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Start a new career on Canada’s west coast!

We welcome health care professionals who are internationally trained. Although the process to emigrate to Canada can be involved, you will immediately appreciate upon arrival the pleasures of life on Canada’s west coast!

For nurses and allied professionals, obtaining a work permit or work visa and licensing registration are independent processes that can take place concurrently. Generally the entire process takes roughly six to eight months, but be aware that delays may occur and complicated cases may take about 10 to 12 months. Read below to learn about the path to becoming a VCH staff member!

Explore BC

Employment Authorization

How to Acquire Employment Authorization:

To work in British Columbia, as a non Canadian Citizen or non Canadian Permanent Resident, you will require a valid work permit. A labour market impact assessment (LMIA) must be conducted before Citizenship and Immigration Canada will issue a work permit.

To successfully receive a positive LMIA and work permit, the following steps must be taken:

  • Register with the appropriate professional association
  • Apply for a position with VCH, and receive an offer of employment for a regular-full time position
  • Provide the necessary information to VCH so we can request a positive LMIA from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
  • Apply for a work permit through the appropriate Canadian Visa Office/High Commission

More information on how to apply for a work permit is available on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

Pay special attention to the “Document Checklist” and include all requested information and documentation.

NAFTA work permit program

Under the NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) program, some professionals from the United States and Mexico are not required to have a LMIA conducted in order to obtain a work permit. To qualify, the international applicant must work in one of the professions listed in the NAFTA professions list.

International Nurses

Nursing Licensing and Registration

Prior to obtaining employment authorization to work in British Columbia, as a Temporary Foreign Worker, you will need to pursue registration with the relevant Nursing Association.

Mandatory Registration/Licensure for Nurses

Registration with the appropriate regulatory body is mandatory in British Columbia to in order to practise as a registered nurse. An applicant’s education and experience determines which British Columbia regulatory body they should register with.

All registered nurses educated outside of Canada are considered to be internationally educated nurses (IENs). All international applicants (RN) are required to make an application to the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) and may be required to undergo a substantially equivalent competency assessment (SEC) and write the NCLEX.

National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS)

All nurses who were educated outside Canada and are seeking initial registration/licensure to practice in BC as a registered nurse (RN) must first complete an application to the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS). After the NNAS notifies you by email that your application and report are complete, you may then apply to CRNBC.  When you apply to the CRNBC they will conduct a further review of your application based on your NNAS file.

Substantially Equivalent Competency Assessment (SEC)

Nursing education and practice has evolved differently in different parts of the world. As part of the application process, most internationally-educated applicants are required to complete a Substantially Equivalent Competency (SEC) assessment. The SEC assessment looks at your nursing knowledge and practice and shows how it compares to what is expected of nurses that completed their nursing program in B.C.

The assessment evaluates entry level competencies; it does not look at expert levels of nursing practice. Entry level competencies are the competences that new graduates from a B.C nursing program are required to have.

CRNBC Assessment

Once you have completed the SEC assessment a report will be sent to CRNBC summarizing the details of your assessment and identifying where differences in practice may exist in comparison to a BC grad.  Coursework will normally be recommended. Using this report and all of the documentation and information from your application, the CRNBC will do an assessment and determine your registration requirements.

Links to the Nursing Associations in British Columbia:

Registered Nurses – College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia

Registered Psychiatric Nurses – College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of British Columbia

Provisional Registration

Provisional registration allows applicants to practise as nurses in British Columbia while they wait to write the National Council Licensure Examination –Registered Nurse Exam (NCLEX-RN) in order to meet a practice requirement of the regulatory body.

Registration Tips

  • Download the IEN Applicant Handbook from the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS)
  • Apply to the NNAS
  • Collect the required documents, including documents confirming your identity and your education
  • Complete the online payment for the application process
  • Print the required secondary forms
  • Have your completed secondary forms and documents sent to the NNAS
  • Ensure all documents are complete and ready for sending. (Registered nurses – check out the CRNBC’s self-assessment tool:“Are you ready to apply for CRNBC Registration?”)
  • Ask your references for permission to use their names, and ask them to provide the College with a timely response to all requests.
  • Keep a copy of all of your documents and completed forms.
  • Once you have obtain the assessment report from the NNAS apply to either the College of Registered Nurses of BC (CRNBC).

Record the date sent and the method of sending your paperwork to the College.

Steps to obtaining a work authorization / Moving to Canada

Prior to obtaining a valid work permit, an Employer must conduct a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) before Citizenship and Immigration Canada will grant a work permit.

