Migrating to Canada as a nurse is an exciting opportunity that offers numerous professional and personal benefits. Canada’s healthcare system is renowned for its high standards, and there is a significant demand for skilled nurses across the country. This demand, coupled with Canada’s welcoming immigration policies, makes it an attractive destination for nurses seeking to advance their careers and improve their quality of life. If you are seeking how to migrate to Canada as a nurse, this guide shares some helpful information that can help you on your path.

Ways to Migrate to Canada as a Nurse

The three main pathways through which you can migrate to Canada as a nurse include:

Express Entry System

The Express Entry system is one of the primary pathways for skilled workers, including nurses, to immigrate to Canada. It is an online system used by the Canadian government to manage applications for permanent residence from skilled workers under three main federal economic immigration programs:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP): This is for skilled workers with foreign work experience who want to immigrate to Canada permanently.
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC): This is for skilled workers who have Canadian work experience and want to become permanent residents.
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP): Although this program is more for trades, some nursing-related professions might qualify.

FSWP is the best Express Entry for nurses as it caters to professionals with foreign work experience. To qualify for the FSWP, you must have at least one year of continuous full-time (or equivalent part-time) paid work experience within the last ten years. You must also have a minimum language proficiency in English or French, proven by standardized tests like IELTS or CELPIP for English, or TEF for French.

Provincial Nominee Programs for Nurses (PNPs)

Provincial Nominee Programs offer an alternative pathway for nurses to immigrate to Canada. Each Canadian province and territory, except Quebec, has its own PNP, designed to address specific local labour market needs and economic priorities. These programs enable provinces and territories to nominate individuals who wish to settle in a particular province and who have the skills, education, and work experience to contribute to the local economy. Keep in mind that the PNPs are not for nurses alone, but other professionals can also migrate using this pathway.

Each PNP has multiple streams or categories targeting different types of immigrants, including skilled workers, semi-skilled workers, business immigrants, and international graduates. Considering how to migrate to Canada as a nurse, the relevant streams typically fall under the skilled worker categories. These streams often prioritize healthcare professionals, reflecting the high demand for nurses across Canada. The criteria and application processes vary by province, but generally, they require candidates to have relevant work experience, appropriate education credentials, and language proficiency.

Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP)

The Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP) is a popular immigration pathway for skilled workers, including nurses, who wish to settle in the province of Quebec. Unlike other provinces, Quebec has its own immigration selection system that is independent of the federal Express Entry system. The QSWP is designed to attract skilled professionals who can contribute to Quebec’s economy and integrate into its society.

QSWP like the Express Entry program is a point-based program that evaluates applicants based on several factors. The points threshold varies, but meeting the minimum score is essential for consideration.

Other pathways are:

Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP): This is for skilled workers who want to work and live in one of Canada’s Atlantic provinces (Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick). Nurses are in demand in these regions.

Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP): This program is designed to spread the benefits of economic immigration to smaller communities. Certain communities have been selected to participate and can nominate candidates, including nurses, for permanent residence.

Study in Canada: If you do not meet the eligibility criteria for other pathways, the study route is equally a good option. You can apply to study as an international student in Canada after which you can get a job as a nurse. Besides allowing you the opportunity to increase your chances of employment, the study route also allows you time to familiarize yourself with the Canadian system and gain some Canadian work experience.

Why Move to Canada?

High Demand for Nurses

Canada faces a growing demand for healthcare professionals due to an ageing population and expanding healthcare needs. This demand translates into ample job opportunities for nurses across various specialities. Many provinces actively recruit nurses from abroad to fill these gaps, offering stable employment prospects.

Competitive Salaries and Benefits

Nurses in Canada are well-compensated, with competitive salaries that reflect their skills and experience. In addition to attractive base salaries, nurses often receive comprehensive benefits packages that include health insurance, dental coverage, pension plans, and paid time off. These benefits contribute to a high standard of living and financial security which is why people seek how to migrate to Canada as a nurse.

Professional Growth and Development

Canada offers numerous opportunities for professional growth and continuing education. Nurses can pursue advanced degrees, specializations, and certifications, often supported by their employers. Canadian healthcare institutions are known for their commitment to professional development, which helps nurses advance their careers and stay updated with the latest medical practices.

