If you're thinking of immigrating to the UK for a nursing job, you'll need to prove your ability to understand English. For details on just what is required, read on now! About Matt Farrah - follow me on Google+

So what level of English do I need to work in England?

Rather than different expectations between employers or parts of the NHS, the level of English is determined by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. You see, to work as a nurse in the UK, you need to get your nurse visa and to get your nurse visa, you need to be registered with the NMC!

If you are coming from outside the EU, registration with the NMC requires you to have English language at an IELTS 7.0 level and for you to take part in the Overseas Nurse Programme (ONP) or Overseas Midwifery Programme (OMP). For more information, this NMC file (PDF) goes into more detail.

The NHS doesn't mention specific grades in it's information on nurse immigration; only that you need to show reasonable evidence you can read, write, speak and listen effectively with reasonable adjustments made for disability or different ability where needed.

We also can appreciate that both immigration and taking the NP are pricey endeavours so be aware that it might be possible to work as a healthcare assistant whilst you complete your ONP and NMC registration. You need to speak to employers on an individual basis but it will be worthwhile asking around.

However, it is important to remember that it's not always simple to find a place on an ONP course so please don't book your travel before you have a place unless you have a back-up plan.

What tests are there?

The main test used for checking an immigrant's English is the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). The UK Border Agency will want to check your IELTS score to grant entry into the country and it is also usually the first English Language qualification asked about for registrations, jobs and study.

Another common test is the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), also often mentioned for university courses. You can take this as an iBT (internet-based test) or as the IPT (Institutional Testing Program).

Finally, another you may come across is the PTE ( the Pearson Test of English). You might take this at a school or college or you might decide to use one of their world-wide test centres.

Remember! The IELTS, TOEFL iBT and PTE are only valid for two years after certification. Don't think you can take the test and get it out of the way whilst you save up for the ONP. Your results must have been presented within the last two years for the NMC and UKBA to consider them valid.

Can anyone help me with the immigration process?

The Royal College of Nursing has a free and confidential phone service for advice on immigrating. You can call them on 0345 408 4391 (+44345 408 4391 if outside UK). Between 12-2pm GMT there are advisers to talk to you personally. However, you can call any time between 9am and 5pm to leave a message and someone will call back as soon as possible. Alternatively, you can email on If you are having issues with your immigration, they can also provide free legal advice to save you money!

Getting started

Hopefully, you've found this guide helpful and are clear on what you need to get done next to apply for nurse jobs in the UK. Happy studying and good luck!