Immigrating to Canada as a nurse

Given the situation, there is a good chance of being approved to immigrate to Canada as a nurse, if having the required qualifications.  

The COVID 19 pandemic was harsh on Canada. It exposed many vulnerabilities and left its mark on all sectors of the economy. Problems like understaffed hospitals, layoffs, restrictive preventive measures, and the economic downturn became common as countries battled to keep the number of infected down to manageable levels.  

The Canadian job statistics show a cumulative employment loss of 3,000,000 between March and April 2020, while output fell by 17%. It was not until September 2021 that the country’s employment numbers recovered to pre-pandemic levels.  

Despite this gradual recovery, Canadian health care jobs still face labour shortages. The pandemic continues to drive the rising job vacancy numbers.  

Statistics Canada’s job data for the first quarter of 2022 showed total vacancies at a new record high of 136,800- up 5.0% from the peak of the fourth quarter, 2021.  

A heavy share of the demand in Canadian health jobs was for registered nurses and psychiatric nurses (22,900) and licensed practical nurses (11,300).  

How many Immigration methods are available to a Nurse in Canada?  

Health care professionals have different ways of immigrating to Canada. Have a look at the options to immigrate to Canada as a nurse below-

  1. Express Entry – This is one of the most popular ways to immigrate to Canada as a nurse if you have professional credentials. Nurses fall under skill type A and qualify for Express Entry. The two popular programs under this route are the following:
    • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSW)- It works by ranking candidates on their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. Canadian work experience is not required. Though you’ll still have to meet some qualifications. 
      • At least 12 months of continuous, full-time, skilled work experience completed within the previous ten years (or an equal amount in part-time experience).  
      • A minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 7 on an approved English or French language test.  
      • A minimum of a Canadian high school diploma or the equivalent in foreign education.  
      • Sufficient funding to support themselves and any spouse and/or children in Canada.  
      • Must intend to live outside of the province of Quebec.  
    • Canadian Experience Class (CEC)- This program is for individuals who have worked in Canada for at least a year and are familiar with Canadian life and work-culture  

Once you’re placed in an Express Entry pool, you will have to maintain a high Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) Score to be eligible to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Permanent Residence.  

  1. Provincial Nominee Programs- Nurses fall under health care professions and skilled workers, making them highly valued candidates for economic-class immigration.   
  1. Some PNPs are open to candidates already in the Express Entry pool. Receiving a nomination from these PNPs grants an additional 600 CRS points.  
  1. Studying in Canada- Even if you’re currently ineligible for immigration, you may be allowed to enter Canada as an international student. Earning your nursing degree and having a professional background in Canada can be advantageous if you are looking to immigrate in the future.  
  1. Quebec Experience Program- The program is available for international students or foreign workers in Quebec. It is a simplified, fast-track process for Permanent Residency, provided you’re already in Quebec and meet some basic requirements.  
  1. Atlantic Immigration Program- The program is for Immigrants interested in Permanent residency in one of Canada’s four Atlantic provinces- New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador.  

Getting your Nursing credentials recognized

You have to get your credentials verified before you can start applying for Canada’s health jobs.  

As an Internationally Registered Nurse (IEN), you must complete an application with the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS). The NNAS issues a license as a Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), or Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN) for a Canadian province of your choice.   

The application is online on their website, along with a handbook to help guide you through the process. You may apply to the NNAS before or after your immigration. Be aware of the fees and prepare ahead of time.  

The Registration process is meant to vet your credentials and ensure you meet Canadian health care standards. In all, the entire process can take up to a year. You can monitor the status of your application through an application portal.  

What are the wages for Nurses like in Canada?  

Job statistics in Canada show that nursing wages vary according to your location and demand. The Average Median hourly salary for nurses in Canada is $40.  

According to Job Bank, Canada’s national employment service, the provinces with the highest Median wages for Registered nursing jobs were:  

  • Nunavut with $67.83  
  • Northwest Territories $52.23  
  • Yukon Territory $45.28  

The Median wages for Registered nurses in popular provinces were:  

  • Alberta $44.00  
  • British Columbia $41.00  
  • Ontario $39.00  
  • Quebec $36.10  

Another statistic on the highest need for qualified nurses by showed Manitoba had the highest demand, followed by New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec. Their respective Median wages were:  

  • Manitoba $42.00  
  • New Brunswick $39.57  
  • Nova Scotia $39.00  
  • Quebec $36.10  

Benefits of being a nurse in Canada

As a Permanent Resident and Healthcare worker, you are entitled to free Healthcare services and can access Canadian health insurance plans that cover you and your family. The Government also provides free public-school education for your children.  

Further, Canada performs well in many safety indexes and is ranked 12th in the Global Peace Index published by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).  

The salaries for Registered Nursing jobs in Canada are also among the most competitive in the world. You can expect to make more here than in many developed countries.  

Are you worried about leaving your child behind while you work? Fear not, Registered Nurses in Canada receive access to facilities for child care assistance.  

Are there Government schemes to help Immigrant nurses?  

The Canadian Government is doing its part in helping immigrant nurses access Canada’s health jobs.  

The Minister of Employment, Workforce, Development and Disability Inclusion announced new projects in 2021 to help Internationally trained nurses get their credentials recognized.  

This included funding the Progress Career and Planning Institute, the Touchstone Institute, and McMaster University. The three institutions will help newcomers by guiding them with certification requirements, providing online self-assessment tools for official certification, skill upgrading, and employment supports like access to job postings and referrals to employers.  

Are there any Age limits for Nurses in Canada?  

No, there is no official age limit in Canada.  

As a Healthcare worker, you have a higher chance of being picked for Immigration into Canada. The Job statistics show that the sector has many vacancies that will continue to rise in the foreseeable future. We encourage you to help us out by sharing your knowledge. Together, we can fulfil the dream to access better opportunities and immigrate to Canada as a nurse.  


Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou

Janggoulal Sitlhou is a content writer with SettleCanada. He is a Political Sciences graduate and a keen follower of international affairs and contemporary history. He has a background in publishing and regularly dabbles in writing and game development projects. Janggoulal currently writes on issues related to Canadian Immigration.