Immigration Avenues for Nurses through Express Entry Pathways


While a shortage of nurses has been a significant problem plaguing the Canadian healthcare industry for quite some time now, it has intensified due to the medical dilemmas induced by the pandemic. In order to create a practical solution for the gaps in the nursing sector, we present opportunities for foreign nurses to attain permanent residency in Canada as employed nursing professionals.

Due to the aforementioned crisis, both federal and provincial governments in Canada have recently expedited matters to resolve the paucity of nursing expertise within the domestic boundaries of the nation. To that end, they have introduced initiatives to encourage the influx of nurses into the workforce. This move was an insightful one, for it delivered swift results after gaining momentum in March 2020 with the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

For instance, Ontario has set aside $342 million over the course of the next five years to hire approximately 13,000 healthcare professionals. For around 1,500 nurses with international degrees, British Columbia has agreed to pay up to $16,000 in costs, including application fees, English language evaluations, and educational upgrades. Additionally, Quebec has set aside $65 million for the training and hiring of almost 1,000 nurses from French-speaking nations.

Given the alluring incentives, you might be interested in learning more about your chances of developing your nursing career in Canada. You might also be interested in learning more about the immigration options open to people already living in Canada.

Although we won't go over every route, Canada has more than a hundred economic immigration options. 

Eligibility hinges on the National Occupation Classification (NOC) code and skill level.

In Canada's National Occupation Classification, nursing occupies one of the two categories. Registered nurses and psychiatric nurses are classified under NOC 3012, while licensed practical nurses are designated under NOC 3233. The latter falls within skill level A.

These codes and skill levels play a pivotal role in determining your eligibility for specific immigration programs, additional criteria you must fulfill, and whether you receive an invitation in a provincial draw. Bear these factors in mind as you delve into Canadian immigration pathways.

Express Entry Routes for Nurses

Professionals in the nursing field can potentially qualify for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), both managed through the Express Entry system.

Express Entry is an internet system for handling applications for federal immigration. Those who wish to become Canadians can submit profiles and receive rankings based on the CRS.

The CRS awards points for a variety of factors, including abilities, education, and knowledge of an official language. The Express Entry pool is drawn twice a week, and the top-scoring applicants are invited to submit applications for permanent residency.

While CEC and FSWP candidates were subject to restrictions throughout the pandemic, Sean Fraser, the minister of immigration, said in July that they had been reinstated. New candidates should be ready to maintain their patience as they will have to face a lengthy six-month processing time.

Eligibility for FSWP

FSWP applicants need a minimum of one year's continuous work experience in a skilled occupation within the last decade. This work experience can be from abroad. Furthermore, FSWP candidates must achieve a Canadian Language Benchmark 7 in English and French for each of the four language skills: speaking, reading, writing, and listening. Scoring at least 67 out of 100 on the six-factor assessment, which evaluates education, language skills, and job presence, is also mandatory.

Eligibility for CEC

CEC mandates at least one year of work experience within the past three years, exclusively within Canada. A CLB 7 proficiency is obligatory for applicants possessing NOC skill level 0 or A experience (such as registered nurses). A CLB level is essential for applicants with NOC skill level C experience.

It is important to note that even though neither program legally spells out the need for a job offer for eligibility, possessing one nonetheless can heighten the likelihood of receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residency.

Provincial Nominee Program

It is indeed true that the federal government holds the ultimate say over immigration from other nations to Canada. However, there are also options for select candidates to receive nominations through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Certain PNPs are exclusively tailored for nurses, while others mandate specific work experience. PNPs occasionally conduct dedicated immigration nomination draws targeting nursing professionals.

Numerous programs in various provinces extend a warm welcome to nurses. In certain instances, PNPs draw from the Express Entry pool and extend invitations to candidates for provincial nominations. These individuals are awarded an additional 600 Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points, augmenting their Express Entry score. This substantial increase is often adequate to secure an invitation for permanent residency application.

Here's an overview of the PNP avenues accessible to nurses:

  • Ontario invites nurses to apply via the Human Capital Priorities stream.
  • British Columbia features a Healthcare Professionals category within its Skill Immigration and Express Entry pathways.
  • Saskatchewan recently introduced the International Health Worker Expression of Interest (EEOI) pool, designed exclusively for nurses.
  • Nova Scotia's Labour Market Priorities Stream occasionally organizes draws specifically inviting nursing professionals to seek nominations.
  • New Brunswick extends the Internationally Educated Nursing program, offering a pathway for foreign nurses proficient in both English and French.

Quebec's Unique Path:

It's important to note that Quebec maintains an independent immigration system. While the final verdict on Quebec immigration applications rests with Canada, the Express Entry and PNP avenues do not operate in Quebec.

Instead, Quebec presents the Regular Skilled Workers Program and the Quebec Experience Program. These avenues could potentially be accessible to nurses. Fluency in French is a requirement for both programs.