Migration to Australia for Nurses

Nursing is one of the most favourable occupations for migration to Australia. This article goes through the most important things you need to know if you are looking to migrate to Australia as a nurse.

Nursing Specialisations on the Skilled Occupations List

The most commonly used nursing specialisation when applying for migration to Australia is the occupation of Registered Nurses NEC (Not Elsewhere Classified). This occupation is on the Skilled Occupations List and is usually the most straightforward nursing specialisation to apply for skills assessment in.
Most nursing specialisations are on the Skilled Occupations List – for example Aged Care, Critical Care and Emergency, Mental Health and Surgical nurses. These would generally require evidence of work experience in the relevant field for a positive skills assessment.

Whilst Nursing Clinical Director is on the SOL, other senior nursing occupations such as Nurse Educator, Nurse Researcher and Nurse Manager are not on the SOL, but are on the CSOL (Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List). This means that state/territory and employer sponsored visas are still a good option.

Enrolled Nurses and Mothercraft Nurses, similarly, are on the CSOL, but not the SOL.

Nursing Support workers – which includes the specialisations of Assistant in Nursing (AIN), Nurses’ Aide and Paramedical Aide are not on the CSOL and so are difficult occupations to apply for migration in.

Application Pathways for Nurses

1. General Skilled Migration

This option would require you to pass skills assessment in your occupation and to receive an invitation through SkillSelect.
Many nurses apply through the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa. This is where you are not sponsored by a state/territory government or a relative, and requires at least 60 points in the skilled migration points test for an invitation.

Those will lower levels of English or who are older may not be able to achieve 60 points independently. In this case, many consider either state nomination or family sponsorship.

If sponsored by a state or territory government, this gives an extra 5-10 points and also gives you higher priority in SkillSelect. Nurses are in demand in most states and territories.

Family sponsorship is only possible if you have an Australian permanent resident or citizen living in a designated area. In this case, you would apply for a Skilled Regional (Provisional) Subclass 489 visa, and the family sponsorship will give you 10 extra points.

Employer Sponsorship

Nurses are often sponsored by employers for visas – possible options include:
457 Visa: This is a 4-year temporary visa, which requires a minimum base salary of at least $53,900 and for the employer to be an approved sponsor
ENS Visa: This is a permanent visa, most commonly applied for once you have worked for your employer for 2 years. It is also possible to apply directly if you have a skills assessment and at least 3 years of work experience in your occupation
RSMS Visa: This option requires a job offer in a regional area. Employers need to meet lower requirements, and there is a wider range of occupations which are possible. No formal skills assessment is required in general for the direct entry option, so it is a good option if you do have a job offer in a regional are
Working as a Nurse in Australia

To work as a nurse in Australia, you must be registered through AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency).
If you are applying for an employer-sponsored visa, you will need to either hold registration or be eligible for registration on arrival in Australia.

Registration would require you to have a recognised Australian or overseas qualification, and to meet the English requirement.

Recognised Overseas Nursing Qualifications

Bachelor-level qualifications from the following countries are likely to be recognised by AHPRA: Belgium, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, Ireland, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Singapore UK and the USA.
If your qualification is not recognised, you may need to undertake a bridging course in Australia to convert your qualification to the Australian equivalent.

English Requirement

AHPRA will require you to show that you meet their English language requirement.
This will often require completion of an English language test. AHPRA accepts the IELTS, OET, PTE Academic, and the TOEFL iBT. It is possible to use 2 different test sittings to meet the English requirement – these need to be done within 6 months of each other. Test results are valid for 2 years.

Exemptions from English testing apply if your initial qualifications, schooling or tertiary qualifications were done in certain English-speaking countries.

Skills Assessment for Nurses

You will require a skills assessment if you are applying for general skilled migration, or for the direct entry stream of the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa.
The skills assessment for nurses is through ANMAC (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council). There are 3 main eligibility pathways for skills assessment as a nurse:

1. Registration in Australia

If you are registered as a nurse in Australia through AHPRA, you can apply for a “modified skills assessment”. This would require you to show evidence of your registration and your entry-level qualifications. If you have been registered overseas or have been an enrolled nurse in Australia, you’ll also need to show documentation about this.
Note that AHPRA registration in itself is not sufficient for skills assessment – you will need to go through ANMAC if you need a migration skills assessment.

2. Initial Qualifications in Recognised Overseas Country

This would require you to have your initial nursing qualifications and registration in Canada, European Union, Hong Kong, Singapore or United States.
You would also need to meet the English requirement for ANMAC skills assessment. This may require you to undertake an English test – but you would to be exempt from testing if you have studied for 5 years or more in certain English-speaking countries.

3. Registration in Recognised Overseas Country

This option is similar to the “Initial Qualification” pathway, but would apply if you currently have registration in the UK, Ireland, USA or Canada only. In this case, your initial nursing qualifications can be done elsewhere, but you’ll need to show you have been working full time in nursing for at least the last 3 months in one of these countries.

Employer Sponsorship – Recent Developments Feb 2017

Employer sponsorship has been controversial in recent times and the Department of Immigration continues to make changes.

This article goes through some of the recent trends we have encountered in the 457 and other employer sponsored programs, and also flags some possible changes which may come into effect in 2017.

Cancellations of 457 Visas

Immigration has stepped up its compliance operations and is now much more likely to cancel visas where:
An employee has ceased work; or
In the case of dependent partners, where the relationship has ceased
A typical scenario would be where a spouse relationship has broken down. If this is reported to Immigration, the dependent partner will receive a Notice of Intention to Consider Cancellation (NOICC). Whilst the partner can put forward reasons for not cancelling the visa, this is happening more often – even if a new visa application has been lodged.
Cessation of employment – 60 rather than 90 Days

Since November 2016, employee who have ceased employment for more than 60 days are considered to be in breach of visa conditions. The 60-day timeframe applies to 457 visa granted on or after 19 November 2016.
The timeframe was previously 90 days, so this means 457 holders have less time now to find a new 457 sponsor if they finish employment.

