It does not matter whether this work was completed in Canada or abroad, however, your duties must align with those of the following National Occupation Classification (NOC) codes:

Occupation2021 NOC codeTEER category
Architecture and science managers200110
Business systems specialists212211
Civil Engineers213001
Computer and information systems managers200120
Computer engineers (except software engineers and designers)213111
Computer systems developers and programmers212301
Cybersecurity specialists212201
Data scientists212111
Database analysts and data administrators212231
Electrical and electronics engineers213101
Engineering managers200100
Industrial and manufacturing engineers213211
Information systems specialists212221
Land surveyors212031
Landscape Architects212011
Mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries212101
Metallurgical and materials engineers213221
Natural and applied science policy researchers, consultants and program officers414001
Software developers and programmers212321
Software engineers and designers212311
Urban and land use planners212021
Web designers212331
Web developers and programmers212341

You must first be eligible for Express Entry

The first step to getting invited to apply in a STEM-specific draw is to get in the Express Entry pool.

There are three possible programs you can be eligible for in order to join the Express Entry pool of candidates:

Generally, tech workers may be eligible for the FSW or the CEC. The FST is specifically for trades workers. Each program has its own set of eligibility requirements that span work experience, education, and language ability.

Important note on work experience

For both the CEC and the FSW, you need at least one year of continuous work experience for at least 30 hours per week in an occupation that Canada considers to be “skilled.” These occupations are classified under 0, 1, 2, and 3 of Canada’s Training Education Experience Responsibilities (TEER) categories. You can also make up this work experience in part time work as long as it adds up to 1,560 hours over two years, which is the equivalent of one year of full time work.

The key distinction between work experience requirements between the CEC and the FSW is that CEC requires at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada. Whereas the FSW does not. In fact, under the FSW, you can get PR without ever setting foot in Canada.

The reason why we’re emphasizing that you need to first be eligible for Express Entry in order to receive an invitation under a STEM-specific draw, is to make it clear that just because you have six months of work experience in a STEM occupation doesn’t make you eligible for Express Entry. You need to meet the work experience requirements for at least one of the programs first. If you have one year of work experience in an eligible STEM occupation, and you meet the other requirements of the CEC or the FSW, then you may be invited in a STEM-specific draw.

Recent STEM Express Entry draws

Express Entry STEM Draw Table

Draw #DateCRSInvitations
Draw #274Dec 8, 20234815,900
Draw #254July 5, 2023486500

Check your eligibility for Express Entry

If you are considering Express Entry as your pathway to Canada, you may wish to know whether you are eligible.

We’ve created a Canadian Immigration Quiz that will help you determine your eligibility for Express Entry, as well as other economic immigration programs.

As a skilled worker with a post-graduate degree and a high English or French proficiency, you may not need to wait for a STEM-specific draw in order to be invited to apply. Your CRS score may be high enough on its own to be invited in an all-program draw. If you would like to see what your CRS score may be, check out our Express Entry CRS Calculator. It will also tell you which Express Entry-managed programs you may be eligible for.

And if you really want to take advantage of all Moving2Canada has to offer, create a free account and get access to exclusive offers and content that will help you on your immigration journey. You’ll even get a checklist of action items to take so that your big move goes as smoothly as possible—as well as access to our newsletter. There’s no obligation, you can unsubscribe at any time.

When you sign up to our newsletter, we notify you whenever there’s an Express Entry draw or any new updates that might affect your immigration experience.

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Express Entry STEM-specific Draws FAQ

Answers to some frequently asked questions about STEM-Specific draws.

I have 6+ months of work experience in an eligible occupation, am I eligible?

Depends. You first must be eligible for an Express Entry-managed program: Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW); Canadian Experience Class (CEC); or Federal Skilled Trades Program (FST).

Assuming you won’t be eligible for FST (since it’s tailored to skilled trades workers), then you need either one year of eligible Canadian work experience (among other criteria) to qualify for the CEC. Or, you will need at least one year of eligible work experience in any country (again, among other criteria) to qualify for the FSW.

If you are eligible, and in all of your eligible work experience you have worked at least six months in an eligible STEM occupation, then you may be invited in a STEM-specific Express Entry draw.

Does it matter whether I completed my work experience in Canada or elsewhere?

It does not matter whether your work experience was done in Canada or another country. As long as your duties match that of an eligible NOC code and your work experience meets all the eligibility criteria, i.e. number of hours, continuous, paid, etc.

Does my primary occupation need to be in a STEM occupation to be selected in a STEM draw?

No, you do not need your primary occupation to be in a STEM occupation to be selected. You simply need 6 months of work experience in the last 3 years in a STEM occupation.

When will I receive an ITA for a STEM-specific draw?

This is up to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Historically, Canada holds Express Entry draws at least a couple times per month. These may be all-program draws, program-specific draws, or category-based draws.

In 2023, Canada is inviting more STEM candidates than those from any other category— a good sign for STEM candidates in the Express Entry pool.

That being said, your Express Entry profile is valid for up to 12 months in the pool. STEM candidates with competitive scores are likely to be invited within that time frame, whether it’s through a STEM-specific draw or another type of invitation round.

STEM candidates who are worried that they may have a low CRS score may be eligible for a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Receiving a nomination from a PNP is a sure way to receive an ITA, as it adds 600 points on to your overall score. Check out the latest PNP draws on our Canada PNP Live Tracker.

Stay up to date with the latest Express Entry draw news on our dedicated page or by signing up for our newsletter.

Will STEM-specific Express Entry draws stop?

This is entirely up to IRCC. In Canadian policy, it is up to the government to decide on Express Entry categories. These must be derived from public consultations, and reported on annually. However, given that Express Entry is Canada’s flagship immigration pathway, it is unlikely that Express Entry draws will stop as a whole. Depending on labour market conditions and other factors, however, there is a possibility that Canada could change the availability of STEM-specific draws.

If I have a STEM Occupation, does my CRS score still matter?

Yes, your CRS score still matters even if you have a STEM occupation however in STEM draws, the CRS score required to receive an ITA is lower than the CRFS needed for an all program draw. For instance, in the first STEM draw, the CRS cut off was 486. Around the same time, the CRS cut off for an all program draw was 511.

How often will IRCC hold STEM draws?

There is no set schedule for when IRCC will hold STEM-specific draws. Since STEM-specific draws were introduced in July 2023, there has only been one STEM draw however IRCC have previously commented that they will prioritise STEM draws.

Do I need to provide extra documents if I am selected in a STEM- Specific draw?

No, you do not need extra documents however you need to make sure that the work experience documents you provide clearly show 6 months of STEM experience in the last 3 years.

My spouse qualifies for a STEM-specific draw, can my profile receive the ITA?

No, to receive an ITA in a STEM-specific draw, the principal applicant must have the experience. If your spouse qualifies, they should have their own Express Entry profile where they are listed as the principal applicant.

About the author

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Rebecca Major

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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