Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to the most commonly asked questions surrounding licensing (registration), financial supports (bursaries), return of service and immigration.
On April 19th, 2022, the Province of British Columbia announced several new strategies that will make it easier for internationally educated nurses to enter the province’s health system. Health Match BC, in partnership with the BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM), the Nursing Community Assessment Service (NCAS) and the Provincial Ministry of Health, will support IENs who want to work in BC by consolidating the assessment processes for nurses, offering approximately $9 million in financial support (bursaries) to help with application and assessment fees, and create a new navigation services team to help IENs successfully navigate the licensing process.
Health Match BC is a free recruitment service funded by the Government of British Columbia, Canada. We facilitate the recruitment of nurses, physicians, and allied health professionals on behalf of BC’s publicly funded health employers.
Health Match BC, through its navigation team, will support internationally educated nurses throughout their journey to practice in BC. The team will provide customized support in assisting candidates to navigate their licensing and registration applications. Health Match BC will also provide information and access to financial supports, in the form of bursaries, and guide candidates throughout the immigration process.
Through Health Match BC’s recruitment team, IENs will be supported in accessing career opportunities with BC’s public health employers.
Yes! British Columbia offers a wide range of nursing opportunities in all areas of nursing practice as well as a variety of settings including large urban centres, medium and small cities, and rural and small communities.
The wide range of opportunities enable nurses to find the perfect fit for their professional preferences, career growth, and family needs. Opportunities also exist for career development in acute care (medical/surgical, intensive care unit, operating room, and emergency room) as well as ambulatory care, rehabilitation, long-term care, leadership/administrative, public health, community health and primary care.
Yes, to work in BC as a nurse you must have provisional or practising registration with the BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM).
The licensing (registration) process in BC can vary depending on an individual’s education, credentials, and experience. All IENs must have their international credentials and English language proficiency assessed, apply to the Nursing Community Assessment Service (NCAS) and the BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM).
Some IENs may require a competency assessment and/or transitional education, and successfully complete a registration exam before becoming licensed as a fully practising nurse. Health Match BC’s Navigation team is available to help you understand and navigate the registration process and requirements.
During the NCAS application process you may be asked to provide the results from an acceptable English language proficiency test, either the Canadian English Language Benchmark Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic test. You can learn more about English language requirements here.
NCAS is a competency assessment service for nurses and health care assistants seeking licensing (registration) in British Columbia (BC). NCAS reviews the IEN applicant’s credential assessment and English language proficiency, and administers a two-part nursing competency assessment (computer-based and simulation-based). This competency assessment evaluates the applicant’s nursing skills, knowledge and practice against competencies required for entry-level practice in BC for each specific nursing (or health care assistant) role.
As nursing education and practice differ from one country to another, most internationally educated nurses need to complete the NCAS assessment, before the BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) makes a registration decision for a nursing license.
The triple-track assessment will allow internationally educated nurses to have their competencies assessed for three professions – registered nurse, licensed practical nurse and health care assistant – in a single process. In assessing your competency for multiple professions at once, the triple-track assessment can expand your career options and help you find work faster in British Columbia. You can learn more here.
- I'm already registered for an NCAS assessment but haven't completed it yet. Can I take the triple-track assessment instead?
Yes. If you have an active referral as an RN or LPN, you can upgrade to the triple-track assessment by contacting NCAS directly.
The NCAS assessment includes two parts, a Computer-Based Assessment (CBA) and a Simulation Lab Assessment (SLA). For RN (Registered Nurse) and LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) assessments, the CBA may be completed in a number of Prometric testing centres located in countries around the world. However, the SLA component must be completed in-person in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. For RPN (Registered Psychiatric Nurse) assessments, both the CBA and SLA assessments are available via remote proctoring.
- Can an Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN) referred to NCAS through the BC Care Aide and Community Health Worker Registry qualify for triple track?
An internationally educated nurse will only be referred for a triple track assessment once they have their international credentials assessed through one of the approved credentialling agencies and they meet the English language proficiency requirements set by BCCNM. NCAS will advise the IEN if they meet all the criteria for triple track at this time.
