If you're a degree qualified Registered Nurse with at least 1 year of post qualification work experience gained within the previous 24 months, you may be eligible for a points tested visa or, if you get employer sponsorship, an employer sponsored visa. The exact process depends on whether you can pass the points test - an RN would usually be able to pass it. If you can't get to 65 points, an employer sponsored visa is your only option and you must have the sponsorship before you can apply for the visa.
First of all, check what you score on the points test:
If you score at least 65 points without state or territory sponsorship, you have met the points requirements for an independent visa:
If you need 5 or 10 state sponsored points to get to 65, you must have state sponsorship before you can apply for a state sponsored visa:
After seeing how you go on the points test, the first step in the formal process is to sit either the IELTS or OET English test. You will need a score of at least 7 in each component of IELTS or B in each component of the OET - this is required for skills assessment (see below), nursing registration and probably also to get enough points to pass the points test. It doesn't mention OET on the points test information I've provided above, but OET is definitely acceptable but only for nurses and other health practitioners.
English test requirements
Then, if you are applying for a points tested visa, you must obtain a positive skills assessment from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC):
If you need state sponsorship, apply to Western Australia for it - you must have already obtained skills assessment:
Apply for your visa:
If you score 65 points without state sponsorship points
Skilled – Sponsored (Migrant) Visa (Subclass 176) If you need 5 state sponsorship points.
Skilled – Regional Sponsored (Provisional) Visa (Subclass 475) If you need 10 state sponsorship points
Medicals and Police Character Checks will be requested by your Case Officer after the application is lodged and before a final decision is reached on your visa.
The following General Skilled Migration booklet sets out the requirements and process for a points tested visa in an easy to follow format:
Employer sponsored visas. Temporary employer sponsorship is fairly easy to find for nurses but doesn't provide an automatic path to Permanent Residence. If you lose or leave your job, you only have 28 days in which to find a new sponsor or you will be required to leave the country:
You should be aware that from 1 July 2012, major changes (the introduction of the SkillSelect selection model) will be made to the visa application process which can be expected to impact applicants without substantial post qualification work experience as they may have trouble getting enough points to receive an invitation to apply for a points tested visa. It will no longer be possible to apply for a points tested visa without first receiving an invitation to do so.