February 28, 2024

Canada Made It Easier For Nurses To Migrate To And Get Citizenship

Canada, a country renowned for its diverse and welcoming population, is actively seeking talented nurses to join its healthcare workforce. Facing a growing demand for skilled professionals due to factors like an aging population and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has implemented several initiatives to attract and retain qualified nurses, particularly those from abroad.

This blog delves into Canada's current nursing shortage, the government's response through streamlined immigration processes and provincial support programs, and the various pathways available for internationally educated nurses (IENs) to migrate to Canada  and contribute to the Canadian healthcare system.

Understanding the Nursing Shortage in Canada

The shortage of nurses in Canada is not a recent phenomenon. However, the stresses and challenges presented by the pandemic have exacerbated this issue. A 2022 report by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) revealed concerning statistics:

  1. High Burnout Rates: Many nurses were experiencing burnout due to demanding workloads and understaffing, leading to an alarming number of resignations.
  2. Intensified Workloads: The pandemic significantly increased the pressure on nurses, further contributing to burnout and jeopardizing their mental health.
  3. Aging Population: Canada's aging population requires more healthcare services, placing a greater demand on an already stretched workforce.

These factors have resulted in a significant gap in healthcare staffing, with over 162,100 vacant positions in the healthcare and social assistance sector as of January 2023. This represents the highest level on record, highlighting the critical need for increased recruitment efforts.

Immigration as a Solution: Canada Makes it Easier for Nurses to Migrate

Recognizing the urgency, the Canadian government, in collaboration with individual provinces, has prioritized attracting nurses through immigration. Key strategies include:

  1. Fast-tracking Credential Recognition: Streamlining the process for IENs to obtain the necessary accreditation to practice nursing in Canada.
  2. Simplified Immigration Pathways: Introducing various immigration programs specifically tailored for healthcare professionals, including nurses.
  3. Financial Support: Offering financial assistance to IENs to cover application fees, assessments, and travel costs.

These initiatives aim to expedite the integration of qualified nurses into the Canadian healthcare system, ultimately addressing the staffing shortages and ensuring high-quality care for Canadians.

Provincial Efforts to Attract and Retain Nurses

Healthcare being a provincial responsibility in Canada, each province has implemented specific initiatives to attract and retain nurses. Some noteworthy examples include:


  1. Investing over $15 million to train and support IENs, including bursaries and new nurse bridging program seats.
  2. Signed a memorandum of understanding with the Philippines to facilitate the recruitment of Filipino nurses.

British Columbia:

  1. Introduced a new nurse-to-patient ratio ensuring manageable workloads and better patient care.
  2. Covering application and assessment fees for IENs and offering financial support for nurses returning to practice after an absence.


  1. Launched a Health Human Resource Action Plan focusing on recruitment, training, and retention of healthcare professionals.
  2. Committed to adding 2,000 healthcare providers and eliminating mandated overtime.

Nova Scotia:

  1. Offered a $10,000 recognition bonus to nurses and additional financial incentives for those who commit to staying in the province for two years.
  2. Made conditional offers to healthcare workers, including nurses, through international recruitment efforts.


  1. Implemented changes to allow IENs to work sooner while they complete their registration process.
  2. Made it easier for non-practicing or retired nurses to return to the field.
  3. Introduced new regulations requiring health regulatory colleges to comply with time limits for registration decisions and accept language tests approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, reducing duplicate testing for immigrants.

These provincial initiatives demonstrate a strong commitment to supporting the nursing workforce and creating a welcoming environment for internationally educated nurses.

Immigration Pathways for Nurses

Canada recognizes the vital role that internationally trained nurses play in bolstering its healthcare system. To streamline the immigration process and attract skilled nurses, Canada offers various pathways tailored to your experience and goals.

Core Immigration Programs:

Express Entry: This popular program uses a point-based system to assess candidates based on factors like education, work experience, age, and language ability. Skilled nurses often qualify under the following Express Entry sub-categories:

  1. Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP): Designed for experienced professionals with qualifications in skilled occupations.
  2. Canadian Experience Class (CEC): Rewards candidates who have already gained work experience within Canada.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs): PNPs allow provinces to select immigrants who meet their unique labor market needs. Several provinces have PNP streams specifically designed for nurses:

  1. Ontario Human Capital Priorities Stream
  2. British Columbia Healthcare Professional Category
  3. Saskatchewan International Health Worker EOI Pool
  4. Nova Scotia Labour Market Priorities Stream
  5. New Brunswick Internationally Educated Nurses Program

Additional Options:

  1. Studying in Canada: Enrolling in a recognized Canadian nursing program can provide valuable education and experience, potentially paving the way for permanent residency.
  2. Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP): Targets skilled workers, including nurses, who wish to settle in Atlantic Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador).
  3. Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP): Seeks to attract skilled workers, including nurses, to specific communities outside of major urban centers.
  4. Live-in Caregiver Program: Provides a pathway for those with caregiving experience, including nurses, to gain Canadian work experience.
  5. Spousal Sponsorship: For candidates married to a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pathway

  1. Your Eligibility: Each program has specific requirements regarding education, work experience, language skills, and other criteria.
  2. Processing Times: Some programs may have faster processing timelines than others.
  3. Location Preferences: Consider whether you want to live in a specific province or are interested in exploring opportunities in rural or Atlantic Canada.
  4. Long-Term Goals: Do you intend to settle permanently in Canada or gain Canadian work experience before returning to your home country?

