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.
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 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.
- 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:
- You have obtained Eligibility for registration with the relevant nursing 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
- On receipt of a Positive LMIA – VCH will notify you and provide a copy of the LMIA and file #.
- Apply for a work permit through the appropriate Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Visa Office/High Commission
- 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
- 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.