Hi everyone! It's been such a long time since I've posted anything on my blog. If you look through my post from 2 years back, I wrote about my pathway to being an Aussie RN. This write-up is similar only with add-ons from my personal experience.
In 2014, I decided to fly here to Australia and like most of you who are reading this now, I was completely clueless. Fast forward to 2017, I am now an Aussie RN working in beautiful tropical Cairns (where the Great Barrier Reef is at) in Northern Queensland. I'm on a Permanent Resident visa too. Here is my Journey and the How-To's.
First... To be an Aussie RN, you have to do either a Bridging course or a conversion course. A bridging course is a quick 3 month course to train you on Australian nursing standards. This will cost you anywhere between 11,000 AUD to 16,000 AUD. This is the common pathway for those who have at least a year's(? experience). Now if you don't have any experience at all, you can do the Conversion course which will take you about a year. It's almost the same as the bridging course but you will need to do more homework and unpaid work experience (duties). I'm not sure how much it costs but from asking friends, they say fees go somewhere between 20,000AUD to 28,000 AUD. If you're stressing out about the Conversion Course's tuition fees, don't fret because since you'll be staying longer, you'll likely get a student visa that allows you to work 20 hours a week. You can work as a Assistant In Nursing or AIN in a nursing agency and early $20?/ hour or any work so long as you don't go over your hours (immigration might flag you down if you do). Either/Or, the end result is you become an qualified RN.
Now for the paper bits... you will need 1) to be a Philippine Registered nurse/ NLE board passer (you will need to request proof of this from PRC later when filing) , 2) pass the IELTS/ proof of english skills, 3) proof of employment (for those doing the bridging course) and 4) ready all the police checks in the Philippines (NBI) and police checks for any country you have worked at in the past (Saudi, from what I've heard, takes a while to process police clearances so organise this early), birth certificates, marriage certs etc.
Once you get all the documents sorted, you check AHPRA's website for foreign nurses' , they will have a checklist for you to do a tick and flick. The gists of it is you apply for an "eligibility letter" from AHPRA (Australia's nursing PRC equivalent). AHPRA will only handout the eligibility letter to those who qualify for it (read above and AHPRA checklist). Think of this letter as like a clearance slip. The whole process will take you 6 months as AHPRA will have to check and verify your documents. Once you do have this letter, you can now start looking for a university of college that offers your course (Eg Bridging/conversion program). The university will ask for you eligibility letter to ascertain that you are fit for the program as the bridging and conversion courses are only offered to those who have done their Bachelors in Nursing (RN BSN). Once you've chosen a university and have paid the deposit, they will give you your enrolment/ acceptance to uni letter. You will need this to show to the Australian Immigration for Visa Application. I'm not sure about show money requirements and if you do need them (I think you would though, probably 500k to 1 mil pesos?) just to show that you do have means to support yourself while you're studying here.
When you've enrolled for the bridging course, they will likely issue you a visitor visa (I can't remember what kind of visa, i will get back to you guys on that). The visitor visa will only cover the length of time your course would take you and you won't have work rights (no part time work). If you've applied for the Conversion Course, you will likely get a student visa that will cover you for the length of your studies and it will come with 20 hours per week work rights. You will undergo a medical checkup first before they approve your visa.
Once you have you visa, have flown to Australia and have done your course, here is the next few steps... Your goal is to get a better visa that allows you full work rights. The top aim is to get a Permanent Resident Visa or a second choice is a work visa. if you've done a bridging visa, you have 2 options. Your clock starts ticking the minute you enter Australia. When you've finished your bridging course, you can either fly back home to the Philippines to apply your permanent resident visa (PLEASE check if you qualify for a PR visa early on. You can check at the Australian immigration website. It's usually a visa 189 or a visa 190) or you can extend your visa by taking up another business/ management course (immigration will issue you a new student visa that covers the length of your new course). Use this extension to file your PR visa on Australian shores; you can still work part time while doing your second course/ study.
To apply for a Permanent Residency Visa, you will need your 1) Australian RN registration/ License (You will have this after finishing the bridging/ conversion course) and 2) ANMAC certification (you will send copies of all the documents you have submitted to AHPRA for the eligibility letter). The registration usually takes 2-4weeks after graduation. You will then use this along with your other documents to apply for ANMAC certification. ANMAC takes roughly 3 months to press (on shore/ if you apply it in Australian soil). Once you have your ANMAC letter, you can then apply for PR visa (Refer to Australian Immigration website to see what visa you qualify for). The visa process takes 1-3 months if processed on shore. The PR visa will cost you around 4,500 AUD (?. Please refer to Australian Immigration website for this).
Now if you don't have the time or money to do the above, you can try seeking employers who are willing to sponsor you. Not all employers are qualified to sponsor overseas nurses. Working visa is often a visa 457. This will take roughly 2-6 weeks to process. This gives you full work rights but will limit you to only working for the sponsoring employer (no sideline jobs/ extras). This will cost you around 1,500 AUD. The working visa is a good way to buy you time (rather than taking up a course and spending $500 every month on tuition) while working on your PR documents and processing.
I know it all sounds overwhelming and expensive but working in Australia has been very rewarding for me. I find that Australia values their workforce and would avoid overworking employees. The pay very well too! Overall, the expense would be 12,000 AUD for tuition, 1,000 for tickets, 200/week on rent/food/transportation and around 2,000 for a work visa or 5000 for a permanent resident visa. I spent roughly 20,000 AUD to get to where I am now but don't fret, you will earn it all in 1-2 years as nurses earn an average of 60,000/year or 45,000 annually when tax is deducted. If you're very frugal with how you spend your money, you can rent a room while you're working (200/week with food and bus ticketsX52 weeks in a year=10,400) . If you do the math, your take home pay in a year would be 45,000-10,400=34,600 AUD per year or 1.2M pesos/ year.
*This is a blog to share my personal experience. Its my way of helping fellow filipino nurses find their way around Australian Visas and Australian nursing pathways. This is only a rough sketch to give you guys an idea. I have not proof-read this as its 330am.. my brain is slowly logging off. I hope this will help someone out there some how. I will likely not go online for another year or so so please, if someone (a fellow Aussie RN?) has something to add , write down on the comment section below for our fellow kabayans to read. Mabuhay!