457 holders who cease employment for more than 60 days are now more likely to face cancellation, so it’s very important to be aware of this if ceasing employment.

Possible Changes to Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List (CSOL)

The Minister for Immigration has indicated on a number of occasions that he is looking to reduce the number of occupations on the approved list for 457 sponsorship, the CSOL.
The Minister has said that this will happen “very soon” but there is no clear timeframe on when this would happen.

The Minister has tasked the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM) to review the 457 list and their report is due in the first half of 2017.

If a change is made, the most likely date would be 1 July 2017, but the list could be changed at any time by issuing a new Legislative Instrument.

Possible Increase to Minimum Salary for 457 (TSMIT)

The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) is the minimum a 457 holder can be paid. The current minimum salary is $53,900 and has been at this level since July 2013.
A review of the TSMIT was commissioned by the Minister in December 2015, and was to report to Government in April 2016. To date, we do not have any information on recommendations, or when they would be implemented.

However a recent report from the Australian Population Research Institute suggests that a large number of IT workers are paid at the lowest possible rate, which suggests an increase might be warranted at least for the IT sector.

ENS/RSMS Processing Times – Impact on Training Requirement

Processing times for the permanent Employer Nomination Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme are now 8 months in most cases. Because of the long processing time, we are starting to see Immigration requesting updated training information – for the period between lodgement and prior to grant of the ENS nomination.
As a result, it is more important than ever to ensure that the business complies with its 457 training obligation at all times.


Employer sponsorship continues to be under the spotlight.



GSM for Trade Occupations

Australia has a shortage of trades workers – suitably qualified and experienced trades people from overseas have always been welcomed in Australia and have great employment prospects.

There are a number of different migration pathway options available – this article goes through the main requirements for trades workers migrating through the points tested General Skilled Migration program.

Nominating a Skilled Occupation

First you would need to choose an occupation to apply for a skills assessment in.
The choice would depend mainly on your qualifications and work experience, but it is best to nominate an occupation on the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) if possible.

There are a wide range of trades on the SOL – including construction trades, automotive trades, metal workers and chefs.

Even if you do not have an occupation on the SOL, it is still possible to apply for migration by obtaining sponsorship by a state or territory government – many states and territories have trades occupations on their State Migration Plans.

Skills Assessment

The first step in applying for general skilled migration is to get your skills assessed as suitable to work in your trade in Australia.
The correct pathway can be difficult to determine – it will depend on your trade, passport country and whether you’ve studied in Australia. The main pathways are as follows:

1. Trade Test

If you are in certain trades and have a passport from certain countries, you must go through the trade test pathway.
The first step would involve providing evidence of your trade qualifications and work experience in your trade. Overall, you must show that you have worked and studied for at least 5 years in your occupation, or 3 years if you have an Australian trade certificate.

The second step requires either a technical interview or a practical test. The technical interview would normally be done via Skype through an approved venue and involves you explaining how you would undertake certain tasks. The practical test is required for licensed trades, and requires you to demonstrate your skills in person.

2. Paper Assessment – Migration Skills Assessment

This would be done via the TRA’s “Migration Skills Assessment” pathway. This option would require you to have a formal trade qualification – either an apprenticeship or vocational qualification. You would also need to have work experience of at least 3 years, and to have worked for at least 12 months in your trade in the last 3 years.
If you do not have a formal qualification, it is possible to have a qualification issued via Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) – in this case you would need to show at least 6 years of work experience in your trade to pass skills assessment.

TRA requires applications to be “decision ready” – any mistake or omission will result in a refusal so it is important to ensure that the application is prepared carefully.

3. Job Ready Program

This option is available for international students who have completed a trade qualification in Australia – generally this would need to be at the Certificate III level or higher.
There are two main parts to the Job Ready Program (JRP) application.

Firstly, you would obtain a provisional skills assessment by showing that you have completed a relevant qualification in Australia and have worked in a relevant position for at least 360 hours. You would use the provisional skills assessment to apply for an 18-month Graduate Temporary subclass 485 visa.

Secondly, you would work full time in your trade in Australia for 1725 hours (approx. 12 months). The work must be registered with TRA by the employer, and you would need to keep a log book of your work. Towards the end of your 1725 hours, you would have a practical trade test and only then would you be issued a skills assessment you can use for a permanent visa application.

Skilled Migration Points Test

Next, you would need to obtain at least 60 points in the skilled migration points test.
You can score points for a number of different factors, including:

Your Age
Skilled Work Experience – you can score points for work experience either in Australia or overseas
English language ability – to score points, you would need to undertake English language testing
Australian Studies
State Nomination
SkillSelect EOI System

Once you have sufficient points, you would lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) through SkillSelect.
It is not possible to apply directly for a General Skilled Migration visa – you must first be invited through SkillSelect.

State Nomination (Optional)

If you do not have an SOL occupation, you would apply for state nomination after lodging your EOI. States and territories have their own criteria for state nomination – this would in general require you to demonstrate your work experience, English language ability and commitment to living in the state or territory.
Visa Application

Once you have received your invitation through SkillSelect, you have 60 days lodge your visa application.
You will need to provide documentation on the points you claimed in your EOI, so it’s very important that the EOI is completed accurately.

You and your family members will be asked to complete health and police checks. Once your application is granted, you would generally have 12 months from completing your health and police checks to enter Australia for the first time.