Opportunities for Family Members

Canada’s immigration policies often allow for family members to accompany skilled workers, providing opportunities for spouses to work and children to access high-quality education. The country’s strong education system and child-friendly policies further enhance the attractiveness of moving to Canada as a nurse.

Canadian Nurse Licensure

Practising nursing in Canada requires a license. Yet, obtaining licensure involves a comprehensive process to ensure that nurses meet the country’s professional standards and are capable of providing high-quality healthcare. Below is an overview of the steps involved in becoming a licensed nurse in Canada:

Educational Requirements

To practice as a nurse in Canada, you must have completed a nursing education program that meets the standards set by the provincial or territorial regulatory body. This typically includes:

  • Registered Nurses (RNs): A Bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BScN) or equivalent.
  • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)/Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs): A diploma in Practical Nursing.

Credential Evaluation

If you were educated outside of Canada, you need to have your credentials evaluated. The National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) is responsible for this process. Here are the steps:

  • Create an account with NNAS: Submit an online application and pay the required fee.
  • Submit required documents: This includes transcripts, proof of nursing registration/licensure, and verification of work experience directly from your educational institution and regulatory bodies to NNAS.
  • Language Proficiency: Provide evidence of English or French proficiency if your nursing education was not in one of these languages.

Assessment by NNAS

NNAS reviews your documents and provides an advisory report, which you must then send to the regulatory body of the province or territory where you intend to work. This report assesses the equivalency of your foreign credentials to Canadian standards.

Application to Provincial or Territorial Regulatory Body

Once you have your NNAS advisory report, you must apply to the nursing regulatory body in the province or territory where you wish to practice. Each regulatory body has its own specific requirements and processes, which may include:

  • Additional documentation (e.g., proof of identity, work authorization).
  • Fees for application and registration.
  • Possible additional assessments or examinations to ensure you meet local standards.

National Nursing Examination

To become a licensed nurse in Canada, you must pass the national nursing exam:

  • Registered Nurses (RNs): Must pass the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses). This exam is administered by Pearson VUE and is used to assess the knowledge, skills, and abilities essential for entry-level nursing practice.
  • Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)/Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs): Must pass the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPNRE).

Jurisprudence Exam

Some provinces and territories require nurses to pass a jurisprudence exam, which tests knowledge of local laws, regulations, and ethical standards relevant to nursing practice. This exam ensures that nurses understand their professional responsibilities and legal obligations within the specific jurisdiction.

Working as a Nurse in Canada

If you are considering how to migrate to Canada as a nurse, you need to start by securing a job offer in the country because you cannot work in Canada without a work permit which you can only obtain if you have a job. You may also look into ways to gain an open work permit which allows you to work for any employer. Similarly, you can apply for a study permit from which you can transition into a full-time nurse in the country. Once you have relocated to Canada, below are a few tips that can help you have a great experience as a nurse in the country:

Integration and Community Involvement: Join local community groups, cultural organizations, and social clubs to build your network. You may also volunteer as it can help you meet people, gain work experience for Canadian nurses, and integrate into the community.

Licensure Maintenance: Keep track of your nursing license renewal requirements and ensure you complete any continuing education requirements.

Mentorship Programs: Seek out mentorship programs where experienced nurses can guide you through your transition.

Continuous Education: Attend workshops, courses, and seminars to stay updated with the latest nursing practices. Also, consider obtaining additional certifications that are in demand in the Canadian healthcare system.

How Much Do Nurses Earn in Canada?

Nurses in Canada earn varying salaries depending on factors like location, experience, and specialization. On average, Registered Nurses (RNs) in Canada make around $74,813 per year or $41.09 per hour, with entry-level positions starting at approximately $41,396 annually and the highest salary reaching up to $89,546 per year. The highest-paid RNs are typically in Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. While the lowest-paid are in Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.


The process of moving to Canada as a nurse involves several steps, including credential assessment, licensure, job searching, and relocation. Understanding these steps and preparing adequately can help ensure a smooth transition and successful integration into the Canadian healthcare system. This article discusses different processes on how to migrate to Canada as a nurse to help make your relocation process seamless.