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Australian work visas and PR pathways for skilled nurses

Australia offers both temporary and permanent visa options for skilled nurses who have local or overseas qualifications, language skills and relevant work experience. From 1 October 2019, a new assessment model will be applicable to overseas nurses and midwives seeking registration which is considered essential for various work and visa opportunities in Australia.

Nurses provide nursing care to patients in hospitals, aged care and other health care facilities, as well as in the community.

Depending upon the roles set in the healthcare sector, the occupation is often divided into two roles – enrolled and registered nurses. 

Migration experts believe that nursing serves as an excellent platform for various ‘high-paid’ job opportunities and permanent residency visa pathways in Australia.

Assessment model for nurses
Getty Images/Jetta Productions Inc

A Perth-based migration agent Narinder Kaur told SBS Punjabi that nursing has the maximum number of places in this year’s Occupation Ceiling.

“Nursing serves as the best occupation when it comes to career and permanent residency choices,” said Ms Kaur.

“For 2019-20, Australia’s migration program offers over 17,000 places for nurses, which is also the highest number for any occupation in the Occupation Ceiling. So clearly it is a matter of choice for many foreign-based skilled workers who wish to permanently settle in Australia.”

“All other occupations are offered less than 9,000 places in the Occupation Ceiling which is used to define quotas for all high-demand occupations of Australia.” 

passport and travel case
Australian visa and passport.
iStockphoto

Visa options and permanent residency pathways:

There are many visa options that are offered for skilled nurses who have a local or overseas qualification, a good proficiency in English and a relevant work experience. 

For general skilled migration purposes, options mainly include state or territory based Skill Matching Visa, Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS), Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS), Working Holiday and, or Business Visa. 

From November 2019, the new regional visa scheme will replace the existing subclass 489 and 187 visas.

Ms Kaur said for all the skilled migration visas, the applicants will first need to demonstrate an essential qualification, language capability and a work experience assessment.

“The applicants also need to check through the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) for their nominated codes or the categories under which they could apply,” she added.   

“We often get queries for Independent and/or State Nominated Visas. Some of the applicants also avail a relative-based sponsorship where additional points can be claimed for an eligible relative.”

Ms Kaur said that the application process is also available for Employer-Sponsored Visas including both temporary and permanent visa options.

“The successful completion of the process and demonstrated capabilities in the field will finally lead to permanent residency in Australia,” she added. 

assessment for nurse
Getty Images/JohnnyGreig

The recent changes to the registration process

Nurses need to be registered to work in Australia and for migration purposes, they also need to undergo skills assessment with Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC).

Ms Kaur said that registration is a must for nurses and midwives with international qualifications.

“Internationally qualified nurses and midwives (IQNMs) must have registration or approval from the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA),” she said.

“The process is relatively simple and straight forward. But the applicants must be mindful of the upcoming changes that come into effect on 1 October 2019.” 

The NMBA recently announced that the IQNM applicants will now be offered the choice of being referred to a bridging program or to NMBA outcomes-based assessment (OBA) which will commence in January 2020.

Their statement says, “The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) is moving to an outcomes-based assessment model for some internationally qualified nurses and midwives (IQNMs).”

Currently, IQNMs who hold qualifications which are relevant but not substantially equivalent or based on similar competencies to Australian nursing and midwifery qualifications (and who meet NMBA mandatory registration standards) are referred to bridging programs.  

Australian passport regional migration
Supplied

From January 2020, all IQNMs with relevant but not substantially equivalent qualifications will be referred to the OBA.  

The OBA consists of two parts: a multiple-choice exam, followed by an objective structured clinical exam (OSCE).  Applicants will need to pass the multiple-choice exam before being able to undertake the OSCE.

What if an applicant has already been referred to a bridging course? More information on the OBA is available in this fact sheet

'Better prospects in regional areas’

Nurses and midwives are in huge demand all over Australia, including regional and remote areas.

Ms Kaur said that overseas skilled nurses will find better prospects in regional Australia.

“There is a real need and potential in regional areas as they often tend to struggle to recruit skilled nurses with the right skills over there,” she adds.

“There are also more incentives for international students who study and live in regional areas to avail these opportunities.”

‘Future looks bright for the nursing industry’

Ms Kaur said that the demand for nurses will keep increasing due to the growing needs and ageing population of Australia.

“The future looks bright for the nursing industry.  Health recruitment and visa experts believe that it is going to stay in high demand for many years,” she said.  

“Job seekers are likely to have more promising results with job vacancies on the rise and a growing demand for registered nurses.”

Disclaimer: This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

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