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Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) can qualify to work in Canada – Guidelines

Did you know that Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) can qualify to work as nurses in Canada? IENs who obtained a Canadian nursing license have significantly higher chance to become Canadian permanent residency.

It is the perfect time for Internationally Educated Nurses to seek work opportunities in Canada. Canada is facing a significant projected shortage of nurses. Almost 500,000 workers in the health-care sector are over the age of 55. Most are retiring in the next decade. Canada is looking to immigrants to help fill these important jobs.

See also Nurses from Singapore can qualify to work as nurses in Canada – Guidelines.


The coronavirus pandemic has also exacerbated the shortage of nurses and other health professionals in Canada leading the government of Canada to commit to relying on immigrant nurses to fill the shortage.

See Canada highlights importance of immigrants to health-care system.

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.

As evidence of Canada’s huge demand for foreign skilled nurses, on April 14, 2021 Canada launched six new temporary immigration programs for foreigners who are already currently working in the country. Canada is accepting up to 20,000 new permanent residents working in healthcare positions through this temporary program starting May 6. The application window will close on November 5, or when the intake cap is full, whichever comes first.  Two of these streams are dedicated to healthcare professionals, such as nurses. See Canada to give PR to 90,000 essential workers and international graduates in 2021 and FAQs about Canada’s new 2021 PR programs for essential workers, international student graduates.


Canada’s province of Ontario alone needs thousands of foreign-trained nurses to come work in the province’s hospitals by March 31 2022. These include foreign nursing students, medical students, and other students in the field of health care. See Ontario seeks 6,000 foreign-trained nurses by March 2022.

Canada Express Entry immigration pathways for nurses

Two of Canada’s leading economic immigration programs that are most popular among foreign nurses are the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC). To be eligible for these programs, it is important to have skilled nursing work experience.

Neither program requires a candidate to have a job offer, but having one can significantly increase your likelihood of successfully applying for Canadian permanent residence.

Canada uses the Express Entry system and the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) to score and rank immigration applications. The CRS assigns a score to candidates based on the information you entered in your federal Express Entry profile. Candidates are placed into a pool of other candidates from which the government of Canada periodically conducts draws to select the highest scoring EE profiles and sends them Invitations To Apply (ITAs).

See How to create an Express Entry profile.

The FSWP requires an applicant nurse to have at least one year of continuous work experience from anywhere within the last ten years. An FSWP applicant also must score a CLB 7 in English or NCLC 7 in French on all four language competencies: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. They must additionally score at least 67/100 on the six-factor test that assesses candidates’ education level and language skills.

The CEC requires one year of work experience in Canada, within the last three years. Applicants must prove scores, across all four language competencies.

In addition, many Canadian provinces have more than one program that target foreign nurses in their Provincial immigrant nominee programs (PNPs). Through the PNPs, Canadian provinces are able to select candidates who meet their labor and skilled jobs shortages and recommend them for Canadian permament residency.

Foreign nurses are a top target of the PNPs because they are in high demand due to nurse shortages in Canada, and they are working in a skilled occupation.

The PNPs have streams dedicated specifically for foreign nurses only and other streams available to foreign nurses target several health professions, or they are open to skilled workers in general.

How can Internationally Educated Nurses qualify to work as nurses in Canada?

Each Canadian province has different procedures and specifications for Internationally Educated Nurses applying to work in Canada. In the rest of this article we describe how Internationally Educated Nurses can qualify to work as nurses in Canada through OMNI College, based in the province of British Columbia in Canada.

The information in this article is based on OMNI’s publication, Upcoming OMNI College Visits to Singapore. There is no affiliation between AfriCanada.com and OMNI College.

In the last section of this article we have also added brief summary and contact information for each Canadian province.

The National Nursing Assessment Service guidelines, NNAS handbook for applications, is a great resource for all Internationally Educated Nurses seeking to qualify to work as nurses in Canada.

Internationally Educated Nurses can qualify to work as nurses in Canada through OMNI College’s Canadian Nursing Review Program (CNRP). The CNRP provides Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) with the skills required to pass the NCLEX-RN and become certified to work as nurses in Canada.

About OMNI College

OMNI College is government accredited and fully licensed by the Private Training Institutions Branch of the Ministry of Advanced Education in British Columbia, Canada. OMNI’s accreditation status demonstrates to Internationally Educated Nurses their commitment to delivering quality education and service, as only those schools that meet certain high-level standards are given accreditation status.

The college is also proud to be designated as an EQA (Education Quality Assurance) institution. The EQA designation was created by the Government of British Columbia as a seal of approval recognizable worldwide, with its main purpose to act as an assurance of quality and consumer protection to international learners and governments.

