International Nurses and UK Nursing

One of the topics that is raised frequently in the UK and International forums is how does an international nurse go about working in the UK ... Nurses Announcements Archive Article

International Nurses and UK Nursing

... The replies are often negative and in general try to convey how very difficult this is. There are lots of hoops to jump through and currently the economic situation in the UK is very grim, this means that jobs anywhere are scarce and our government is trying to keep UK citizens in work, therefore making obtaining a work visa more difficult.

Before even being considered an international nurse will need to gain UK registration, this is done via the Nursing and Midwifery council, this organisation has the responsibility to register and regulate all registered nurses and midwives in the UK. The is very informative and will give you information about what you will need to do to register, as well as details of the code of conduct, and other documents that structure our practice in the UK

The booklet which informs international nurses of what is needed to register can be found here

The register is divided into 4 different parts

  1. Adult
  2. Mental Health
  3. Child
  4. Learning disabilities

Before your application is processed you will have to pay an administration fee, and provide the required documents, this will include evidence of you passing the ILETS (the minimum score accepted is and average of 7)

You should have been practising as a nurse for at least 12 months, and if you have been qualified longer than this then you must have done at least 450 hours in the last 3 years.

There are also some specific requirements to register as a nurse in the UK, these can be found on the NMC website.

You will also have to complete and Overseas Nursing Program (ONP) with supervised practice days before you are allowed to register.

Before then being able to work in the UK you will need a work VISA as no Employer within the UK is legally allowed to consider you for work without one, as employers we are legally obliged to give work to citizens of the UK then EU first and only if the positions cannot be filled from here are we allowed to consider overseas applicants.

You are only able to apply for a VISA if you have sponsorship from a UK employer, and although the Immigration and VISA has been changed to a points based system it is actually designed to make it more difficult for international applicants to get work.

Nursing is no longer considered as a shortage occupation, unless you have significant experience in areas such as critical care or theatre specialities at a very senior level. (Band 7 and above)

If you take a look at the Borders Agency Website you can see that overseas nurses and midwives are listed as Tier 2 and will only be considered if you already have a job offer from an employer.

There have been some discussions on the international areas about studying and working in the UK, this is covered by different immigration regulations so I will address this in a different blog.

(allnurses Guide)

XB9S is an Advanced Nurse Practitioner with over 20 year’s experience in critical care and general surgery. She serves as an allnurses GUIDE.

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Boy is this bad news.

Specializes in Advanced Practice, surgery.

Some additional Links that maybe useful.

The NHS Jobs website, advice for overseas applicants

NHS Jobs

Certificates of Sponsorship

Unless an individual has the right to work in the UK through a different route, applicants will require a Certificate of Sponsorship if they are from outside of the EEA. An employer will not be able to issue of Certificate of Sponsorship for an applicant if the post can be filled by a UK or EEA resident and therefore are unlikely to consider applicants resident outside the EEA area if the post can be filled from within. NHS employers will indicate in their advertisements whether applicants from outside the UK will be considered.

For further information contact:

NHS Careers Advice for Overseas Staff

Nurses trained outside the UK and EEA

From 15 September 2008 the only route to registration for all nurses trained outside the UK and EEA with the NMC will be through the Overseas Nurses Programme (ONP). All applicants who apply for registration will be required to meet the NMC minimum requirements and undertake all or part of the ONP. The ONP is a compulsory 20-day period of protected learning and, where appropriate, a period of supervised practice.

EEA nationals who have trained outside the EEA will not be eligible for automatic recognition of their qualification under the EU Directives as they have not trained within an EU member state. Further information is available from the NMC website.

Completion of a programme does not guarantee that you will find employment within the UK.

