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How to Migrate to Canada as a Nigerian Nurse

Nigeria has a large and growing population of skilled nurses, however limited opportunities at home have led many to consider migrating abroad for work. Canada presents an attractive option due to its high demand for nurses and quality of life. However, the process of migrating as a nurse to Canada from Nigeria requires careful planning and preparation.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll breakdown everything you need to know about migrating to Canada as a Nigerian nurse – from eligibility requirements and assessing your qualifications, to understanding the different immigration pathways, language tests, licensing, and tips for finding your first nursing job once arrived. By the end, you’ll have all the information necessary to successfully migrate and launch your nursing career in Canada.

Assessing Your Eligibility and Qualifications

The first step is to realistically assess whether you meet the basic eligibility requirements for immigration under the various pathways available to skilled nurses. Canada has stringent standards for education, licensing, language ability and work experience that must be met.

To assess your qualifications, you’ll need to gather the following documents:

  • Certificate of Registration from the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) confirming you are a registered nurse.
  • Bachelor’s degree transcript and certificate in Nursing from an accredited university in Nigeria. Degrees must be equivalent to a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) in Canada.
  • Any diplomas or certificates for postgraduate nursing specializations like midwifery, public health, etc.
  • Transcript and certificate for your BLSO. This is a compulsory licensing exam for all Nigerian nurses.
  • Work references and experience letters from hospitals, clinics, and other employers proving a minimum of one to two years of paid full-time nursing work experience post-qualification.
  • Language test results proving proficiency in English or French at the levels required by immigration programs. More on language requirements later.

Have these documents professionally evaluated to verify they are valid and equal to Canadian standards. This process, called educational credential assessment (ECA), is mandatory for immigration applications.

Understanding the Main Immigration Pathways

There are three main immigration pathways available for Nigerian nurses wanting to migrate permanently to Canada:

1. Federal Skilled Worker Program

  • Requires an Express Entry profile with a minimum Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of around 460 points.
  • Points are awarded based on age, education, language ability, work experience, adaptability factors etc. Registered nurses can normally qualify under this stream.
  • Processing time is 6-12 months once invited to apply for permanent residency.

2. Provincial Nominee Programs

  • Individual Canadian provinces/territories nominate immigrants to fill local labor needs.
  • As a nurse, you’d apply under the stream of that particular province you wish to live/work in like Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia etc.
  • Streamlined process with job offers and quicker permanent residency within 6 months in some cases. High demand for nurses.

3. Canadian Experience Class

  • For those already working temporarily in Canada with a valid work permit for at least 1 year in a skilled NOC occupation like nursing.
  • Processing time similar to Provincial Nominee Programs once eligibility criteria is met through Canadian work experience.

Understanding the subtle differences between these major immigration pathways will help you determine the best option based on your individual profile and circumstances. Unless already in Canada, Provincial Nominee Programs may offer the most promising route for nurses.

Assessing Your Language Ability

All major immigration pathways require proficiency in either English or French at levels outlined by the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB). As a healthcare professional, the minimum language requirements are:

  • CLB 7 for English listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  • CLB 8 for French listening, speaking and reading. CLB 7 for French writing.

You need official language test results no more than 2 years old from approved exams like IELTS or CELPIP to submit with your application. Scores depend on program but most require:

  • IELTS – Minimum score of 7 in each band
  • CELPIP – Minimum score of 8 in each domain

Consider enrolling in an English language training program in Nigeria or taking online courses to improve your skills if needed before booking a test. Language ability is crucial for success in nursing and life in Canada.

Getting Your Qualifications Assessed and Licensed

Before you can work as a registered nurse in Canada, your nursing education and license from Nigeria must be fully recognized. This involves:

  • Educational credential assessment by an organization like CGFNS, ICES or WES to verify your degree and clinical hours are equal to a BSN in Canada.
  • Registration with the Canadian Nurses Association to begin the process of obtaining a nursing license. Usually requires writing the CNAT exam.
  • Meeting the language proficiency, education and licensing requirements of the licensing body in your destination province like the College of Nurses of Ontario.