OMNI is also a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) approved by the Government of Canada. This designation allows full-time students enrolled at OMNI College to work part-time during studies and full-time during scheduled breaks without a work permit. To qualify, candidates applying to admission to OMNI College need to include OMNI’s DLI number on their application for a study permit.

This number is DLI# O19347439002.

The following are the core requirements for OMNI College’s Canadian Nursing Review Program needed by Internationally Educated Nurses to qualify to work as nurses in Canada.

1. Have the Minimum Requirements For Enrollment Into OMNI College:

  • Be currently registered as an RN in good standing in your home country
  • Have a minimum of 1125 hours of RN work experience within the past 4 years, and 2 years of RN work experience within the past 6 years
  • Have achieved a minimum score of 6.5 overall on an IELTS Academic exam, or equivalent score on an English proficiency exam.

2. Complete OMNI’s Admission Process:

  • Attend OMNI College’s Online Information Session
  • Submit OMNI College’s Enrolment Application Form & all required admission documents
  • Attend a one-on-one Admissions Appointment with an OMNI Advisor for final qualifying
  • Receive your conditional letter of Acceptance
  • Pay required tuition fees, text & materials fees including any other fees of requested services
  • Submit signed Student Contract
  • Receive your official letter of Acceptance
  • Apply for visa & study permit

3. Begin Your Canadian Nursing Review – 12 Month Program

Your student journey at OMNI College begins by completing the CELBAN Test Preparation course (4 weeks). CELBAN is one of the only English assessment tests accepted by the nursing regulatory bodies in Canada. By preparing at OMNI College, you will maximize your chances for success on the CELBAN test, bringing you closer to achieving your Canadian nursing license to work as nurses in Canada.

After CELBAN you will move on to your intensive Canadian Nursing Review (12 months, beginning with Nursing 1000/1001)

*If they have not already done so, students start their account application with the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS). The below step by step process as an example for Internationally-Educated Nurses, assuming they have selected British Columbia as their preferred province, and thus applied to the British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals (BCCNP).

  • Nursing 1000/1001 is a highly intensive training portion of your nursing program, consisting of daily classroom lectures and regular skills practice and lab work.
  • You will then complete a clinical experience at a local health care facility, where you will utilize your hands-on skills in a real life Canadian health care work environment.
  • Through the guidance of your instructors and advisors at OMNI, you would have timed your CELBAN test writing date to be around half way through your nursing program.
  • Once you receive notification of your successful CELBAN scores and after they have been received and confirmed by the NNAS, you will receive your NNAS Advisory Report.


*Congratulations, at this stage you have now finished your application with NNAS!

  • NNAS will then send your advisory report to the Canadian Nursing Regulatory Body you chose to register with (ie. BCCNP or other provincial body).
  • The nursing regulatory body will inform you whether there are any further documents required for your application.
  • If there are no further documents needed, they will allow you to proceed with the next step: scheduling your Nursing Community Assessment Service (NCAS). This assessment is made up of three components: a computer based assessment, a simulation lab assessment and an oral assessment.
  • Once you have an NCAS test date, you will undergo 6-weeks of intensive training at OMNI to prepare for this assessment.
  • After your preparation, you will be ready to complete the NCAS Assessment
  • You may only take the NCAS once.
  • Your NCAS results will highlight your strengths and any gaps, if you have any. Keep in mind, the regulatory bodies use these results, along with other information they have obtained from you, to help them make their registration decisions and determine if you are ready to work as a nurse in Canada.
  • If the Regulatory Body deems you have to complete certain requirements (such as further courses) please note, you will have to complete those requirements BEFORE you are eligible to move on to the next step: which is completing the NCLEX-RN exam.

*At this stage, you are almost there – keep going!

  • Your program continues with OMNI helping you to prepare for your NCLEX-RN exam
  • Take your NCLEX-RN exam
  • You can expect your results approximately 6 weeks after taking the exam. For those who do not pass the exam, they will receive a report that indicates how the candidate performed in each area. Candidates can use this as a guide to prepare them to retake the exam.
  • Once you pass your NCLEX-RN exam, it should not take more than a few days to get you RN license number!

OMNI FACT: Since January 2015 when the Canadian NCLEX-RN replaced the previous CRNE, OMNI has had 99% of its students pass their NCLEX-RN exam on their first attempt!

*Congratulations, at this stage you have now achieved your license as a nurse in Canada!

