How to immigrate to Canada in 2022 as a nurse

Toronto: The pandemic has increased Canada’s demand for nurses. One of the ways to fill job openings in the industry is to provide foreign nurses with avenues to permanent residency.

Even prior to the pandemic, nursing shortages existed in Canada. Since March 2020, when COVID-19 swept the globe, the federal and provincial governments have added programmes to encourage more nurses to enter the workforce.

For instance, Ontario plans to invest $342 million over the next five years to hire over 13,000 healthcare professionals. BC has promised approximately 1,500 nurses with international education up to $16,000 to cover application fees, English language exams, and educational upgrading. In addition, Quebec is investing $65 million in the recruitment and training of nearly 1,000 francophone nurses.

You may be wondering how to move your nursing career to Canada in light of all these incentives. Or, if you are already in Canada, you may wish to learn about the available immigration programmes.

Before listing some of the most popular immigration routes for nurses, it is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list. There are over 100 economic immigration programmes in Canada. Because nursing is frequently considered “skilled work,” nurses are eligible for virtually any programme that requires “skilled work.”

NOC code and skill level are important for eligibility

According to the National Occupation Classification (NOC) of the Canadian government, nursing falls into one of two categories. The code for registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses is NOC 3012, which corresponds to NOC skill level A. NOC 3233, licenced practical nurses, falls under skill level B.

These codes and skill levels are crucial for determining which immigration programmes you are eligible for, what other requirements you must meet for a particular programme, and whether you were invited to apply in a particular provincial immigration draw. Consider these as you research Canadian immigration programmes for nurses.

Express Entry Programs for nurses

The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC)  may be available to nurses. The Express Entry system administers both of these federal immigration programmes.

The federal government manages immigration applications online through the Express Entry system. Prospective immigrants to Canada submit their profiles and receive a score based on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

Among other factors, Express Entry candidates receive points for their skilled work experience, age, education, and language proficiency. Bi-weekly Express Entry draws invite the candidates with the highest scores to apply for permanent residence.

Despite the fact that draws for CEC and FSWP candidates were suspended during the pandemic, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has announced that they will resume in early July. In addition, the standard processing time for new applicants would revert to six months.

FSWP eligibility

The FSWP requires applicants to have at least one year of continuous work experience in a skilled occupation within the past ten years. The experience may have been gained overseas. A candidate for the FSWP must also achieve a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 in reading, writing, speaking, and listening in either English or French. In addition, they must achieve a minimum score of 67/100 on the six-factor test that evaluates education level, language skills, and employment status in Canada.

CEC eligibility

The CEC requires one year of recent skilled work experience. The work must have been performed in Canada. Applicants with NOC 0 or A work experience (such as registered nurses) must have a CLB score of at least 7. Applicants with NOC Level B experience must have a CLB 5

Although neither programme requires a job offer, having one may increase your chances of being invited to apply for permanent residence.

Provincial Nominee Program

Although the federal government has the final say on who is permitted to immigrate to Canada, the provinces may nominate certain candidates through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Some PNPs are reserved exclusively for nurses, while others require only skilled work experience. Sometimes, PNPs hold immigration nomination draws for nurses exclusively.

Multiple provinces offer multiple programmes welcoming nurses. Occasionally, provincial nomination programmes invite Express Entry candidates to apply for provincial nomination. If nominated, these candidates receive 600 CRS points added to their Express Entry score. This award is more than sufficient to invite the candidate to apply for permanent residency.

Here is a list of some PNP pathways for registered nurses.

  • Registered nurses are encouraged to apply through Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities Stream.
  • British Columbia’s Skills Immigration and Express Entry pathways include a Healthcare Professional category.
  • Saskatchewan has recently established a nursing-specific International Health Worker EOI pool.
  • Occasionally, the Nova Scotia Labour Market Priorities Stream holds draws inviting registered nurses to apply for a provincial nomination.
  • The Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) programme in New Brunswick is a route for foreign nurses who speak English or French.

CanadaVisa provides a PNP finder to help individuals match with the most suitable PNP for their Canadian immigration journey.


Quebec is responsible for its own immigration system. Certain programmes, such as the PNP and Express Entry, are unavailable in Quebec, despite the fact that Canada retains the final say on Quebec immigration applications.

In lieu of this, Quebec provides its Regular Skilled Worker Program and Quebec Experience Program. Both of these programmes are available to nurses. Both of these programmes require workers to have a functional understanding of French.

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