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Give Migrant Nurses a Longer Visa To Help Ease Shortage - Travel Nursing - Nurses Arena Forum

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Give Migrant Nurses a Longer Visa To Help Ease Shortage by katty : December 12, 2018, 11:46:38 AM
New Zealand: Internationally qualified nurses (IQN) represent 26% of the overall practising nurse workforce in New Zealand (NCNZ, 2017a). As of 31 March 2017, New Zealand has 52,711 practising nurses. Of these, 4,337 gained their nursing qualification in the Philippines, thereby, making Filipinos the third largest ethnic group (8%) in the overall NZ nursing workforce, after NZ European/Pākehā (62%) and other European (14%) (NCNZ, 2017b).

Requirements for New Zealand registration

Graduates of nursing programmes outside New Zealand, like most Filipinos, are required to satisfy the seven requirements for NZ registration. These requirements are: submission of legal documents to prove identity; completion of a nursing qualification that is equivalent to level 7 or 8 on the NZ Qualifications Framework; high standard of written and spoken English with at least a B for each band in an OET test or at least 7.0 for each band in an IELTS Academic test; current nursing registration overseas; fitness to practise; at least two years' experience working as a registered nurse overseas, and completion of a Competency Assessment Programme (CAP) to demonstrate competence to practise in the NZ context (NCNZ, n.d.).

Cost of applying for a Competency Assessment Programme in New Zealand

There are only 16 accredited programmes which offer competency assessment for registered nurses among the list of programmes approved by the Nursing Council of New Zealand in May 2018. Enrolment in a programme costs an international applicant around NZ$6,100 to NZ$10,500 plus 15% GST on top of costs for visa application and processing of legal documents, sitting an English exam, travel to NZ (approximately NZ$1000 - $2,100 one-way, economy class), accommodation (approximately NZ $2000 for eight weeks), other living expense, medical tests (approximately NZ $1,000), insurance, uniform and other study expenses. Enrolment in a programme for a domestic applicant, on the other hand, costs around NZ$1,500 - NZ$2,300. Approximate ideal (no repeat examinations or re-application required) total expenses upon completing the CAP in eight-weeks would be NZ$17,000 - NZ$21,000 on a tight budget.

Filipino nurses and their families go to great lengths to save this amount of money. It would take years for a Filipino family to save this enrolment fee, plus a huge bank debt and loss of family assets. Thus, a repeat medical test or visa application or a re-sitting of an English exam would be a huge blow to the scarce resources available to a Filipino applicant.

Facilitating the process of obtaining nursing registration through a migrant nurse visa

Migrant nurses who enrolled in the CAP come to NZ on a limited visitor’s visa which is usually valid for only 3 months. The CAP takes an average of 9 weeks to complete, after which, the nurses need to apply for a visa extension while waiting for a license to practise. After they have obtained their license to practise, they then would need to apply for a work visa. This entails hundreds of dollars (3X visa application), a lot of time to prepare documents for the repetitive application and stress because of uncertainty. Thus, it is recommended that immigration NZ develop an IQN/CAP visa category which is valid for 9-12 months to allow migrant nurses to complete the CAP, obtain a practising certificate, and look for a job as registered nurses.

New Zealand’s nursing shortage is predicted to increase up to 15,000 by 2035 (NCNZ, 2013). Immigration NZ can therefore help resolve this problem by facilitating the process of obtaining nursing registration for IQNs.


Nursing Council of New Zealand (2013). The future Nursing workforce. Supply

projections 2010-2035.Wellington: Nursing Council of New Zealand. Retrieved


Nursing Council of New Zealand (2017a). Trends in the New Zealand Nursing

Workforce: 2012-2016. Wellington: Author.

Nursing Council of New Zealand. (2017b). The New Zealand Nursing Workforce: A

profile of Nurse Practitioners, Registered Nurses and Enrolled

Nurses 2016-2017. Wellington: Author.

Nursing Council of New Zealand. (n.d.). The requirements for New Zealand

registration. Retrieved from

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