Financial Support (Bursaries)
Through Health Match BC, the Province of BC will be supporting internationally educated nurses with financial support, in the form of bursaries, to offset some of the costs of becoming licensed to work in BC.
The available bursaries apply to any NCAS-approved Education Credential Assessment (ECA) reports, English language proficiency testing, and educational upgrading required by BCCNM.
Some nurses may qualify for a travel stipend to cover costs associated with travel within BC to the NCAS assessment site in Vancouver, BC.
IENs must commit to a Return of Service (ROS) agreement with the BC Ministry of Health to have their NCAS and BCCNM fees waived.
Additional bursaries (reimbursements) are available to IENs who commit to a Return of service (ROS) agreement and meet the following criteria:
- NOT currently hold (or have previously held) registration as a Registered Nurse in any other province or territory in Canada.
- BC must be the only province or territory the applicant has applied for registration as a Nurse. If the applicant has active applications for registration in any other Canadian province or territory, those applications must be withdrawn.
- Have applied for registration with BCCNM (for applications prior to January 31, 2023) or to NCAS (for applications January 31, 2023, and beyond).
- Have a Canadian Social Insurance Number (SIN). Applicants without a valid SIN may be eligible but will not receive payment until they have a valid Canadian SIN.
- Have incurred costs on or after May 1, 2021 and have or will complete the BCCNM registration process on or after May 1, 2022.
Note: Applicants who choose to pay the NCAS assessment and BCCNM application fees themselves may still apply for bursary reimbursement of these fees at a later date if all the bursary eligibility criteria have been fulfilled.
Eligible IENs are reimbursed for the qualifying costs incurred up to the noted bursary maximum with proof of payment.
Yes, if you currently receive EI, you may still proceed with your bursary application for financial support.
For IENs starting the NCAS and BCCNM process from January 31, 2023 onward, you do not need a SIN to have your NCAS assessment and BCCNM application fees waived.
A valid SIN is not required to apply for the IEN bursary program, but you will need one to receive a bursary payment (reimbursement). If you are not currently residing in Canada and are eligible for the bursaries, you will be reimbursed once you obtain your SIN and Canadian bank account information for direct deposit.
The English Language Test (ELT) bursary is available for up to two (2) attempts of a BCCNM-accepted test, whether an applicant is successful or not. Funding is up to $400 per test and is based on official receipts from a recognized English Language Proficiency Test. Receipts for tests must be dated on or after May 1, 2021.
- I was directed by the BCCNM to undertake remedial education and/or was issued a registration decision. Am I eligible for reimbursement?
Costs associated with remedial education that is required to obtain BCCNM registration may be reimbursed up to a maximum of $10,000 on a course by course or semester by semester basis if the costs occurred on or after May 1, 2021.
- I am nearing the end of the registration process (i.e., obtained a credential assessment, completed the NCAS assessment, and applied to BCCNM). Am I eligible for financial support (bursary)?
Eligible costs associated with credential assessment, acceptable English language proficiency testing, NCAS, BCCNM application, and costs associated with remedial education required by the BCCNM that an IEN incurred after May 1, 2021, may be eligible for reimbursement as long as the IEN did not obtain BCCNM registration and begin working before May 1, 2022.
IENs who obtained an LPN registration in BC but were hoping to be considered for an RN registration could qualify for financial supports to be assessed against the RN competencies and/or obtain an educational bursary for remedial education to become an RN.
IENs are encouraged to contact the Health Match BC Navigation team if they have additional questions.
- I have completed NCAS and received direction from the BCCNM to take remedial education. Can I apply for the NCAS bursary and the remedial education bursary?
Yes, if you have been issued a BCCNM decision letter (e.g., an RN who is asked to take remedial education), you can access both bursaries, NCAS and remedial education.
- I will soon be registered as an LPN, but I would like to reapply as an RN. Would I be eligible for financial support?
If you are registered as an LPN in BC and want to start your RN registration process with the BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM), those costs would be eligible for financial support through bursaries.
