As you may be aware, I have moved to Australia and am currently working as a nurse, having previously nursed in Belfast. I receive a lot of messages on how I made the move and what people need to do to become a nurse in Australia. Therefore, I thought it may be beneficial to compose a blog about what to do and offer some tips that I wish had been offered to me. It is no easy task becoming a nurse in Australia and is a complete minefield when you first start to research the process, especially if you do everything yourself. However, it is completely do-able and totally worth it when you receive your registration. I had considered hiring a migrant agent to help me as it seemed so confusing, however, it is a simple process when you break everything down and take your time. You will save a fortune doing it yourself and if I can do it, anyone can!
First things first. You will have to join AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency). From the website you can download the form for international nurses. The form is called AGOS-40 and can be downloaded from here. There is lots of helpful information on the site, make sure you read every link available, it will save you time in the long run. If you have studied the nursing degree in the UK, passed everything and graduated, then you should meet all the registration requirements. You will need to ask your university to send your university transcripts directly to AHPRA. This is basically a break down of everything you have done at university, e.g. your hours of study and placements, topics covered etc. etc. The address to post this to will be at the end of the application form. Just pick a city that you want your documents to go to (to be honest it doesn’t matter which city, I picked Sydney because I was coming here). You can organise this before you even start your application form. AHPRA will set up a case file for you as soon as your first document arrives to them. All other documents, including your application form will be added to your case file.
Ok so let’s go through the application form. Sections A and B are self explanatory. Section C: Proof of identity can be tricky. You have to provide 1 piece of evidence from categories A, B and C. For category A, if you are using an overseas passport with current Australian visa, you can apply for a holiday visa for free here. This will suffice for the AHPRA application. If you do this, you should be ok for categories B and C.
Section D is fine, section E you will most likely be answering with NO. You will need to attach certified copies of your qualifications. You will also need to write out a list of all your qualifications, including A levels, GCSEs etc.
Section F is registration history. You previously were able to get a certificate of registration from the NMC website here. However, it now states you can get this from your original school of training. Section G you will need to attach an updated version of your CV. Section H is criminal history. Question 16 you will be answering YES. You will have to carry out an international criminal history check. You can find this here. Question 17 will determine your English competency. You will complete a list of your schools and state that they taught you in English. It is good to organise a letter from the schools to state that you were taught in English. If the schools cannot send this directly to AHPRA, you can print the email and have it certified by a justice of the peace. Alternatively you can complete and English language test with IELTS. Question 21 regarding indemnity insurance, the answer will be YES. The following questions are fine. There is a great checklist at the end to ensure you have answered everything correctly, it is best to use this. There is a payment to be made of $520.
Having completed the application form, you can then decide which visa will be best for you. If you are under 31 and have never been in Australia, you can apply for the working holiday visa here.
If you cannot apply for this, you can apply for the sponsorship skilled migration visa. You can find details here. To be honest, this has changed a lot recently and causes much confusion. Basically you will will need to find a company that is willing to sponsor you in Australia. This is difficult for nurses if you want to live in the big cities. If you want to see more rural Australia then this could be for you. Many hospitals in more rural settings will offer sponsorship with great benefits.
Another option is to apply for permanent residency. Information can be found here.You will have to carry out an English test for this (IELTS is a great one to do and available in many big cities across the UK). Details can be found here. You will also have to gain a skills assessment. For nurses this can be done with ANMAC (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council) and can be completed here. This works similarly to AHPRA in that you can send all the relevant documents straight to ANMAC or have your university etc send them directly to ANMAC. They will set up a case file for you so documents can keep arriving to them and kept in one place. If you are doing this skills assessment, it is best to send all your documents needed to AHPRA and ANMAC at the same time, that way you are not asking different people to send things twice, it can be done at the same time (I hope this makes sense). After all this, you can set up an account with the department of immigration and border protection. A tool called skill select is used to see if your skills are needed in Australia. You will submit an expression of interest here. When you receive a reply (usually pretty quick) you will know whether you can continue to apply for the visa through skill select. You will be advised then how many points you need to gain entry (think this is 60 points) and how you will gain the points needed. If you reach the number of points needed, you can apply for permanent residency! The application is completed online and is pretty straightforward. You can upload your documents needed directly to your skill select account. You can find out the outcome usually within a few months.
I know this has been a really long blog but I hope it will give some insight for those nurses seeking to work and live in Australia. Just remember, if you are sending copies of documents, you will need to have them all certified. A justice of the peace will do these for free. If you choose a solicitor you may well be charged for each document being signed. AHPRA provide information here on who can certify documents, this is pretty standard for all documents being sent to Australia.
If you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be only to happy to help in any way that I can. Ps. I found www.britishexpats.com really helpful when I was doing all this. It is a forum for like minded nurses looking to emigrate. It was amazing when looking for advice.
Ok fellow nurses, thanks for reading and good luck!!!