Immigrate to Canada as a Nurse


In order to immigrate to Canada as a nurse, you need to fulfill several requirements before you apply.  One of the main requirements pertains to getting your education credentials evaluated so that immigration authorities can have an assessment of how your foreign education credential compares with education in Canada.  For example, if you have a three-year diploma in nursing or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from your home country, the credential evaluation body in Canada will compare your degree/diploma and transcripts to programs in Canada and give you an equivalency based on how the program measures up.

Once you pass the above step, you must get the education credential assessed by the nursing body in Canada known as the National Nursing Assessment Service or NNAS.  You need to provide several documents to the NNAS which include:

  • Identity documents
  • Nursing education forms
  • Documents and details of the education you completed in your home country
  • Registration forms
  • Practice/employment forms
  • Language results (IELTS)
  • Documents may vary depending on the country you are applying from

If you are successful with this step, there is an additional step for you to get recognition from the province you want to practice in.  Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories and each of them have their own bodies from which you must get recognition in order to allow you to practice in that province.

Once you have the above, you can now apply for immigration to Canada via Express Entry – the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).  The Federal Skilled Worker Program does not require you to apply to a particular province/region and if you are successful, you can settle anywhere in Canada.  However, do remember that in order to practice in a particular province, you must have recognition from the nursing body in that province.  So whether you decide to apply under the FSWP or specifically to a PNP, you must get recognized from the province you wish to work and settle in or if you wish to apply for a specific PNP then you must have recognition from that province’s nursing body in order to apply for a nomination to that province.

The FSWP works on a score-based system where you first need to be eligible to apply for Express Entry based on selection factor points.  Points are given for several factors such as age, level of education, number of years of skilled work experience, job offer or close relative in Canada, language skills in English and/or French and adaptability which is measured in a number of ways.  You must get at least 67 out of 100 points in order to apply.  You are then placed in a pool of applicants and your profile remains valid for one year.  The hope is that within this one year, the federal government will invite you to apply for permanent residence or immigration to Canada.  For those in the pool, you are also given another score called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).  The higher your CRS, the greater your chances of selection.  Those with relatively less advanced age, higher education, several years of work experience, higher scores on language tests and so on get the higher points.

Provincial Nominee Programs or PNPs allow provinces to select immigrants to settle there based on their own labour market needs.  Almost all of Canada’s provinces and territories have their own PNP program other than Quebec and Nunavut.   Quebec has its own Quebec Skilled Worker Program for applicants who wish to move to Quebec which also has its own score-based system.

A job offer always increases your chances of success to get selected to any of the above programs.

Nursing FAQs

How much do nurses earn in Canada?

A nurse’s salary really depends on the area of settlement, the level of skills and work experience.  Nurses can earn between CAD$30,000 to CAD$60,000/year.  However, nurses can also make upwards of CAD$100,000/year if they have specialized nursing experience such as registered general nurses.  As mentioned above, Canada has one of the most severe nursing shortages in the world and is seeking to attract a great deal of nurses in the coming years.

What kind of nursing jobs are available in Canada?

There are a number of nursing positions in Canada.  These include:

  • Registered nurses
  • Supervisors
  • Allied primary health practitioners
  • Licensed practical nurses
  • Dental nurses
  • Psychiatric nurses
  • Nurses aides

Does it matter if I have a nursing degree or a diploma?  Can I practice in Canada with either?

The answer to this question depends on the type of nurse you are and/or where in the country you wish to practice.

For example, Registered Nurses must have bachelor’s degrees in nursing in order to be allowed to practice as General Registered Nurses.

Canada also has nurses who specialize in psychiatric nurses who must have a bachelor’s degree in psychiatric nursing or a general nursing degree and a post-graduate credential in psychiatric nursing.  Psychiatric nurses who are registered are a regulated profession in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

There are also Licensed Practical Nurses in Canada or Registered Practical Nurses in the province of Ontario.  These are nurses who have a post-secondary diploma programme in nursing.

In order to know which category you fall within, you must check your education level and type of work experience you have.  An essential tool for you to check information on your nursing occupation, you must consider Canada’s National Occupational Classification for the various nursing professions to see if the job duties you have completed and your educational background matches Canadian requirements.

What if I do not yet have a nursing background but I am interested in learning nursing in Canada?  Would this also allow me to practice as a nurse in Canada after I graduate? 

Studying nursing in Canada can be an excellent route for you to gain a high-quality credential in Canada which would be valued in Canada or may be valued in your home country.  However, do remember that the intention of coming to Canada to study is a temporary one so that you may return home to employment prospects in your home country.  That being said, you would be eligible to apply for a work permit after you graduate and there are immigration programs that benefit those with Canadian work experience and education such as the Canada Experience Class should you decide to change your mind during your time in Canada and to apply to stay back in Canada rather than return home.

How do I get admission into a nursing program in Canada?

There are several Canadian universities which offer nursing programs in Canada.  Once these are researched and you meet requirements, you may apply to nursing programs for admission.  Once you have your Letter of Admission, you may apply for a study permit or seek the assistance of our firm to do so.

Is it just me or do the steps to coming to Canada as a nurse seem difficult or cumbersome?

Well, please do keep in mind that nursing is an extremely important profession where public health is at stake.  Therefore, Canada, like many countries, requires that Canadian or foreign trained nurses have the required skills and training in order to serve the public in a highly competent manner.  However, a lot of information is available online and while you do not need the assistance of a consultant or immigration lawyer to help you, we are happy to provide consultation and/or application services to those who wish to apply for a study permit to Canada to study nursing or to apply for immigration to Canada.

How much will the various steps above cost?

Any process for Canada – whether for nurses or otherwise – has costs involved. With nursing programs specifically, there are a number of costs involved including, but not limited to, language tests and education credential assessment costs to begin the process.

If you seem to be eligible, you will then need to spend funds on assessment/legal costs if you choose to hire an immigration professional to assist you.  And whether or not you decide to hire a professional, you will nevertheless have immigration related costs such as immigration visa application and related costs, additional PNP charges if you are also applying to provinces, medical fees and so on.

For those who wish to apply to study in Canada, you may still need to conduct a language test (this depends on the school) and will have costs related to applying to schools and applying for the study permit.

The above list is not to deter you, but it is important to be prepared that there will be a number of costs involved.  If you can afford the costs, do remember that these will not come up at once, but will come up over a period of time which may lighten the financial burden on you.

I am interested in applying or I know someone else who is interested.  What is the next step?

You may begin by conducting online research to know more about the above steps.  If you are interested in seeking our guidance on assessing your eligibility, please contact us.  We are also having a virtual information session on January 21 which will be followed up a customized paid assessment for your profile and eligibility.

Additional Information: 

Please see names below of provincial regulatory bodies who are involved in nursing programs across Canada: 

British Columbia

British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals.


College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta

College & Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta


College of Nurses of Ontario

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia College of Nursing


Saskatchewan Registered Nurse Association


College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba

Practical Nurses College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Manitoba

There are several pathways to go to Canada as a nurse – now more than ever especially due to COVID-19 related nursing shortages and an ageing population that needs critical support that nurses provide.  Canada already had nursing shortages before the pandemic, however, these have been further exacerbated since then.  It is estimated that Canada will need over 100,000 nurses by 2030. 

There are many requirements that individuals must meet before they can move to Canada as a nurse.  We have provided you with a summary of some of the steps below.  Please feel free to contact us if you wish to know more.

**Also be advised that we are hosting an informative virtual seminar and customized consultation for nurses who may qualify for Canada!!**

The seminar will be taking place on January 21.  Please contact us for more details: [email protected] / 055 055 5888

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