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Working in the UK – a guide for overseas nurses

Tagged In:  Nursing

Brexit has focused attention on the important role that nurses from other countries play in the NHS workforce. So, we thought we'd take a look at the current situation regarding employment rules and regulations for nurses who trained overseas.

Nurses from the European Union (EU)

Until the UK formally exits the EU, there will be no changes to the arrangements for recruitment and employment of nurses from countries within the European Economic Area (EEA). If you are an EEA national (or a Swiss national), you can enter the UK without any restrictions. However, to work as a nurse here you must have your qualification checked by the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) and register with them.

You must also prove that you can speak, read, write and understand English to an acceptable standard. That means having a recent overall score of at least 7.0 in the academic version of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or providing other acceptable evidence, such as a pre-registration nursing or midwifery qualification which was taught and examined in English.

Nurses from outside the EU

Nursing is on the Government's shortage occupation list. However, employers must still carry out a Resident Labour Market Test (RMLT) before recruiting a nurse from outside the EEA, proving that no native or resident UK worker is available for the nursing job. 
The key requirements for individuals who want to work as a nurse in UK are as follows:

1. Get a visa

You must obtain a Tier 2 (General) visa. To apply, you must have a job offer and a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed sponsor.

2. Register with the NMC

You must gain professional registration with the NMC. This is a two-stage process. Firstly, you must pass a computer-based multiple-choice examination in your home country. There are standards for adult (general nursing), children's nursing, learning disabilities nursing, mental health nursing and midwifery.

Secondly, you must pass a practical objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) in the UK.  If you have employer sponsorship in place, you have up to three months from the employment start date to sit the OSCE. If you don't have employer sponsorship in place, you can enter the UK on a six-month visitor visa to take the OSCE. You are limited to three attempts to pass the OSCE as part of one application.

3. Prove you can communicate competently in English

To apply for NMC registration, you must have an overall IELTS score of 7.0 or above.

For full guidance on NMC registration for overseas nurses, click on one of the following links:

Nurses from the EU/EEA

Nurses from outside the EU/EEA

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