All applications to join the NMC nurses part of the Register from individuals who trained outside the UK and EEA must include evidence of completion of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) test. You must complete the academic version of the IELTS test and achieve:

  1. At least 7.0 in the listening and reading sections
  2. At least 7.0 in the writing and speaking sections
  3. An overall average score of 7 (out of a possible 9)

The NMC will not consider applicants who score lower than this standard.

seas-trained nurses holding EC Treaty Rights who have had their qualification recognised in another EU member state and have practised in the EU/EEA for three years, will continue to be processed through the EU route.

Dear Sharrie

I have reviewed your blog and related posts regarding international nurses interested in working in the UK.

I have been working as a registered nurse in Australia for about 9 years. I hold Australian citizenship and my husband is a National of the EU (European Union). The UK border agency has informed us that for us to enter and settle (and work) in the UK all we need is a permit known as EEA (European Economic Area) family permit.

I am already registered with the Nursery and Midwifery Council.

As it stands I can easily move to the UK without any restrictions.

I would be most grateful if you could inform me whether there are agencies or organisations in your part of the UK (or in south central UK) that would be interested in hiring a foreign nurse who does not have to face any of the burocratic impediments associated with the visa immigration process and is already registered with the NMC.

I do thank you for your time and consideration

Specializes in Advanced Practice, surgery.

From your post I understand that you already meet the requirments to work in the UK because of your husband and you've already registered with the NMC so I take it you must have completed the overseas nursing course.

With that in mind all you really need to do is decide where you want to live and work and take a look at the NHS jobs website for a job in your speciality.

how about the NVQ? would like to ask if i can land a nursing job after i finished the program? i'm a registered nurse in the philippines. tnx!

Specializes in Advanced Practice, surgery.

Ho there unfortunately unless you meet one of the shortage occupTions you are unlikely to get a work visa. Additionally if th NVQ course is the 2 year program where you work as a student you will have no recent nursing experience as working as a care assistant does not count therefore you will not meet the NMC requirements for registration. The NVQ courses do not give you any ray way into working as a nurse in the UK I am afraid

Dear Sharrie,

I recently completed my Bachelors in nursing degree in the U.S. I have not started working as a nurse yet because my husband has received a job offer in the UK starting January. Since I am a national of the European Union he won't have any problems to stay and work in the UK. However, I am really scared after reading all the requirements to become registered with the NMC. I do not have 12 months experience working as a nurse. I would stay in the U.S. another year to gain the experience but I don't want to jeopardize my husbands stay in the UK since his ability to work and stay is through me. I am very saddened and disappointed right now and I am trying to find ways to make it work. Do you think I have any other options so that I can realize my dream to become a nurse in the UK? Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Thank you,


Specializes in Advanced Practice, surgery.

Hi Nicole, you will need to speak to the NMC to get a final decision but I think without the minimum required experience you are going to struggle to meet the requirements for registration. Try contacting them directly to explain your situation and see if there is anything additional you can to to meet what they are asking.

Hello Sharrie,

I'm a nurse in the Philippines. I have a job offer already from a NHS hospital in UK and waiting for my NMC decision letter. It is one thing I need to start my visa application, aside from the Certificate of Sponsorship/Work Permit. Do you think I can be given a Cert. of sponsorship considering that I have a job offer letter already? Hope you can reply. Thank you. -Gerald

Specializes in Advanced Practice, surgery.

Geralld firstly congratulations on your job offer. In answer to your question I am really not sure but I think that because your visa is dependent on your job offer and that job will require you to be registered with the NMC I suspect you will need that desicions letter first. I would advise you confirm this with the borders agency.

Please keep us informed on your progress it's always good to hear positive experiences of nurses wanting to come to the UK to work

A quick question...

I am an AIN in Australia and a s far as I understand my qualifications here do not amount to anything in the UK.

Although have not been able to receive a straight answer about being a carer in the UK.

Do you need any kind of formal qualifications to work as a carer in a nursing home in the UK or is my 2 years experience enough?

I am also a British Citizen as my dad was born in England, so I don't need to worry about and Visa's or anything like that.