Overseas Nurses Information Centre

Overseas nurses are welcome to the UK to train and work. See vital information for overseas nurses - from adaptations, supervised placements, to institutions that currently provide overseas nursing programme courses in the UK.






Are you an overseas trained nurse? Do you want to work in the UK? Looking for where to do your adaptation or 20 days overseas nursing program?

For clarity, an overseas trained nurse is anyone who trained as a nurse outside Europe or the European Union / EEA. So if you trained as a nurse in Australia, India, Nigeria, the United States of America, or anywhere else outside the EU, you will need to meet certain criteria to be eligible to register and work as a nurse in the UK.

The demand for trained nurses in the UK is still high. Your services are still needed, and listed in the UK Skills Shortage, recently updated.

In order to meet this huge skill gap, thousands of foreign trained nurses are recruited into the UK yearly.

Since Florence Nightingale set up the world’s very first training school for nurses at St. Thomas’s Hospital London in 1860, students and overseas nurses alike have walked in from the four walls of the earth to study in the UK. They have also come in their droves to work. According to the NMC, in 2009 alone for example, 500 foreign educated nurse aiming to work in the UK were registered to do so.

NMC Registration

Registration with the Nurses and Midwife Council (NMC) of the United Kingdom is straightforward.

To be eligible for registration you need to demonstrate that

  • You have at least one year experience working as a nurse or midwife in your country of qualification and in the area of nursing or midwifery you intend to work in.

  • you can communicate effectively in English language. You are required to have an overall score of at least 7.0 in the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) with a minimum of 7.0 in listening and reading, and 7.0 in writing and speaking.

  • Undertake a 20 - day overseas nurses program in a duly accredited university.

  • May need to undergo a supervised placement in a nursing home, NHS hospital, or other accredited health facility for clinical experience.

For midwives, there is only one approved midwifery adaptation course in the UK running at the Kingston University, St George's Hospital, Tooting, London.

While certain qualifications from America and other non EU countries could be considered to waive the 20 days overseas nursing training adaptation program, especially if you train in the USA to a certain level, the IELTS requirements for foreign trained nurses wanting to work in the UK is the same across the board. It applies to all, even if you come in from an English speaking country like Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada or the USA. You can get help with passing your IELTS with high band with the Complete online IELTS preparation course that is highly recommended by top IELTS tutors worldwide.

Once you have passed your IELTS , download and put in your application form along with:

  • Certified copy (signed photocopy by a lawyer)of your nursing or midwifery degree or diploma

  • Certified copy of your bio data page of your travel document (international passport)

  • Certified copy of your birth certificate

  • Evidence of change of name - like marriage certificate, if your name has changed from what it is on the qualification you have

You will also need to pay a non refundable application fee. It is about £117.00 at the moment and this amount could change at any time. Please contact the NMC to get the latest figure.

You will also need two reference letters. One could be a character reference and the other could be a professional reference from your previous employers or institution of training. The registration process is usually a two stage process. At the end, the NMC will at their discretion issue you with a decision letter. This currently takes about three months after you complete and submit all necessary documents.

After an NMC decision letter, you will then be required to undertake the Overseas Nurses Programme (ONP) for those applying to work as a registered nurse, or the Adaptation to Midwifery Programme (AMP) for those aiming to work as a midwife in the UK.

The 20-Day Oversea Nurses Programme

Since September 2005, the NMC has directed that a new component be added to the training of overseas qualified nurses to enable them meet the skill requirement to optimally function in the United Kingdom.

This is called or referred to as the Overseas Nurses Programme (ONP). You need to pass your IELTS and get an NMC decision letter to be eligible to apply for the ONP.

The Overseas Nurses Programme is a 40 credit level 3 Bachelor of Science in Health Studies that would be run by affiliating Universities or any other higher institution.

Many institutions run it as a 20 – day protected course. You can get the list of approved institutions from the NMC website that runs the Overseas Nurses Programme (ONP) here. On completion of the ONP, depending on your experience, you may need to do 3-6 months adaptation or supervised placement in an approved Nursing Home or better still, in a National Health Service (NHS) hospital.

The institutions where you did your ONP as well as the supervised placements will send reports about you to the NMC.

If they are satisfied with your performance, you can now pay for registration with the NMC who will grant you registration as a nurse permitted to work in the UK!

At this point, an employer will now have to apply for a work permit on your behalf.

Immigration Requirements

The immigration rule for overseas qualified nurses or midwives to be eligible for entry clearance into the UK for training on the overseas nursing or midwifery adaptation programme changes from time to time. As at of 20th February 2011, the requirements for granting visa for the overseas nursing programme (ONP) or midwifery adaption placements include:

  • Putting in your visa application under the Modernised Guidance Immigration Category. This used to be under the permit free training scheme. If you are already here in the UK and your visa was under a different category before now, you will need to apply for permission to work as a nurse under the Sponsored Skilled Worker Category.

  • Accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) of the United Kingdom that you are eligible for admission to the overseas nurses programme (that is show that you have an NMC decision letter).

  • Show that you have been offered a place by an institution for an Overseas Nurses Programme (a letter from an admitting UK University) or

  • If you are a midwife, that you have been accepted on a Midwifery Adaptation Programme by a UK University - currently, this is only offered by Kingston University London.

  • You will need to demonstrate to the immigration office that your qualification is approved for your intended job or roll. If you are in doubt as to whether your overseas nursing or midwifery qualifications would be acceptable to the UK for immigration purposes, please contact the UKNARIC to compare your foreign qualification .

  • He or she does not engage in business or take up any employment, except an employment in connection with a placement.

  • He or she is able to care for and maintain his or her self and any dependent without recourse to public funds.

  • You do not intend to apply for or stay in the UK for more than 18 months during your training programme.
On completetion of your programme, you will then be registered by the NMC as a fully registered UK nurse or Midwife as the case may be.

Note that on completion of your ONP or MAP, you can apply for a Tier 2 visa as a Sponsored Worker before the expiration of your Modernised Guidance visa expires, and switch over to a work permit.

Overseas Nurse Programme:
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