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The Caring Support Blog

International Nurses in Ontario

December 1, 2021

Updated March 6, 2023

If you’re an international nurse wanting to work in Canada, you’re in luck! Ontario has a strong need for nurses. In fact, they have shortages of nurses; and this means that there are plenty of positions available for qualified candidates who wish to work internationally.

Ontario is a popular province for international nurses that come to Canada looking for a better life. In the last 10 years, more than 25,000 nurses have immigrated to the country, according to Employment and Social Development Canada; and it’s safe to say that a great number of them relocated specifically to Ontario, as the province has around 56% of all nurses across Canada.

It is important to note that Canada is currently going through a nursing shortage due to the fact that many nurses are changing careers and others are retiring. That’s why projections indicate that next year, 2022, the country will need about 60,000 additional nurses to cover the local demand. As a result, international nurses will continue to play a great role in healthcare because they provide what the country and each province need more, which is trained and skilled nursing professionals.

This blog is for anyone who's interested in becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) or Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) in Ontario and meets the following conditions as stated by the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO):

  1. you are a graduate of a nursing program outside of Canada and;
  2. you are not currently registered as a nurse in the same category in any part of Canada.

Read More: RPN vs. RN - What are the differences?

You likely meet most of the fundamental requirements to work as a nurse in Canada if you received your training internationally or in your home country. Take note that the criteria for international-trained nurses to be registered in Canada are set by the nursing societies in each province and territory.

So if you’re looking at working as a nurse in Canada, keep reading!

How Can An International Nurse Become a Nurse in Canada?

International nurses who wish to practice as a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) in Canada must meet the requirements of the Canadian nursing regulatory bodies

Certain documents, including the police criminal background check, must be sent by a third party. To avoid any delays at the conclusion of the application procedure, make sure you account for these documents. If you are not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you will need to obtain a work permit to work as a nurse in Canada. You can apply for a work permit through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The following are the general steps to become a nurse in Canada as an international nurse:

  1. Determine eligibility
  2. Apply to a nursing regulatory body
  3. Complete a competency assessment
  4. Find a job

On top of that, international nurses need to provide evidence of language proficiency in either English or French, meet College requirements related to health and conduct, and report past offences, findings, and other matters. These requirements seem difficult, but once international nurses complete each one of them, they will be approved for a license to practice nursing and will be able to work in any organization within the province, so the efforts are worth it.

Beginning Your Application

The registration process begins as soon as you create an account with the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS). The NNAS is the national organization in charge of gathering paperwork and evaluating international-trained nurses who are applying to work as RNs and RPNs in Ontario. Upon the creation of your NNAS account, NNAS will advise you of the papers required for verification of your identity, nursing education, registration, and prior experience.

These include documents about:

  1. identity (e.g., passport, birth certificate, driver’s license)
  2. nursing education (e.g., verification forms, transcripts, course descriptions)
  3. nursing registration (e.g., verification forms from all jurisdictions where you have been registered as a nurse)
  4. employment (e.g., verification forms from organizations where you have worked/volunteered within the past 5 years)
  5. language proficiency (e.g., test results)

The following are the core responsibilities of NNAS:

  1. receives, reviews and stores all documents that you or others submit
  2. ensures your file contains documents the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) requires to determine if you meet the registration requirements
  3. ensures that your documents are valid and not falsified
  4. evaluates your education documents against Canadian standards
  5. prepares a report about your nursing education, registration history and practice
  6. sends the completed file to CNO

Once NNAS has authenticated and verified the required documents and conducted its assessment of your nursing education, you will receive instructions for applying to CNO.

CNO will not start your application process until they receive:

  1. a request from you to begin the process of applying to register in Ontario
  2. the fee required to begin the registration process
  3. a report from NNAS about your nursing education, registration history and work experience

See Registration Requirements for further information about each of these requirements.

  1. Nursing Education
  2. Evidence of Practice
  3. Registration Examination
  4. Jurisprudence Examination
  5. Proficiency in English or French
  6. Citizenship
  7. Past Offenses and Findings
  8. Health and Conduct

How to Transfer a Nursing License to Canada?

