How to work as a nurse in the UK

Anyone wanting to work as a nurse in the UK must register with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC). If you train and qualify outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to be eligible to apply for registration you must meet the English Language requirement and have at least 12 months work experience as a registered nurse. Once eligible, you must pass the first part of the test of competence, otherwise known as CBT. The accredited test provider is Pearson VUE and have test centres in most countries around the globe.

You do not necessarily need to have an NMC decision letter, although preferred, to apply for a Tier 2 entry visa to the UK. However, you must obtain this shortly to sit the second part of the test of competence in the UK to assess your clinical knowledge. This test is called Objective-Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). You have 3 months from entering the UK to pass your OSCE and if you fail your allowed amount of attempts (some have 2 whilst others have 3 depending on the date of your application) then your employment will end and you have to leave the UK under the Immigration Rules.


The IAN method in 3 Simple Steps


Get in contact with us to begin the process of emigrating to the UK and working within our thriving healthcare sector. Our initial conversation is free; we’ll talk through your situation and discuss possible ways forward.

Want to know more about the Inquire stage? Read more


Next we complete all the legal paperwork needed, and get your qualification accredited by the relevant professional bodies. We’ll match you with your perfect sponsor and have a job offer for you in no time.

Want to know more about the Apply stage? Read more


Finally, we’ll look after you far beyond your initial placement in the UK. If you aren’t happy, talk to us. If you want to venture into a new specialism, let us help you source the right training. Got friends or family who want to come to the UK, give them our details and let us help them on their journey.

Want to know more about the Nurture stage? Read more

I - Inquire

The first step is to ask us any questions you may have in the application process as the professional registration requirements and immigration rules are complex and not understanding them fully can cause long delays. We have put together the top 5 obstacles in the application process.

AdobeStock_178514370Achieving 7.0 in speaking and writing components of IELTS

Doing this in one sitting is impossible if not a miracle. In fact, most experience in resitting both parts will tell you that a 7.0 in the first test becomes a 6.5 in the next and vice versa. This is not only frustrating but also becomes an expensive enterprise where most nurses give up after failing several attempts. Since February 2016, the NMC accepts evidence of achieving at least a B grade in listening, reading, writing and speaking of Occupational English Test (OET).

Our solution
It is widely accepted that exam preparation is the best way to achieve required or desired results but there seems to be an exception with the IELTS because there is a strong evidence to suggest inconsistency and subjectivity with the scoring process. It is argued that IELTS’s speaking and writing favours the use of subjective criteria over objective criteria that may be measured objectively. Also, the band descriptors do not always place speakers’ and writers’ skills into a discrete band score descriptor.

Since the IELTS organisation is a collaborative joint venture between the British Council. Cambridge University and IDP Education Australia, we are able to legally challenge your score by way of Judicial Review against the two public bodies in the UK if there is a strong evidence that there has been irregularities in the conduct of your assessment process. Please note that this is different from requesting a review which in most cases prove not only to be a futile exercise but also a waste of time. You ask why are we able to do this and the answer is because this remedy is available within the UK’s legal system and therefore could be very helpful if you are an international nurse and sitting IELTS to work in the UK.

Obtaining your NMC decision letter in time.

Once all evidence of meeting the registration requirement has been received by the NMC, an assessment officer normally makes a decision within 60 days of receipt of all required documentation although timescales vary for each application. Delays occur when all the correct documents are not included with the initial application. Having worked as a nurse in countries other than your country of origin also causes delays because of the challenges in obtaining employment references and other required documents. However, there are cases when delays of up to over 6 months happens simply due to documents received but missing in the NMC.

Our solution
Our compliance team are experienced in ensuring you submit all the correct documents in the first instance, confirmation of receipt of your applications documents are obtained and that your application is being considered by a particular case worker and a decision will be made within a clear agreed timescale. The unique relationship our legal team has developed with the NMC international registration team makes the process and waiting time for obtaining decision letters a clockwork, avoiding unnecessary delays.

Securing your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)

This is an application made by your Sponsor to the Home Office in the UK and they have to meet certain requirements for the number of certificates to be granted. One of them is providing evidence that the applicant is eligible to under the relevant immigration rules for the nursing occupation. Delays happen when your information has been submitted by more than one sponsor because you have applied and been offered by several employers. Your agency has no control over this process and delays happen when one of the many rules are not met for this kind of requests.

Our solution
As we support most of our employers in their compliance duties which includes support in requesting and assigning CoSs, this process is streamlined and our legal team can guarantee your proposed Sponsor has available CoS and that one is assigned for you within two days from signing your offer letter.