Obtaining a work permit:

  1. You have obtained Eligibility for registration with the relevant nursing association
  2. Apply for a position with VCH, and receive an offer of employment for a regular-full time position
  3. Provide the necessary information to VCH so we can request a positive LMIA from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
  4. On receipt of a Positive LMIA – VCH will notify you and provide a copy of the LMIA and file #.
  5. Apply for a work permit through the appropriate Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Visa Office/High Commission
  6. On receipt of a file # and notification from CIC – you will need to have a medical examination completed by a designated medical practitioner. Your spouse and dependents if accompanying you may also be required to complete a medical examination
  7. CIC will sent you a letter of invitation, you will present this to the immigration official at the port of entry and your work permit will be issued

More information on how to apply for a work permit is available on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

Pay special attention to the “Document Checklist” and include all requested information and documentation.

NAFTA work permit program

Under the NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) program, some professionals from the United States and Mexico are not required to have a LMO conducted in order to obtain a work permit. To qualify, the international applicant must work in one of the professions listed in the NAFTA professions list.

Arriving in Vancouver

Preparing Your Travel Documents:

When you land in Canada, an officer from the Canada Border Services Agency will greet you. Please ensure you have your travel documents ready for presentation.

TRAVEL DOCUMENTS

Required documentation to present to the Canada Border Services Officer includes:

  • Valid passport or travel document
  • Copy of your letter stating your work permit is approved. If you have permanent residency status, than present documents showing proof of your permanent residency.
  • If you do not have arranged employment in Canada, you will need to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family after you arrive in Canada.

Work Permit Extension

How to Extend Your Employment Authorization

A work permit is generally for a maximum of three years, and can be extended. There is no official limit to the amount of times a work permit can be extended; however, if a foreign worker is continuously requesting an extension on their work permit, Canadian Immigration may advise that they will have to apply for permanent residency if they wish to stay in Canada.

The process of obtaining an extension to a work permit is similar to that of obtaining an initial work permit. A new HRSDC labour market opinion must be obtained. Once this new labour market opinion is obtained, an application to extend a work permit can be submitted.

HOW TO APPLY

Information and application forms can be obtained at the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

All work permit renewal applications (including the applications for professionals who obtained the original permit under NAFTA) are processed at the following office:

Citizenship & Immigration

Work Permits
CPC – Vegreville
6212-55th Avenue, Unit 202
Vegreville, Alberta
T9C 1X6
Canada

The border and other ports of entry only issue initial employment authorizations. They do not process renewals.

Under NAFTA, U.S. citizens do not require HRSDC Employment Validation or Union support.

Permanent Residency

Employer-Sponsored Permanent Residency

After successfully passing a three-month probationary period, the option is available for full-time employees currently working under a work permit to apply for employer-sponsored permanent residency.

British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program

The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program is an employer-sponsored fast track version of the Skilled Worker Permanent Residency application process. Information about the program – including its fees, process and requirements – can be obtained on the WelcomeBC website. The full process takes eight to 16 months to complete.

Need more information?

If you meet the criteria and are interested in applying for permanent residency through the Provincial Nominee Program, please contact us with your questions or search our jobs now.

Relocation Assistance

Relocation assistance

New employees of Vancouver Coastal Health may be eligible for financial relocation assistance if they are posting into a “difficult to fill” regular position.

For Unionized Roles:

  1. Relocation assistance is not paid to anyone within BC who is traveling less than 150km, unless ferry travel is involved.
  2. Relocation assistance up to a maximum of $3,000 Canadian is available for new VCH employees who are traveling 150+ km from other areas of BC and going directly to their place of employment with VCH.
  3. Relocation assistance up to a maximum of $5,000 Canadian is available for new VCH employees who are traveling directly to their place of employment with VCH. To be eligible for this amount, the employee must be relocating from outside of BC.

Eligible Expenses:

Only the following expenses are eligible for relocation assistance up to the maximum approved by VCH. Original receipts (not credit card statements) must be submitted to VCH to be eligible for reimbursement.

  • Moving household goods by a professional mover
  • Travel expenses
    • Air travel for you, your spouse, and your dependent children who will be relocating to Vancouver with you (Note: Only one-way air travel is covered. If you purchase a return fare ticket, VCH will reimburse half the cost of the return flight), or
    • Train or ferry costs for employee and immediate family members, or
    • Gas for vehicle when driving directly between residence at time of offer and initial residence for employment at VCH
  • Moving truck rental (for those moving their own household goods)
  • Reasonable lodging, in the event an employee is driving
  • First month’s rent or temporary lodging upon arrival in Vancouver
  • Cost of immigration medical examination for the employee
  • Canadian High Commission – Employment Authorization for the employee (work permit)
  • Cost of qualifying/upgrading course(s) required for you to obtain CRNBC/CRPNBC eligibility (note that processing and registration fees are not covered)
  • Cost of emergency medical coverage during first three months of employment for you, your spouse, and dependent children (can be purchased upon arrival in Vancouver)

All other expenses are your responsibility.

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