Saturday, May 5, 2012

Immigrating to Canada as a nurse

Canada continues to accept skilled workers who meet its stringent requirements. Since last year, the Canadian government introduced a cap system that limits the number of applicants every year. This limit, however, is not intended to deter qualified applicants but is aimed at reducing the application backlog and better manage the processing of applications.

Qualified nurses are still welcome to apply, although there is a cap of 500 applications per year. To learn more about the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) and the changes that took effect on July 1, 2011, you may follow this link.

We are writing this guide to help anyone planning to immigrate to Canada as a federal skilled worker. It is targeted at nurses, in particular, who are hoping to immigrate to Canada but it may be used by anyone applying who want to apply as an immigrant under Canada's FSWprogram.

Who is eligible
First of all, who are eligible to apply under the Federal Skilled Worker program? There are 29 eligible occupations that are considered to have a proven need in Canada. For an application to be processed, the applicant must meet any of these three:

  • A valid offer of arranged employment, OR
  • Have at least one year of continuous full-time paid work experience in at least one of the 29 occupations, OR
  • Be an international student enrolled in a PhD program in Canada (or graduate from a Canadian PhD program within 12 months) and meet certain criteria.

Take note that the FSW program does not apply to the province of Quebec. Also worth noting is that the application cap mentioned earlier does not apply if you have an offer of arranged employment. Canadian employers rarely, if at all, will offer you employment if you don't have a valid Canadian nursing license, so arranged employment may be hard to come by. If you are joining a staffing agency, they may be able to provide proof of an employment offer, but there could be several complications if you choose this route. For our purposes, we will not touch on this topic in this article.

If you're a nurse in the Philippines and you have been working in a full-time nursing job for at least a year within the last ten years, then you meet the second eligibility listed above. Volunteer nursing work does not qualify you in this case. Here's a list of other eligible professional occupations.

After you meet the minimum requirement, your application will be processed based on six factors, namely:

  • Education
  • English or French language skills
  • Work experience
  • Age
  • Whether you have arranged employment
  • Adaptability

Points system
Each factor will be assigned points. For example, a maximum 25 points is awarded in Education. If you have a master's or PhD, then you will be given 25 points. If you have two bachelor's degrees, you could be given up to 22 points. A bachelor's degree earned in at least 2 years of study in the bachelor's level can be given 20 points. The minimum score that will qualify you to continue with your application is 67 points. You have to meet this minimum score otherwise your application will be returned to you.

This brings us to the first important step in the application process. You should accomplish a self-assessment tool online to see if you meet the minimum score. This online tool is fairly easy to use and free, so it puzzles me that agencies charge a large fee to do this simple assessment. Here's a link to this online tool. Remember that this tool is for your personal use only and results are not a guarantee of an approved application. Your qualifications will be assessed based on the official application documents that you send later on, not with the self-assessment tool.

If you are confident that you can meet the minimum score, go ahead and download all the application form, accomplish it and send the required fee. Accomplishing the application forms is fairly easy to do if you carefully review the Instruction Guide that comes with the application packet. Once you download the application forms, read the Instruction Guide first. A lot of questions and additional steps are explained in the guide. For example, the photo guidelines are very unique to Canadian immigration but you can see detailed instructions in the guide.

You can download the forms from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada Web site.

To be continued.

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