How to Apply for a Work Visa in Canada as a Nurse

January 31, 2024


  • Kelia Losa Reinoso

Working in Canada is a popular choice amongst nurses for many reasons. The incredible work benefits, attractive salaries, job opportunities, and, of course, the chance to get Canadian permanent residency.

As COVID-19 continues to be a major concern globally, Canada needs more healthcare and essential services workers, so much so that Canada has recently announced that it would be conducting industry-specific Express Entry Draws targeted at healthcare workers to help them gain permanent residency in Canada.

This article will take you through the application process of how to apply for a work visa in Canada as a nurse, as well as touch on some of the many benefits that await you when you choose Canada as your new home.

How to Apply for a Canadian Work Permit as a Nurse

Nurse, particularly registered nurses, continues to remain one of the most in-demand professions in Canada. The job prospects over the next three years are rated as fair to good according to JobBank, with an estimated 191,100 new job openings over the next ten years.

With this more than positive job outlook on the horizon, let us take a look at how you can apply for a work visa in Canada as a nurse.

The Visa Application Process

Step 1. Are You Eligible?

This is perhaps the most important part of your Canadian work visa application. Knowing which visas and programs you qualify for is the best starting point.

However, no matter which visa you want to apply for, you will need to meet the following requirements:

Eligibility Requirements for All Applicants
Prove to an officer that you will leave Canada when your work permit expires;
Show that you have enough money to take care of yourself and your family members during your stay in Canada and to return home;
Obey the law and have no record of criminal activity (we may ask you to give us a police clearance certificate);
Not be a danger to Canada’s security;
Be in good health and have a medical exam, if needed;
Not plan to work for an employer listed with the status “ineligible” on the list of employers who failed to comply with the conditions;
Not plan to work for an employer who, on a regular basis, offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages;
Give the officer any other documents they ask for to prove you can enter the country.

It’s not only important to look at which programs or visas you qualify for but where your occupation is most in demand.

Step 2. FInd Out Where You’re Needed

Many skilled workers are unaware that the province or territory that they choose to settle in can have a significant impact on the likelihood of finding a job in Canada and indirectly their chances of obtaining permanent residency in Canada.

For instance, nurses are particularly in demand in provinces such as British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick as well as Newfoundland and Labrador as they have specific immigration programs aimed at tackling the current labour gap that Canada has been experiencing.

Each province has its own set of labor needs specific to its economy.

If you are in the process of waiting for your permanent residency to be approved and need to start working in Canada sooner, you will need to apply for a temporary Canadian work visa. If you intend to apply to work in any of the following provinces or territories as a registered nurse, you will need to register with the regional regulatory board:

Step 3. Apply for a Job in Canada

The next best step is to get work in Canada as a nurse. You can find various job opportunities on the Canadian Job website, JobBank, and various other sites such as Indeed, Workopolis or Monster.

Once you have a job offer, you will need to apply for an employer-specific work permit.

Step 4. Gather Your Supporting Documents

Now that you know which program or visa you qualify for and you have started the application process, it is time to start preparing for the next step in the process. While processing your visa application, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) may request some supporting documents to prove that the information provided on your application is valid.

Top Tip: When gathering your supporting documents start with those that have the longest wait time and don’t have an expiry date and leave those that have an expiry date until last. The last thing that you want is to gather documents only to have it expire once it is requested.

Remember, your documents will need to be submitted in either English or French. If it is in any other language it will need to be translated by an official translator.

Category Required Documents
Educational Credentials Diploma or degree from a recognized nursing program.
Transcripts or academic records.
Language Proficiency English or French language proficiency test results (e.g., IELTS or TEF).
NNAS Documents NNAS Application form.
Verification of nursing education and registration.
Professional Registration Proof of registration with the regulatory body in the province or territory.
Work Experience Letters of employment verifying nursing work experience.
Examination Results Results of the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination (CRNEX-RN), often the NCLEX-RN.
Identification Documents Passport or other government-issued identification.
Criminal Record Check Criminal record check or police clearance certificate.
Health Clearance Proof of good health, often in the form of a medical examination.
Resume/CV Detailed resume or curriculum vitae.
Reference Letters Professional reference letters from previous employers or colleagues.
Additional Documents (Varies by Province) Some provinces may have specific requirements, such as additional training certificates or proof of specific vaccinations.

