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International & Out of Province Applicants

We welcome trained local and out of province health care professionals to apply for our jobs. Although the process to emigrate to Canada can be involved, you will immediately appreciate your efforts upon arrival to Canada’s beautiful 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!

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.

Obtaining a work permit

For more information about how to apply for a work permit, visit: www.canada.ca

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 BCCNP.  When you apply to the BCCNP, 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.

BCCNM Assessment

Once you have completed the SEC assessment a report will be sent to BCCNM 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 BCCNM will do an assessment and determine your registration requirements.

Registered Nurses  & Registered Psychiatric Nurses – British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM)

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
  • 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 British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM)

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

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.


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.

Professional Registration

Professional Registration

In order to practice your profession in British Columbia, you will be required to register with the appropriate statutory body. Learn more.

Work Permit Extension

How to Extend Your Employment Authorization

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


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 BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) Skills Immigration – Health Care Professional stream is intended for workers or international graduates with the skills, education and/or experience for high-demand health care professional occupations in BC.

To understand the program requirements and process, review the British Columbia Immigration Program guide, and if eligible, apply online for the Skills Immigration – Health Care Professional category. If approved as a provincial nominee, you and your dependent family members can apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to become permanent residents of Canada through the accelerated Provincial Nominee Class.

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 BCCNP 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 incurred are the responsibility of the new employee.

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