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November 14, 2023

ECAs and Category-Based Express Entry Draws for STEM Professionals

Category-based Express Entry draws focus on candidates who have specific work experience and education.

A candidate’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score plays an important role in their chances of receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence in Canada.

For this reason, obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) from World Education Services (WES) can make a significant difference by improving your CRS score and increasing your chances of receiving an ITA for permanent residence in Canada.

This article discusses category-based Express Entry draws, eligibility of candidates with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) work experience, and how an ECA can improve a candidate’s chances of securing permanent residence.

On Thursday December 14, join CanadaVisa and WES for our free webinar: Applying for WES Credential Evaluation for Employment, Higher Education, or Licensing in Canada.

Explore Getting an ECA from WES

What is a category-based Express Entry draw?

Since 2015, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has conducted “standard” Express Entry draws, which focus on offering immigrants permanent residence in Canada. Note: The term “standard” is used here to differentiate from category-based draws.

To be eligible for standard Express Entry draws, interested candidates must be eligible for one of the three programs: . Once a candidate determines their program eligibility, they can enter the Express Entry candidate pool, receive a CRS score, and then wait to see if they receive an ITA.

In June 2023, category-based Express Entry draws were introduced to help fill specific gaps in Canada’s labour market. Like standard Express Entry draws, category-based draws involve CRS scores. The main difference is that category-based draws prioritize candidates who have relevant recent work experience and an educational background that corresponds to a given category.

IRCC decided that category-based draws could help to alleviate labour shortages in the following five occupational categories:

  • Health care 
  • STEM 
  • Transport
  • Trades
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food

Can an ECA improve a candidate’s chances of being selected in a category-based Express Entry draw?

Though category-based Express Entry draws focus on specific work experience, CRS scores are still used to determine whether a candidate will receive an ITA. This means candidates with higher CRS scores are more likely to receive an ITA for a category-based draw.

An ECA from WES can improve an individual’s chances of successfully obtaining permanent residence in Canada. An ECA allows Express Entry candidates to claim CRS points for education completed in another country. It is important to know that individuals with international education must obtain an ECA in order to claim CRS points.

Which occupations are eligible for STEM category-based draws?

You may be eligible for STEM category-based draws if you have recent work experience* in the following occupations:

  • 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

*Recent work experience is defined as at least six months of full-time, continuous work experience (or an equal amount of part-time work experience) in the past three years

On Thursday December 14, join CanadaVisa and WES for our free webinar: Applying for WES Credential Evaluation for Employment, Higher Education, or Licensing in Canada.

Explore Getting an ECA from WES

What are the eligibility criteria for applicants in the STEM category?

Candidates for STEM category-based draws must meet the minimum eligibility requirements for Express Entry. Among these requirements is confirming eligibility for at least one of the three programs managed under Express Entry: Federal Skilled Worker Program, Canadian Experience Class, or Federal Skilled Trades Program.

Candidates will qualify for STEM draws only if they have accumulated the required recent work experience in any single occupation outlined in the list of eligible occupations. This work experience can be obtained in Canada or in another country.

Receiving an ECA from WES

Now that you know more about category-based draws and eligibility requirements for STEM workers, it is a good time to obtain your ECA.

WES is one of five IRCC-designated ECA providers. Once all your documents have been submitted and fees have been paid, WES can complete your ECA in 30 business days. Furthermore, WES offers a French-language online application and detailed information about required documents as well as a team of bilingual customer support representatives.

Ready to take the next step toward securing permanent residence in Canada? Get started with your ECA with WES.