Visa Options for Nurses
Australia has a shortage of qualified nurses. The demand for experienced nurses is particularly acute in regional areas of Australia. As such, an experienced registered nurse may have a number of different visa options for living and working in Australia. There may also be other options open to nurses undertaking study prior to full qualification.
This article outlines some of the different Australian visa options available to registered nurses and students who are currently studying nursing.
Visas and Eligibility
A registered nurse (that is, a nurse who has obtained the necessary qualifications to practice and has already registered with the nursing regulatory body in the Australian States or Territories where they would like to work) may apply for the following visas:
- Temporary business (Long Stay) visa (where you have an approved business sponsor and can stay for up to four years);
- Employer nomination scheme (if you are under 45 years you may be eligible for this permanent visa);
- Regional sponsored migration scheme (if you hold sufficient qualifications, a nurse can be sponsored to work in regional parts Australia); and
- A general skilled migration visa (assuming that they have obtained a separate skills assessment from the Australian Nursery and Midwifery Council, this does not require the applicant to have a sponsor); and
- Working holidays visas (for anyone between 18 and 30, this would allow a nurse to stay for up to 12 months and work for an employer up to six months assuming that work was not the primary purpose of visiting Australia).
Nursing students who have not completed a full nursing qualification may consider applying for the following forms of visas:
- Occupational trainee visa (particularly aimed at nurses enrolled in bridging or pre-registration courses lasting at least three months);
- Business short stay visa (useful for nurses undertaking a training course under three months and may lead to longer term temporary business visa); and
- General student visa (as with all student visas, the institution must be appropriately registered with the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students).
A nurse can apply for many of the visas detailed above whether they are in Australia or overseas. Obviously some visas can act as pathways to others (eg business short stay visas) while others may grant you the chance to work and travel around Australia and find a place that you might consider settling in long-term.
However, it is always important to have understanding of what the visa allows and what restrictions it imposes. For example, student visas are often subject to restrictions regarding the amount of hours you may work. In addition, the Department of Immigration may choose to impose individual conditions on your particular visa alone. It is recommended that you seek the assistance of a registered migration agent or an immigration lawyer to give you piece of mind in coming to Australia.