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Canadian Immigration Options for Nurses in 2023

Published on: December 16th, 2022
Last updated: May 29th, 2023

Nurses are in high demand across Canada; for this reason, there are a number of Canadian immigration pathways for nurses to choose from. As a nurse, you may be qualified to come to Canada as a skilled worker though one of the many economic immigration programs at both the federal and provincial level.

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There are four main ways that you can come to Canada as a nurse:

  1. Express Entry
  2. Quebec Immigration
  3. Provincial Nominee Programs
  4. Study in Canada

Express Entry

Nurses qualify for Express Entry under the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW) or Canadian Experience Class (CEC) if they meet the program requirements. To apply under the FSW program, candidates must have at least one year of continuous work experience within the past 10 years in a skilled occupation. It is possible for the work experience to have been completed abroad. 

Candidates who meet the minimum requirements can submit a profile to the Express Entry pool. Once they’re in the pool, they receive a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score out of 1,200. Then, the highest-ranking candidates in the Express Entry pool are issued Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence.

One of the greatest advantages to the Express Entry system is that if you are invited to apply for permanent residence, your application can be processed as soon as six months!

The minimum language score requirement for nurses in Express Entry depends on the individual’s complete profile. You need to score at least a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 7.0 in English or French in each of the four language competencies to be eligible for Express Entry. In addition, applicants must score at least 67/100 on the six-factor test that assesses candidates’ education level, language skills, and whether they have a job in Canada.

Quebec Immigration

Nurses may also be eligible for the Regular Skilled Worker Program (QSW) depending on their score in the Quebec selection grid.

Eligible candidates may submit a profile to Quebec’s Arrima portal, which is ranked on another points system. The government of Quebec holds regular Arrima draws, where they invite candidates to apply for permanent selection. Nurses are often targeted in Quebec’s Arrima draws.

Provincial Nominee Programs

Another possible immigration option for nurses to immigrate to Canada is through a Provincial Nominee Program(PNP). PNPs are immigration programs run through a partnership between provincial governments and the federal government. Each province in Canada operates its own PNP with multiple streams, but every PNP leads to the same end result: Canadian permanent residence.

Some PNPs are only open to candidates who are already in the federal Express Entry pool. Receiving a nomination from one of these PNPs grants you an additional 600 CRS points, virtually guaranteeing you will receive an ITA.

Many PNPs require some kind of a connection to the province operating it, like family residing there or having past experience studying or working in the province. Other PNPs are designed to address skills gaps in the province by accepting skilled workers with experience in occupations that are in-demand in the province.

The Labour Market Priorities stream of the Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP), for example, is only open to candidates with an Express Entry profile who have experience in specific target occupations. The challenge with this stream is that you cannot apply without first receiving an invitation from the province. However, on multiple occasions, this stream has invited nurses to apply for nomination. Another stream that operates this way is Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities Stream, which also often invites nurses to apply for nomination.

Study in Canada

Even if you aren’t currently eligible for any of the immigration options above, you may still be able to come to Canada. As an international student, you can build on your nursing degree to help advance your career, while living, studying, and even working in Canada.

Your Canadian education may even help increase your eligibility to immigrate permanently when you graduate. Keep in mind that Canadian immigration programs change all the time, so it’s impossible to guarantee that the eligibility criteria of any of the existing programs will be the same by the time you would graduate. That said, under the current system, a Canadian degree can make a world of difference.

There are many options to choose from to immigrate to Canada as a nurse. Finding out which ones you qualify for can be overwhelming. If you’re interested in learning more about your options to immigrate to Canada, completing our free online assessment can help you take the guesswork out of your immigration process.

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