Return of Service
The return of service agreement is an agreement between you and the Province of British Columbia that you will commit to complete 12 months of continuous service with a publicly funded health sector employer within BC within six months following receipt of your provisional or full nursing registration from the BCCNM (or registration with the BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry). This ROS is in exchange for accepting financial supports. The ROS period is extended to two years if the IEN obtains employment of 0.5 FTE (part-time) or less, and it will also be extended during absences. The ROS commitment would pause during non-working periods.
Public sector employers include regional health boards designated under section 4(1) of the Health Authorities Act or Provincial Health Services Authority (collectively a “Health Authority”) or Providence Health Care OR at long-term care or assisted living (AL) facility, private or public, as long as the facility is publicly funded. Qualified employers EXCLUDE contract agencies supplying temporary and/or short-term staffing solutions to eligible facilities.
If you cannot complete your return of service and voluntarily leave your Qualifying Employer(s) during the ROS Period, you will be required to repay the Province the amount of the bursary that is proportional to the percentage of the ROS Period that has not been completed.
If there is a compelling reason for not completing the ROS, the Province may waive repayment based on compassionate grounds. You would need to contact the Province at firstname.lastname@example.org.
No, employment with any publicly funded health employer within BC will qualify for your return of service.
There are many job opportunities available across the province. Health Match BC will provide assistance in finding a suitable position, and you are required to make your best effort to find a suitable position.
If six months has elapsed since licensure or registration and you are still unable to secure employment to meet the ROS requirements, please contact email@example.com.
Yes, however, if you resign from your job with a Qualifying Employer(s) during the ROS Period, you will need to provide at least two weeks advance notification from your end date.
- Is full-time employment required, or can I work two part-time jobs or casual to fulfill the return of service?
You can concurrently hold and work in multiple qualifying part-time positions; however, casual employment does not fulfill the requirements for the ROS.
The FTE for each Qualifying Position will be added together to calculate the FTE.
If your position is 0.5 FTE (part-time) or less, your ROS period will be extended to 2 years.
- Can I take vacation, maternity/paternity leave, or other leaves of absence during my return of service?
Yes, however, your return of service period will be extended if a leave of absence is greater than 20 days (other than authorized vacation from the employer).
- If I receive a job offer in another province where my family lives, can I transfer my return of service to that province, or can that province buy out my return of service commitment with BC?
No, you must complete your return of service with a publicly funded health employer within BC and repay the proportionate amount of the bursary based on the remaining time left on your ROS.
Yes, upon completion of the ROS Period, you will need to submit a letter to the province from your employer(s) confirming the ROS Period has been completed in full using the Return of Service Fulfillment Confirmation Form. For more information, please contact the Province at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Can I apply for the BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) – Health Authority Category from outside of Canada?
Yes, however, you would normally require a BC nursing license prior to being accepted into the program. You must also meet the eligibility requirements of the program. This includes:
- An offer of permanent, full-time employment with a provincial health authority
- Meeting the education, training, experience and qualification requirements outlined by the provincial health authority
- A written offer of employment on official company letterhead from the employer
- Evidence that you meet the minimum income requirements
- English language proficiency (if applicable)
- Is Health Match BC my legal representative for the BC Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) – Health Authority pathway?
No. Health Match BC is not a legal representative for the BC PNP. Authorized representatives are immigration consultants who are full members in good standing with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council, or lawyers who are members in good standing with the Law Society of BC or another law society in Canada. To apply to the BC PNP, you do not have to use an immigration consultant or lawyer.
The BC PNP reviews all applications equally, regardless of whether they were prepared with the assistance of a representative. Your application will not receive special attention or faster processing if it was completed using the services of a representative.
You should start your application as soon as you accept a formal job offer with a sponsoring publicly funded health employer within BC.
Yes. As part of your permanent residency application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), you will include information about your spouse and any dependent children.
- My nomination for BC Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) has been approved, am I eligible to work in BC?
No. A nomination by the BC PNP does not allow you to work. You must apply and obtain a temporary work permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). BC PNP does not apply for a work permit on your behalf.
Further information about immigration options are available online through the Government of Canada website.