The Canadian Nursing Association has a list of requirements for international nurses to work in Canada. You will need to complete an assessment process and submit your documents before you can apply for a license.

The process includes:

  1. Completing an application form that includes information about your education, training and experience.
  2. Submitting supporting documentation such as degrees/diplomas/certificates, letters of reference from previous employers or professors who taught you at school, copies of professional licenses (if applicable), proof of English language tests, official transcripts from all schools attended including those outside of Canada (if applicable)
  3. Have a Social Insurance Number (SIN) which is government issued. You need to contact the College of Nurses in the province or territory in which you wish to be registered. They will usually require a copy of your transcript and references. Assuming these are acceptable, you will then be permitted to write the Canadian National Registered Nurse Exam.

When you have met these criteria, including police checks, you can apply for work as an RN in Canada.

International Nurses Are Welcome to Work in Ontario.

The Canadian Nurses Association has a special section for international nurses. If you are interested in working in Ontario and want to find out about the process for applying for your license as an international nurse, this is a great place to start.

The Canadian Nurses Association can help you find jobs in Canada as well as get your nursing license transferred from another country (if necessary).

For more information about registering as a nurse in Ontario, visit:

Job Opportunities For International Nurses In Ontario

International nurses in Ontario have many job opportunities, whether they have completed the process to become RNs or not. The province has multiple facilities where they can put their skills to work in favour of patients, such as long-term care residents, hospital patients, children, people with disabilities in their own homes, and more.

For nurses who have not yet completed the registration process to join the CNO, a great alternative is working as a Developmental Service Worker (DSW), an occupation that focuses on supporting children and adults with developmental disabilities. This role could be a good match for them because many of the things that DSWs do are similar to what nurses do in long-term care and other settings.

Another option for international nurses is becoming a personal support worker (PSW), as we explain in this other article. The roles would allow them to work in the healthcare field supporting nurses and sometimes even doctors, have direct contact with patients, learn about Canadian healthcare, and gain work experience to keep developing their careers.

The main benefit of working as a DSW or a PSW for international nurses in Ontario is not having to go through the process of getting the certification to practice nursing in the province, pass the tests and meet the requirements. They simply have to complete a relatively short DSW program or PSW course (there are cases where this isn't even necessary) and then get out there and start looking for jobs. One great way to do this is by joining our platform.

The Caring Support platform is perhaps the best source of employment opportunities for international nurses in Ontario right now, as it is a space where they can find DSW jobs or PSW jobs, and many others, as well as connect with employers and stay up-to-date with everything that's happening in the field.

Plus, when you fill out your profile you have the option to indicate more than one language (English + French, Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish, etc.) which will increase the chances of employers contacting you since they are constantly looking for caregivers who can communicate with patients from multiple nationalities.

Nursing job for International Nurses in Ottawa, Canada

Ottawa is a great city to live in. It’s bilingual and multicultural, with many international students and residents coming from all over the world. That said, international nurses are totally welcome to work in Ottawa, Canada. How To Find Healthcare Jobs In Ottawa?

Further Resources

To learn more about nursing education in Ontario, the province’s health care system, or how to access programs and services designed to help newcomers, please visit one of the following sites:

How Does Caring Support Help International Nurses to Find a Job Quickly?

The Caring Support platform offers you the best job opportunities as a healthcare worker. We will do our best to make sure that you land your dream job in the healthcare industry and as a caregiver. If you’re in Canada and looking for a caregiver job this is your chance to join our platform and explore the tons of job offers that we have on our platform and search for the right job that suits you.

A Canadian healthcare system is a great place for international nurses to work. The Canadian Nurses Association has more information on how to become a nurse in Canada, as well as information on licensing requirements and other helpful resources. If you have questions about this process or anything else related to nursing in Ontario, leave a comment below.

Thank you for reading!

About The Author
Denson Natividad
Sales & Marketing Assistant

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