Nursing in Australia isn’t as easy as buying a plane ticket and getting a job. There are some very important factors you need to consider before planning to Nurse in Australia.

Two factors that are essential to nurse in Australia are – obtaining an Australian Visa and gaining AHPRA registration. The following will outline the steps involved in determining whether you’re eligible to nurse in Australia, and if so, how to plan for the process of applying.

STEP ONE: Make sure you are eligible for an Australian working visa (but don’t apply yet!)

Anyone who wants to work in Australia will need to obtain an Australian working visa. This is in addition to your passport, and is a permit allowing you to enter the Australian workforce for a certain amount of time. There are various types of Australian working visas, with many young nurses (30 years and under) entering on a Working Holiday Visa. This is a comparatively easy and cheap working visa available to people from certain countries. Nurse’s over 30, or with dependants, will most likely need to look at Skilled Migration, and the working visas that fall under that visa class.

For more information please refer to the official Australian Border.gov.au website here.

STEP TWO: Make sure you are eligible for AHPRA registration (but don’t apply yet!)

AHPRA is Australia’s Health Practitioners Regulation Authority, and you must have current registration with them in order to work as a nurse in Australia. The requirements for registration with AHPRA are many and varied, and the application process requires detailed information and supporting documentation.

Please note: In order to be eligible for AHPRA registration you must have completed a nursing qualification that meets Australian standards. Broadly speaking, this means a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing will usually suffice, but anything less, such as a Diploma or Associate’s Degree will most likely be deemed inadequate.

If you are eligible and meet the criteria for both AHPRA registration and an Australia working visa, then please continue to the following steps below.

STEP THREE: Apply for your Australian working visa

Visa processing times vary significantly. If you are planning on applying for a Working Holiday Visa, then the application process is relatively simple with passport holders of particular countries able to apply online. You can find out more about which countries are listed, by checking the official website. Working Holiday Visa processing times are also comparatively fast, with 75% of applications processed in 13 days, and 90% of applications processed in 25 days.

If you are eligible for the Skilled Migration route, be mindful that the application process is lengthy, and much more labour intensive than a Working Holiday Visa. In saying this, the visa does have significant advantages, namely, being able to stay and work in Australia permanently. There are various types of Skilled Migration visas, one of which is a Skilled Independent Visa, which is points tested. This means that visa eligibility is dependant on you gaining ‘points’ for each a set of criteria that you have met – ranging from academic qualifications, to professional experience, to English standards. Having to meet and prove this points-based eligibility, is one reason that applying for Skilled Migration can take time – with 75 per cent of applications processed in 11 months, and 90 per cent of applications processed in 15 months.

STEP FOUR: Apply for your AHPRA registration

The AHPRA application process can often be quite lengthy, mainly due to the documentation that you will need to source, gather and send away with your application form. In order to ensure that the process isn’t delayed, you must take time completing your application, ensuring that all required paperwork is attached. If a necessary document is missing, the AHPRA office will need to hold processing until you are able to source it and mail it to them. Wherever possible, AHPRA aims to complete the assessment of an international application within four to six weeks of receipt of all required documentation. In saying this, applications from overseas can sometimes be more complicated, and it is therefore best to allow eight to ten weeks.

Once your application has been assessed and you have been approved for registration, overseas applicants will be sent a letter of in principle approval of registration. You will then have three months to arrive in Australia and provide identification in person at an AHPRA office in order to be fully registered.