The quality of OSCE training you will receive from your employer.

Imagine waiting around 12 months to enter the UK and find yourself failing OSCE because you did not have adequate training and preparation. You thought the training provided by your employer was enough but you still failed the examination for unfair and unknown reasons I the assessment process.

Our solution
There are no statistics available to know the actual reasons why there is a high percentage of candidates failing OSCE due to issues of confidentiality. We are the first training provider in the UK to have conducted examination preparation and candidates have come to us after failing OSCE to seek immigration advice. Our legal team has a strong track record of decisions being overturned, free exceptional resits being granted and obtaining NMC pin numbers on grounds of irregularities and inconsistencies in the assessment process. Our success rate is 100 percent in the last 8 months and we are not aware of any other firms that can match our expertise and experience in dealing with the NMC in respect of OSCE.

Termination of your employment and departure from the UK when you fail your OSCE.

The immigration rules provide that your sponsorship must be cancelled when you fail to obtain your NMC pin number within 8 months. However, the condition of your entry visa requires you to sit your OSCE within 3 months from entering the UK. Some sponsors end your employment immediately after failing OSCE but others may keep you until your 8th month. This is because of some grey areas which resulted from incorporating the overseas registration requirements of the NMC into the immigration rules.

Our solution
You will not find yourself in this position by using our service as we can guarantee you will pass your OSCE, obtain your professional registration (pin number) and therefore your immigration status will be protected. However, if you failed your OSCE and your employment and sponsorship are terminated we are able to provide you temporary accommodation, maintenance assistance and OSCE training allowing you to get through your reapplication period to resit OSCE and find a new Tier 2 sponsor.

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A - Apply

AdobeStock_211160599The second step is to tell us about yourself, your work experience, and your future career plans and your journey with us will make you highly marketable so that you get to choose which type of employment best suits your career goals. The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK is short of 42,855 nurses and 11,187 doctors to work in hospitals & community. This means there are plenty of career opportunities you can choose from but equally the number of job-seekers has grown. There is a big difference between the job being offered to you by a recruitment agency and the career that is actually right for you. So, how do you know which job vacancy you should be pursuing?

Define clearly your career path – Choosing a career is a big deal. You’ll spend a minimum of three years at work and in order to enjoy it, stay motivated and fulfill your potential you need to choose wisely. The first thing to do is understand skills and knowledge you possess and being aware of this also helps to highlight any gaps in your knowledge that may need to be filled in order to achieve your goals. Consider where you are now, where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. You should be asking yourself the following questions to define clearly the career path you want: What am I good at? What are my interests, motivations and values? What is important to me? What kind of lifestyle do I want?

Research the opportunities in the market – This is all about exploring the job market and career paths available to you and narrowing down your options. For example there are many myths about being a nurse in a care home and one of them is that as a nurse, you don’t acquire the same range of clinical skills. This of course depends on where you work within the care home. But for sure, the salary offer in a nursing home could be £10,000 more than what the NHS offers. Your consideration should include talking to managers of both the hospital and care homes and ask the right questions to give you a better idea of which employer best suits your personality, work ethic and if such employment fits well in the direction you want your career to go.

Seek advice from reputable agencies – Accepting a job offer is a big decision and it usually involves entering into an agreement. Most applicants from overseas do not understand what they are signing up for and find themselves in a difficult situation when things go wrong. Some simply end up in a job location which is completely different from what they expected. So taking the time to ask the right questions and seeking advice from reputable agencies will save you from a lot of trouble in your big career move. Only after combining your own research and advice sought you would be ready to make an informed career decision.

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N - Nurture

The third step is to grow your relationship with us to succeed in the process. Our aim is to create better opportunities for you and your investment in time and commitment to our unrivalled systems and processes will guarantee your success. We expect you to do this in 3 simple ways.


We build relationships not for gain but as opportunities to know you, your preferred working environment, location and future career plans. We do this by allocating a dedicated team of consultants who are experts in their own fields who will simplify the complex process for you under one service.


We are creative project managers. We always strategise, execute and evaluate our projects. We do not offer what we have not tested and our success in finding you the most suitable career opportunity is possible when there are clear communication channels and regular contacts between us until we achieve your goals.


We fix mistakes and learn from them. We aim to change lives and better tomorrow by giving our best in everything we touch and do and we achieve extraordinary results both for you and your sponsor when we work together to meet all parties’ interests in every transaction we facilitate and service.

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