Step 5. Submit Your Application

Now that you have everything you need to complete your application you can get ready to complete and submit your application. It is recommended that you submit your application online to cut down on processing times.

Be sure that you have access to a scanner or camera to upload your supporting documents as well as a valid credit card or debit card to pay for your work visa application fee, which currently costs $155.

Registration and Certification to Work in Canada as a Nurse

Unlike many countries, licensing for nurses in Canada is provincial, not national. This means you need to register with the regulatory body in the province or territory where you intend to practice. Each body has its own application process and requirements, but they generally share some commonalities. These include:

  • Education: Completing a recognized nursing program, usually a four-year bachelor's degree (except in Quebec with its three-year Diploma of Collegial Studies).
  • Language: English or French proficiency through exams like IELTS or TEF.
  • National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS): Registering with the NNAS, which verifies your nursing education and work experience.
  • Examination: Passing the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination (CRNEX-RN), commonly the NCLEX-RN, except in Quebec with its own exam.

Provincial Variations: While these are common steps, specific requirements and processes can differ by province. For example, some provinces might require additional clinical practice hours or specific courses. To ensure you meet all the requirements, it's crucial to contact the regulatory body in your chosen province as early as possible in your planning process.

Key Resources:

Getting registered and certified to work as a nurse in Canada requires patience and diligence, but with careful planning and guidance from the relevant resources, you can navigate the process successfully and embark on a rewarding career in Canadian healthcare.

Provincial Nominee Programs for Nurses in Canada

Explore your pathway to permanent residency in Canada as a nurse through various Provincial Nominee Programs!

Province Program Eligible Nurses Stream
British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Registered Nurses, Psychiatric Nurses, Nurse Practitioners Healthcare Professional Stream
New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses Skilled Worker Stream
Newfoundland & Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, Nurse Practitioners In demand occupations priority skills, Skilled Workers streams
Nova Scotia Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses Nova Scotia Demand Express Entry, Occupations In-Demand streams

What Benefits Do Nurses Get in Canada?

Canada values its healthcare professionals and it shows. Here are some of the fantastic work benefits that you and your family can look forward to when you immigrate to Canada as a nurse in 2021.

  • Extended health care such as prescription drugs, vision care, dental;
  • Semi-private hospitalization;
  • Life insurance;
  • Accidental death and dismemberment insurance;
  • Short and long-term disability benefits;
  • Pension plan;
  • Health and wellness programs;
  • Counselling services;
  • Paid vacation and holidays.

Ready to take the next step toward a new career in Canada?

If you are interested in applying for a work visa in Canada as a nurse and are not sure if you are eligible or and afraid that you may risk your chances of a successful application, the best option is to enlist the services of immigration professionals to help you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Get My Nursing Qualifications Assessed Before Coming to Canada?

Yes, definitely! The National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) assesses foreign nursing credentials. Registering early saves time and allows you to tailor your preparation to any gaps identified. Remember, Quebec has its own assessment process.

Do I Need the NCLEX-RN or a Different Nursing Exam?

All provinces outside Quebec require the NCLEX-RN for Registered Nurses (RNs). Quebec uses its own exam. Check with your chosen province's nursing association for specific details and any bridging programs if needed.

Can I Apply for Permanent Residence (PR) While Working as a Nurse in Canada?

Absolutely! Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) often target nurses. Consider exploring PNPs like Manitoba's MPNP or Saskatchewan's SINP, which offer additional points for healthcare professionals. Research your chosen province's PNP programs for specific eligibility and application requirements.