  • As a licensed nurse, you are now eligible to complete the co-op portion of your program to gain that valuable Canadian work experience! You will work as a nurse for a 4 month period and solidify all the in-class training and skills learned throughout your program.
  • The final piece to your program at OMNI will be the Leadership in Nursing module. You will use the experience gained from your co-op and apply it towards completion of the Leadership course. Once submitted and you achieve a passing grade, you will then graduate from OMNI College!

Co-op Work Opportunities for Internationally Educated Nurses

Once you are successful in achieving your nursing license, your program at OMNI is not yet complete. You will be eligible to begin a co-op work experience through OMNI’s program. This will give you the hands-on Canadian work experience you need to not only be successful in the workplace, but also to be competitive in the job market.

A candidate who has actual Canadian work experience as a nurse will be a much more suitable candidate and more attractive to an employer than other candidates who have had zero experience in Canada.

Working while Studying at OMNI

You can also work in Canada while studying at OMNI College. OMNI College is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) under the International Student Program (ISP) approved by the Government of Canada. International students enrolled in OMNI Canadian Nursing Review programs are eligible to work part-time up to 20 hours per week during studies, and up to 40 hours per week during academic breaks, without a work permit.

However, it is important to note that students must come to Canada with enough money to support themselves during their program. OMNI students who work part-time do so just to give them extra spending money. The ability to work should not be for you to cover your regular living expenses, as this would require a significant amount of working hours and may distract you from your studies.

The Canadian Nursing Review programs at OMNI are intense and will require a lot of focus in order to become successful. These are not easy programs. They are designed to give you the right kind of training you need to succeed in the workplace. So please ensure that while you are eligible to work during studies, you should also make study time and your commitment to the process as your top priorities.

For more detailed information regarding the International Student Program, please visit the Government of Canada immigration and citizenship website at www.canada.ca.

OMNI FACT: OMNI students have been hired during studies for jobs ranging from restaurants to retail, to gas/petrol stations, and also to jobs in health care such as companions and as actual health-care assistants.

Your pathway to Canadian Permanent Residency

The combination of a Canadian nursing license, work experience, and a job offer, will greatly improve your chances of remaining in Canada, if that is your goal.

By the time of your graduation, you will already be 1) a licensed nurse and you will have already gained 2) Canadian work experience. These 2 factors, combined with a job offer, will open doors to many immigration pathway options should you choose to remain in Canada after your studies. See Immigrate to Canada from Singapore – Updated Guidelines.

OMNI FACT: Since 1999, 90% of OMNI graduates have successfully immigrated as Permanent Residents in Canada.

Contact OMNI College

Mr. Philip Zhang
OMNI College Student Advisor

WhatsApp: (+1) 778 804 7988

See also:

Contacts and information for each Canadian Province.

Each province has different procedures and specifications for Internationally Educated Nurses applying to work in Canada. Consult the table below for province-specific information pertaining to nursing applicants.

ProvinceProcedureProcessing TimeLanguage Proficiency Test
AlbertaProvide Evidence of RN certification, education and work experience3-6 MonthsEnglish: CELBAN or IELTS (Academic Version)
British ColombiaProvide Evidence of RN certification, education and work experience. If deemed qualified they will receive approval, if not they will be asked to do a Substantially Equivalent Competency (SEC) Assessment.3-6 MonthsEnglish: CELBAN or IELTS (Academic Version)  
ManitobaProvide Evidence of RN certification, education and work experience4-6 monthsEnglish: CELBAN or IELTS (Academic Version)  French: TEF  
New BrunswickProvide Evidence of RN certification, education and work experience4-6 Months  English: CELBAN or IELTS (Academic Version) French: TEF
Newfoundland and LabradorProvide Evidence of RN certification, education and work experience3-6 Months (Possibly more due to backlog)English: CELBAN or IELTS (Academic Version) or TOEFL
Nova ScotiaProvide Evidence of RN certification, education and work experience6-8 MonthsEnglish: CELBAN or IELTS (Academic Version)
OntarioEach applicant receives a personalized application. While they do not provide a lot information they do seem to be more organized than the other provinces.3-5 months once all information is received.  English: CELBAN or IELTS (Academic Version)  French: TEF    
QuebecProvide Evidence of RN certification, education and work experience and go through integration program3-6 Months French: TEF
Prince Edward IslandProvide Evidence of RN certification, education and work experience4-6 months once all documents are received  English: CELBAN or IELTS (Academic Version) or TOEIC
SaskatchewanProvide Evidence of RN certification, education and work experience4-6 months  English: CELBAN or IELTS (Academic Version)

You may pre-qualify for a Canada immigration program.