Nurse Registration Pathways

There are many nurses who are thinking about migrating to Australia.  These nurses might still be outside of Australia or might already be here in Australia and are working through their Permanent Residency pathways.  For nurses, one of the criteria to be satisfied when applying for a PR visa (or work visa) is to have a registration issued by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).  There are different ways on how nurses can gain RN registration from AHPRA.


This article intends to provide information on the different RN registration pathways and discuss the benefits and limitations of each option.



Nurse Bridging Program


This is a course of study that can be taken within three to six months and has a work placement component.  The latest nurse bridging course fee that I found was priced at $15,900 (this is for the January 2020 intake of Deakin University, but the enrolment application for this has closed).  Expect to see higher tuition fee prices because currently, there are very few education providers that can offer this, with very limited slots.  Note that a referral letter from AHPRA is required before Internationally Qualified Nurses can enrol in this program and should also satisfy all of the AHPRA and education provider requirements (includes getting at least 7.0 score in each band of IELTS or OET B or PTE 65).  The list of AHPRA approved Nurse Bridging Program providers can be found on the link below:


The benefit of taking this registration pathway is that it takes a fraction of time to complete rather than the general registration pathway.  But it can take a longer time to prepare (since your still need to get an AHPRA referral letter) and it can also be difficult to get confirmed slots from education providers.  Deakin University opened their application for the January 2020 Nurse Bridging Program intake in September 2019 and it closed in just a day.  Other education providers have over a thousand applications in the queue for assessment.



General Registration


This registration pathway entails taking up Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Nursing from AHPRA approved education providers (the list of approved providers can also be found on the link shown above). The course duration can be between 1-4 years with tuition fees ranging from $20,000 to $45,000 per year depending on your chosen education provider.  Nurses with registration from overseas and have graduated or have worked as a nurse within five years from the time of application may be eligible for course unit credits, which can lessen the course of study duration.


The benefit of this registration pathway is that an AHPRA letter of referral is not required and some universities accept students without their English exam results showing at least 7.0 in each band of IELTS or OET B or PTE 65,  if the student is willing to take up English language classes as an alternative to providing English test results.  This pathway also gives the student enough time to learn and settle in a new environment as his or her student visa duration will be longer.  Students who complete at least two years of study in Australia (Bachelor’s or Master’s degree) will be eligible for a graduate visa (which gives the students two years of stay in Australia with unlimited work rights). However, the main disadvantage of taking up this course is the cost.   Tuition fee costs can be between $25,000 to $40,000 a year and because the visa is longer the health insurance cost will also be higher.



Outcome Based Assessment (OBA)



This is a new registration pathway which was announced by the NMBA to start in January 2020.  From the 1st of October 2019, Internationally Qualified Nurses will be given a choice (by NMBA) either to go for the Nurse Bridging Program or for the OBA.


The OBA comprises of a multiple-choice online exam (cognitive assessment), a clinical exam (behavioural assessment), and an orientation program. It is a mandatory requirement for the applicants to pass the cognitive assessment before they can move on to the clinical assessment. Since the complete details of the OBA are not available yet, its benefits and limitations are still unclear.  This is something that we will all have to observe and see.  General information about the OBA can be found on the link below:



It is best that you consult with a Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer if you want to discuss how these registration pathways affect your chance of getting a Permanent Residency visa in Australia based on your circumstance and objectives.