Some provinces like Ontario offer bridging programs if your credentials are missing specific Canadian clinical courses or content. Overall, the process can take 6-12 months and cost over $2000 including exams, assessment, and application fees.

Timelines vary, so get licensed or enrolled in a bridging program as early as possible for a smoother transition to nursing work in Canada. Without a valid license, you cannot practice as a regulated nurse.

Exploring Your Immigration Options

Now that your qualifications have been assessed, it’s time to carefully consider which immigration pathway may best suit your profile and target the accompanying requirements:

  • Federal Skilled Worker program if you have minimum 1-2 years experience as a nurse in Nigeria with sufficient points for Express Entry.
  • Provincial Nominee Programs if you are eligible to apply directly to a high demand province like Alberta without a job offer, else leverage job opportunities to satisfy a provincial nomination.
  • Consider Express Entry federal streams like Canadian Experience Class after spending at least 12 months working in Canada on an open work permit.

Creating a detailed profile on Express Entry and job searching from Nigeria also opens up new options. Connect with registered immigration consultants for expert advice tailored to your documents and career goals in Canada.

Scoring a Job Offer with Express Entry

Under Express Entry, registering a strong profile including certificates, language scores, education and experience increases your chances of being invited to apply for permanent residency from the federal pool of eligible candidates.

Job offers further boost ranking points into the highly competitive system. As a nurse, explore opportunities on popular job boards that match skilled immigrants with employers through:

  • Connecting employers (via their international recruiters) to immigrant talent pools.
  • Temporary foreign worker/Labour Market Impact Assessment job pathways.
  • Connecting to provincial nominee job banks that actively scout for high demand positions and facilitate nominations.

A bridging program plus aggressive job applications once in Canada also increases chances of securing early Canadian experience valuable for Express Entry. Be proactive in networking and marketing your skills to employers through all available channels.

Relocating to Canada

Once your permanent residency as a skilled nurse is approved, it’s time to move to Canada and prepare for your new career. Here are some tips for a smooth transition:

  • Apply for a bridging or supervised practice visa to lawfully work while completing licensing requirements.
  • Secure short term housing through an furnished rental or Airbnb for 2-6 months upon arrival while apartment hunting.
  • Ship important documents and limited possessions ahead via a shipping/removal company.
  • Open a Canadian bank account before travelling for direct deposits.
  • Research moving logistics and costs for shipping one car or personal belongings container load.
  • Get familiar with your destination city by exploring local job boards, communities and cost of living in advance.
  • Budget for initial settling in expenses over the first few months until first regular paycheck.

With thorough preparation and utilizing available support networks in Canada, transitioning as a Nigerian nurse shouldn’t be too overwhelming. Stay organized and positive.

Succeeding as a Nurse in Canada

With the right credentials, experience and resilience, thriving as a nurse in Canada is certainly achievable for skilled Nigerian immigrants. Here are some final tips:

  • Connect with established associations and multicultural nursing organizations for mentoring and industry events.
  • Consider smaller hospitals and rural settings with nursing shortages for potential jobs and on-the-job learning while gaining Canadian experience.
  • Become fluent in healthcare terminology, policies and procedures unique to Canada. Continuing education is an ongoing job requirement.
  • Adapt to Canadian cultural norms seamlessly and ensure uninterrupted immigration status through work/travel permits.
  • Seek out leadership and specialization opportunities with experience over time to advance your career and earning potential.
  • Build confidence, and watch out for imposter syndrome despite your vast experience back home. You are more than qualified to succeed here.

With patience and perseverance, becoming a fully licensed registered nurse in Canada is just the beginning of a bright future. Success comes through hard work, continuous learning and embracing all that Canada has to offer skilled immigrants like you.

In conclusion, migrating to pursue a career in nursing abroad takes dedication but opens doors to new experiences and opportunities in Canada. By following the guidelines in