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.
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.
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.