Understanding the Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

While specific details may vary for each immigration pathway, here's a simplified overview of the general process:

  1. Eligibility Assessment: Start by determining which immigration programs you might be eligible for. Each program has specific requirements regarding education, work experience, language proficiency, and other factors. Use online tools and resources provided by the Canadian government and consult with immigration professionals for personalized guidance.
  2. Gathering Documentation: Collect all necessary documents, including proof of education, work experience, language test results, and any other relevant supporting evidence. Ensure your documents are translated into English or French if required.
  3. Preparing Your Application: Complete the application forms for the chosen immigration pathway carefully. Meticulous attention to detail is crucial, as any errors or omissions could lead to delays or rejection.
  4. Submitting Your Application: Follow the instructions for submitting your completed application package, along with supporting documents and payment of applicable processing fees.
  5. Processing Times: Processing times for immigration applications can vary, ranging from a few months to over a year, depending on the program and workload.
  6. Medical Exams: You may be required to undergo medical exams to assess your health status as part of the immigration process.
  7. Language Tests: For most programs, you must demonstrate proficiency in either English or French by taking an approved language test. Options include:

IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program)

TEF (Test d'Évaluation de Français)

  1. Decision: You will receive a decision on your application which could be an approval, request for additional information, or a rejection.
  2. Preparing for Arrival: If your application is approved, you'll need to finalize travel arrangements, acquire housing, obtain necessary Canadian documentation (e.g., Social Insurance Number), and start exploring the local job market.

Additional Factors to Consider for Aspiring IENs in Canada

Beyond the aforementioned pathways, here are some additional factors for aspiring internationally educated nurses (IENs) to consider when embarking on a new chapter in Canada:

Licensing Requirements: Each province in Canada has its own regulatory body responsible for licensing nurses. These bodies set specific requirements for IENs, including:

Educational Credentials: Verification of your nursing degree and transcripts from a recognized institution.

Language Proficiency: Passing an English or French language test, depending on the province.

National Licensure Examination: Successful completion of the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination (CRNE) or the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPNRE).

Additional Requirements: Some provinces may have additional requirements such as specific work experience or completion of bridging programs to adapt your skills to the Canadian healthcare system.

Resources and Support Programs: Several resources and support programs are available to assist IENs in navigating the licensing process and integrating into the Canadian healthcare system. These include:

The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA): Provides information and resources for IENs, including guidance on the licensing process and professional development opportunities.

Provincial Regulatory Bodies: Each province's regulatory body offers information and resources specific to their licensing requirements and processes.

Immigrant Settlement Agencies: These agencies provide various support services to newcomers, including assistance with finding employment, housing, and language learning.

Cost of Living and Salary Expectations: While Canada offers a high quality of life, it's important to be aware of the cost of living, which can vary significantly between provinces and even cities. It's essential to research individual provinces to understand the cost of living and housing options.

Salary expectations for nurses in Canada also vary depending on factors like experience, location, and specific area of practice. Resources like the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) provide salary data for nurses across different provinces.

Adapting to a New Culture and Environment: Transitioning to a new country can be challenging, and adapting to a new culture and work environment takes time and effort. Connecting with local communities and professional organizations can ease the transition and provide a support network for IENs.

Bottom Line

Your journey to becoming a nurse in Canada starts with selecting the immigration pathway that best matches your profile and career aspirations. With the right preparation and perseverance, you can unlock doors to an enriching and fulfilling nursing career within Canada's welcoming healthcare system.

Considering Migrating to Canada as a Nurse?

Pelican Migration Consultants, leading immigration consultants in Dubai, can guide you through the entire process. We offer comprehensive support to internationally educated nurses (IENs) seeking to embark on a rewarding career in Canada's healthcare system.

Our team of experienced and CICC licensed consultants possesses extensive knowledge of Canadian immigration programs, including those specifically tailored for nurses. We assist you in:

  1. Identifying the most suitable immigration pathway based on your individual profile.
  2. Understanding the eligibility requirements and application process for your chosen pathway.
  3. Gathering and organizing necessary documents.
  4. Preparing and submitting a strong application package.
  5. Communicating effectively with Canadian immigration authorities.

Pelican Migration Consultants prioritizes exceeding your expectations and ensuring a seamless immigration journey.  Contact us today for a free consultation and take the first step towards a promising future as a nurse in Canada.