The pandemic has exacerbated Canada’s need for nurses. Offering pathways to permanent residency for a foreign nurse is one way to fill job vacancies in the industry.
Even before the pandemic, Canada was experiencing nursing shortages. Since COVID-19 swept the globe in March 2020, the federal and provincial governments have been implementing programs to encourage more nurses to enter the workforce. Canada’s demand for nurses is increasing, and the country is actively seeking foreign-trained nurses to fill the gap. Many nurses from around the world consider Canada to be an appealing destination for a variety of reasons, including competitive salaries, excellent job prospects, and a high standard of living.
Immigrating to Canada as a nurse, on the other hand, can be a complex and daunting process that necessitates careful planning and preparation. In this blog, we will look at the steps needed to immigrate to Canada as a nurse, as well as the eligibility requirements, job prospects, and opportunities, as well as the challenges and solutions for newcomers. By the end of this blog, you will have a better understanding of what it takes to pursue a career in nursing in Canada, as well as what resources are available to assist you in successfully navigating the immigration process.
Why Should a Nurse Immigrate to Canada?
Canada, as one of the world’s largest and most diverse countries, has a robust healthcare system that provides quality care to its citizens. However, the country currently has a shortage of healthcare professionals, including nurses, creating a high demand for foreign-trained nurses to fill these gaps. Here are some of the reasons why becoming a nurse in Canada is a wise decision:
High Demand For Nurses: According to the Canadian Nurses Association, there will be a 60,000 nurse shortage in Canada by 2022, increasing demand for foreign-trained nurses. In Canada, nurses work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and community health centers.
Salary and Benefits are Competitive: Canadian nurses are among the highest-paid in the world. The Canadian Nurses Association reports that the average annual salary for a registered nurse in Canada is $80,000. Furthermore, nurses in Canada enjoy competitive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid vacation time.
Possibilities for Advancement and Growth: Nurses in Canada have numerous opportunities to advance their careers. Nurses can specialize in a variety of areas, including emergency medicine, critical care, oncology, pediatrics, and mental health. Advanced degrees, such as a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice, are also available.
The Standard of Living in Canada: Canada consistently ranks high in indices of quality of life. The country is well-known for its universal healthcare system, social programs, and high living standards. Immigrant nurses to Canada will find a safe and welcoming environment, excellent education and healthcare, and a diverse and multicultural society.
Inclusion and Diversity: Canada is known for its inclusive culture and diversity. It has a friendly atmosphere for people of all races, cultures, and religions. This makes Canada an excellent place for nurses to work and live, particularly for foreign-trained nurses who may face discrimination in their home countries.
Improved Work-Life Balance: Work-life balance in Canada is better than in many other countries. Nurses in Canada typically work 12-hour shifts, which means they have fewer days off per week to spend with family and friends or pursue other interests.
Educational Credentials For Foreign Nurses
Immigrating to Canada for these nurses can be as easy as one, two, or three.
The first step for a nurse considering immigration to Canada is to have his or her academic credentials evaluated to see if they meet Canadian standards.
For the evaluation of foreign educational credentials, the Canadian government recognizes five organizations:
World Education Services (WES); International Credential Assessment Service of Canada (ICAS); Comparative Education Service (CES); International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS); and International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES) are all services provided by World Education Services (ICES).
After the educational and background checks are completed, the prospective immigrant must have their nursing credentials recognized in Canada by the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS), which costs US$650.
The second step for a foreign national looking to immigrate to Canada as a nurse is to set up a profile on the NNAS application page.
Submission of two pieces of identity that must be notarized, copies of original documents that have been signed, dated, and stamped; a completed nursing education form that can be downloaded from the website, filled out, and signed before being sent to the school where the nurse was educated for that school’s officials to complete and then send directly to NNAS along with academic records or transcripts, course curriculum, and course descriptions and syllabi; and submission of two pieces of identity that must be notarized.
How to Become a Nurse in Canada
There are several ways to immigrate to Canada as a nurse. You may be eligible to come to Canada as a skilled worker through one of the many federal and provincial economic immigration programs.
The first step is to determine whether your academic credentials meet the required standard for practicing as a nurse. This is a required step in which your credentials will be evaluated by World Educational Services, a Canadian government-approved organization that performs education checks and verification.
The following step is to have your nursing credentials recognized in Canada. The National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) manages this process, and you must create an online account here. Essentially, NNAS converts your credentials to a North American standard and then compares and evaluates them to see if they meet the Canadian standard.
The NNAS assessment process costs CAD 650 and is the first required step in obtaining both a Canadian visa and a nursing registration in Canada.
After you have completed your NNAS assessment, the next step is to apply for NNAS by creating a profile on the NNAS application page.
You would be expected to do the following at this stage:
- Please provide two forms of identification.
- Notarized copies of original documents (signed, dated, and stamped) complete with your signature are required for proof of identity.
- These documents could be your birth certificate, marriage certificate, driver’s license, international passport, or any other government-issued identification.
- Documents that must be notarized must be prepared by a government-approved official.
- Fill out and submit your Nursing Education form. You would download the form from your online profile account, sign it, and send it to the nursing school where you were trained.
