Overseas qualified Registered Nurses (RNs) are required to study in Australia to get an RN registration from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and become eligible to work here as an RN. The quickest way to gain an Australian RN registration is to take up the Nurse Bridging Program (it is also called the Initial Registration for Overseas Nurses, IRON). To legally enter Australia and take this course, RNs can either hold a visitor visa or a student visa.
This article intends to compare and discuss the high-level requirements, costs, and benefits of applying for and holding a student visa versus a visitor visa and provide examples.
Visitor Visa Subclass 600 Business Visitor Stream
There are many Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) that offer Nurse Bridging Program that is not CRICOS registered. RNs enrolled on non-CRICOS coded Nurse Bridging Program can only apply for a visitor visa.
The current visitor visa application charge is $140. Its current processing time (published on the Home Affairs website https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/600- at the time of writing this article) is between 7 and 18 days. Based on my experience, Filipino passport holders usually get visitor visas with 12 months validity and with a maximum stay of three months. Visitor visa business stream comes with mandatory conditions such as No Work (8115) and maximum of three months training/study (8201). A no further stay condition (8503) may also be imposed.
Student Visa Subclass 500
RNs enrolled with education providers that have CRICOS registered Nurse Bridging Program have the option to either apply for a student visa or a visitor visa business stream. Currently, the CRICOS website enlists Deakin University, ETEA, and La Trobe University as providers of IRON program in Victoria which are CRICOS registered. You can find CRICOS registered Nurse Bridging Programs in Australia by visiting the CRICOS web page, specify the state, and key in “Initial Registration” under the course name.
The current student visa application charge is $560. Its current processing time (as shown on the Home Affairs website as of 23 April 2018) is between 18 days and 4 months. The stay period for this visa covers the period of study (three months for the IRON program) plus one month, giving you a total stay of four months.
Genuine temporary entrant (GTE) requirement should be satisfied when applying for this visa. This means that you should provide evidences to show that your qualification or current/previous job is highly related to Nursing, you intend to get back to your country of origin after taking up the IRON program, and you intend to follow all the conditions of your visa once granted. In some cases, evidence of financial capacity is required depending on the risk assessment level of the education provider you have enrolled to and your country of origin’s risk assessment level.