|Permanent Resident Card (2002-2007) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Coming to Canada as a Nurse – The Process
In our last edition, CIC News explained how Canada has opened its doors to welcome internationally educated nurses. This article will focus on the different ways a nurse can come to Canada to work and live. As the demand for nurses continues to grow, nurses are presented with the opportunity to seek either permanent or temporary residency in Canada.
A registered nurse or licensed practical nurse seeking permanent residency in Canada is invited to discover the benefits of the Quebec Skilled Worker (QSW) immigration program. Nurses with international credentials may also seek temporary residency in Canada if they obtain a valid job offer and subsequent work permit. Once working in Canada on a temporary basis, permanent residency options may later present themselves through alternate immigration programs.
Permanent Residency: The Quebec Option:
The Province of Quebec has implemented an immigration policy that reflects its high demand for nurses. With high salaries, available jobs and a rapidly expanding healthcare system, Quebec seeks to bring the best international nursing professionals to its cities and towns. The QSW program, the province’s most popular program for permanent residency, has been set up in a way that benefits qualified nurses.
The QSW program offers internationally educated nurses an opportunity to seek permanent residency in Canada without the need to secure a job offer. The QSW program is a points-based selection system and points are awarded for various factors which include age, education, area of training, work experience, language ability etc. If an applicant scores enough points to reach the pass-mark, he or she will generally qualify for a Quebec Selection Certificate, which ultimately leads to a Canadian permanent resident visa, in the absence of health and/or security issues.
The QSW selection criteria awards a significant number of points for French language ability. However, under this program many nurses are able to score enough points to reach the pass mark without obtaining any points for French language ability. This is because nurses are able to earn very high points for the “area of training” selection factor as well as high points for their education.
To find out more about the QSW program and its selection factors, please click here.
Temporary Residency: The Work Permit Option:
As the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is predicting a continued shortage of nurses in the future, nursing jobs in the country are more plentiful than ever. Internationally educated nurses may apply to work temporarily in Canada. Temporary residency for foreign trained nurses may be achieved if the applicant secures a valid job offer and subsequently, a work permit.
To begin this process, an applicant with a nursing degree from outside Canada must have their educational credentials assessed. Since educational credentials can be assessed from both inside and outside Canada, applicants are given the option to remain in their country of residence during the assessment process.
After educational credentials have been assessed, applicants must register as a nurse in Canada. When this has been completed, an applicant may initiate the process of obtaining a job offer and work permit in Canada. To facilitate the process of finding a job offer, some individual provinces have implemented services helping connect internationally educated nurses to employment opportunities in healthcare communities.
Once working in Canada on temporary basis, an applicant looking for permanent residency may then explore their immigration options through programs such as the Canadian Experience Class or Provincial Nominee programs.
How to register as a nurse in Canada:
Any nurse planning to work in Canada must be deemed as qualified to practice as a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed/Registered Practical Nurse (LPN/RPN). To qualify, an applicant must register with either the Canadian Nurses Association (CAN) or the Canadian Council for Practical Nurse Regulators (CCPNR).
In Canada registration requirements are established by individual provinces and territories. To register with the CNA or CCPNR, nurses must first apply to the nursing regulatory body of the province or territory where they wish to work:
Northwest Territories & Nunavut
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland & Labrador
In general, in order to be eligible to register as an RN or LPN, an applicant will need to demonstrate competency to practice. To demonstrate this, an applicant will need to have their education credentials assessed. Once education credentials are deemed equivalent to nursing education programs in Canada, the nursing regulatory body will then address whether other application requirements are met. Additional application requirements generally include criteria such as work experience, good character, language proficiency, screening for criminal history and registration in the jurisdiction where the applicant currently practices.
Once a positive assessment of the application requirements has been met, Canadian provinces and territories, with the exception of Quebec, require that nurses write the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination (CRNE) or Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Exam (CPNRE) as part of the registration or licensure process (the province of Quebec maintains its own registration examination). At present, these exams can only be written in Canada. Once an applicant has successfully completed the required examination, the applicant may be eligible to work as a nurse in Canada.