- Each school official must complete the form and send it directly to NNAS by mail or courier, along with copies of your academic records/transcript documents, nursing program curriculum/course descriptions, and/or course syllabi.
- Fill out and return the Nursing Registration Form.
- Download, sign, and return this form to all nursing licensing authorities where you were licensed or registered outside of Canada. If your Nursing Registration Form is not sent directly from your licensing authority, NNAS will not accept it. If you have a diploma that allows you to work as a nurse in your home country, request that the school that issued the diploma send an official copy (but not the original) of the diploma to NNAS.
- Fill out the Nursing Practice / Employment Form. Sign and return this form to each of your previous employers within the last five years. Year one is represented by the current year. If your Nursing Practice/Employment Form is not sent directly from your employer, NNAS will not accept it.
- Please submit your IELTS language test results. You must complete language testing and have the results sent directly to NNAS by your authorized language testing agency. If English or French is your first language, you may not need to take language tests if English or French is the main language where you live and work, and your nursing education program was taught in English or French.
Once NNAS has received all of your documents, submit your application and select the provincial association and nursing group to which you are applying.
You would have first identified a Canadian province where your skills, qualifications, and experience as an Internationally qualified Nurse are compatible with the province’s specific requirements. The complete list of Canadian provincial nursing regulatory bodies and their specific requirements can be found here.
Following the NNAS evaluation, you would apply to the Nursing medical board in your chosen Province or Territory. NNAS will forward completed files to provincial regulatory bodies, who will make the final decision on your eligibility to practice as a nurse in Canada.
Every territory will use the NNAS report to compare an applicant’s international nursing skills, experience, and qualifications to those established by their respective Nursing Boards. Once your chosen provincial regulatory body receives the NNAS report, you will be asked to begin the registration process.
After completing your Nursing registration with the Provincial regulatory body and obtaining a license, the next step is to select the appropriate immigration program. Prospective immigrants who want to work as a nurse in Canada have three major immigration options:
- Express Entry System: If a nurse meets the requirements, they may be eligible for express entry under the Federal Skilled Workers program. They are frequently required to score 67 points out of a possible 100 based on factors such as education, age, work experience, and language proficiency. The IELTS score required for nurses in Express Entry is determined by the individual’s entire profile. To be eligible for Express Entry, you must have at least 6.0 in each of the four language abilities.
- Quebec Skilled Worker: Nurses who score at least 50 points on the Quebec Selection Grid may be eligible for the Quebec Skilled Workers (QSW) program. The Quebec Skilled Workers Program does not have a minimum IELTS score requirement. However, depending on your profile, you may be required to have a minimum score to qualify. Your degree does not require an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA). Furthermore, you are not required to declare proof of funds for this immigration option.
- Provincial Nominee Program (PNP): PNPs are immigration programs run in collaboration by provincial governments and the federal government. Every province in Canada has its own PNP with multiple streams, but all PNPs lead to Canadian permanent residence. Some PNPs are only available to candidates who have already been accepted into the federal Express Entry pool. Many PNPs require some kind of connection to the province to operate, such as family living there or previous experience studying or working in the province. Other PNPs are intended to fill skill gaps in the province by accepting skilled workers with experience in in-demand occupations.
Job Prospects and Opportunities for Nurses in Canada
Nurses are in high demand in Canada, and nursing professionals have excellent job prospects. With an aging population and increasing healthcare needs, the demand for nurses is expected to rise further, creating a plethora of job opportunities for nursing professionals.
The aging population is one of the major reasons for the high demand for nurses in Canada. As the population ages, so does the demand for healthcare services such as preventative care, chronic disease management, and end-of-life care. This demand has resulted in a shortage of nurses in a variety of settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, home healthcare, and community healthcare.
Nursing is also a highly specialized field, with nursing professionals able to specialize in areas such as pediatrics, mental health, critical care, emergency care, and oncology, among others. These specializations offer nurses a diverse range of job opportunities, allowing them to pursue their interests and passions.
Another factor that contributes to nursing being a promising career option in Canada is the high level of education and training that nursing professionals receive. A four-year Bachelor of Nursing degree program or a two-year Registered Nursing Diploma program is required to become a registered nurse in Canada. Nurses must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) after completing their education to obtain a nursing license.
Geographic location also influences job prospects and opportunities for nurses in Canada. Some provinces and territories require more nurses than others. Nursing professionals are in high demand in provinces such as Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, whereas territories such as Nunavut and Yukon have fewer opportunities due to their small population sizes.
The average annual salary for a registered nurse in Canada ranges from $60,000 to $90,000, depending on experience, specialization, and geographic location. Nurses can also supplement their income by working overtime or taking on extra shifts.
Immigrating to Canada as a nurse can be a rewarding and life-changing experience; however, careful planning, preparation, and research are required. Nurses can improve their chances of success in the Canadian healthcare industry by understanding the eligibility criteria, immigration programs, and job opportunities available. Furthermore, while adjusting to a new country can be difficult, the Canadian government provides numerous resources and support systems to help newcomers settle in and thrive. Finally, for those willing to take on the challenge of immigration, pursuing a career in nursing in Canada can provide a fulfilling career, a competitive salary, and a high quality of life.