Nurses: Pathway to Australian Migration


It is a common knowledge that Nurses in the Philippines who recently graduated and got their licence are finding it hard to get a job in their field and some of them are even required to pay to work in a health facility.  Because of this, some of the Nurses end up working in a different job role which can still be related to Nursing but some are in a totally unrelated field – Call Centre Agents, Sales and Marketing, etc.

This then raises a question in the Nurse’s mind, that if he/she cannot find a job in the Philippines as a Registered Nurse, will they even have the chance to migrate in other countries such as Australia with very limited work experience.  In fact, even experienced Nurses also ask if they have a chance to migrate in Australia.

Below is a brief overview of Registered Nurses’ pathway to migration in Australia.

  1. Nurse Bridging Program.  This is the first major step in a Nurses’ journey to becoming an Australian Permanent Resident.  This is also called the IRON (Initial Registration for Overseas Nurses) program – a 3-month course (1-month classroom, 2-months in the workplace) which is meant to build on the Nurse’s current knowledge and transition them from practicing as a Nurse in the Philippines and introducing the Australian healthcare system.

The basic requirement to be eligible to enrol in this course is to have at least 7.0 in each band of IELTS Academic or the equivalent in OET or PTE Academic or TOEFL iBT and a letter of referral from AHPRA. Some education providers for the IRON program may also require work experience as a Registered Nurse.

For applicants who are not able to provide these basic requirements, a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing is also an option.

Once a Nurse has successfully completed the IRON program or a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing in Australia, he/she will be eligible to get an Australian RN registration.

  1. Finding an employer who can sponsor a work visa.  Once the Nurses have an Australian RN registration, they can start applying for work.  However, they have to find an employer who is willing to sponsor them on a work visa.  Getting an RN registration does not mean that a Nurse can stay and work in Australia, it will depend on the Nurse’s work rights (based on their current visa conditions) and visa validity duration.
  2. Applying for a Permanent Residency visa.   Once the Nurses have an Australian RN registration, they can start applying for a Permanent Residency visa (if they have at least 60 migration points).  This is a six to nine-month process whereby the Nurses will need to first get a positive skills assessment, and then state sponsorship (if required to reach the 60 points), an invitation to apply for a PR visa, and lastly apply for a PR visa.  The PR visa application can be done while the Nurse is in Australia (if they have a visa that allows them to stay in Australia) or even when they are back in the Philippines or other countries outside Australia.

*Johanna Bertumen Nonato is a Registered Migration Agent (MARN 1386856) and the CEO of BridgeAus Migration Consultancy (with offices in Melbourne, Australia and Makati, Philippines). Johanna is here to help you unravel your new beginnings in Australia.  For inquiries, please email or call 0427-589274.  For a free PR visa eligibility assessment, please visit

DISCLAMER: The article above is meant to provide general information on the Nurses’ pathway to Australian migration.   Other pathways may also exist depending on the applicant’s situation.  Specific advice based on your unique situation should be coursed through a Registered Migration Agent or an Immigration Lawyer.