OBA for IQNM is a PR Pathway for Overseas Nurses


OBA for IQNM is a PR Pathway for Internationally Qualified Nurses and Midwives

OBA for IQNM is a PR Pathway for Nurses and Midwives who are overseas trained

OBA for IQNM is a PR Pathway for Overseas trained nurses and wifewives who have the necessary working experience and qualifications to work as a nurse or midwife in Australia. The OBA for IQNM is an initiative by Australia to provide permanent visa for overseas trained nurses and midwives.

Overseas nurses and midwives are commonly known as Internationally Qualified Nurses and Midwives or IQNM.

immigration lawyer help with OBA for IQNM

PR pathway

There are a various way or pathway for IQNM or overseas trained nurses and midwives to apply for an Australian permanent visa.

One pathway is for IQNM to pass the Outcomes-Based Assessment or OBA.

IQNM wanting to work in Australia as a nurse or midwife is required to apply for a working visa or permanent resident visa. IQNM must also be registered to practice.

IQNM must first be registered by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency or AHPRA before they can work as nurses and midwives.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia or NMBA is the agency that regulate the practice of nursing and midwivery.

Together, AHPRA and NMBA are responsible for assessing and registering internationally qualified nurses and midwives or IQNM to practice in Australia.

When applying to AHPRA for registration, IQNM are assessed on their qualifications and not their professional clinical experience.

Since 2014, IQNM were assessed on 8 qualification assessment. In 2019, NMBA reduced the assessment from 8 to 3. And in early 2020, the assessment will be transitioned to an Outcomes-Based Assessment or OBA for IQNM who hold relevant and meet the mandatory registration standards but do not have substantially equivalent qualifications.

The OBA will replace bridging programs, for example, IRON or Initial Registration of Overseas Nurses.

The OBA is a 2-stage assessment process: (i) a multiple-choice question (MCQ) exam and (ii) an objective structured clinic exam (OSCE). You will be required to pass the MCQ before moving to the OSCE.

Under the OBA for IQNM PR pathway, IQNM must pass, in the following order:

  1. cognitive assessment component – this a computer-based multiple-choice questionnaire or MCQ; and
  2. behavioural component (OSCE) – this assesses the behavioural skills that reflect the IQNM’s knowledge and skills of an entry level Australian nurse or midwife.

In addition to the OBA for IQNM, overseas trained nurses and midwives must also undertake an orientation program to help them familiarise working in the Australian healthcare system. This program covers 3 parts:

  1. an online Self-check or assessment introducing IQNM to Australia and the Australian healthcare system;
  2. this orientation (for all IQNMs who are advised to continue with the assessment process) covers the diversity of the Australian culture and IQNM must complete it once they are registered with the NMBA.
  3. the IQNM’s employer will provide an orientation which is based on NMBA’s guidelines.

The OBA for IQNM PR pathway is for IQNM whose qualifications do not meet all the required assessment criteria. They will be required to sit for the OBA or using another pathway, such as an NMBA approved program of study, to apply for their permanent resident visa.

New model of assessment (steps)

i).        Self-check

All IQNMs will need to submit their qualification information at Self-check. You will then be advised of the steps or assessment stages you must successfully complete before being eligible for registration.

There is no fee to use the Self-check.

After completing Self-check your qualification (eg Bachelor of Science in Nursing) will be assessed whether it is substantially equivalent or based on similar competencies to an Australian approved qualification (eg Bachelor of Nursing and you must demonstrate you are able to meet the mandatory registration standards).

You will be issued with a referral to the OBA if you have been assessed as holding relevant but not substantially equivalent  qualifications and able to demonstrate you meet the mandatory registration standards. Thereafter you will be assessed whether you are eligible to apply for registration after you have completed Orientation Part 1.

You should note that you are only eligible for registration after you have successfully completed an OBA (by paying a registration and application fee of $300 and $175 respectively).

ii).       Orientation program

After Self-check and if you are asked to proceed in the IQNM assessment (by paying a fee of $640), you will need to complete the orientation program in order to be registered in Australia. There are 2 parts to the orientation program.

a).        Part 1 is an online learning course introducing you to Australia and the Australian healthcare.

b).        Part 2 is a more thorough online introduction, It include the content on the diversity of Australian culture. Part 2 must be completed once you are registered with NMBA. This is a mandatory requirement in order for you to be registered.

In addition to completing the orientation program, you must seek out and be part of the workplace induction and/or local orientation provided by an employer.

OBA for IQNM alternative PR pathway

Student visa pathway

If you are enrolled in an approved course preparing you for the OBA, you may be able to apply for a Student visa (click here to learn more) if the education provider is a registered provider (click here to check if the provider is approved under CRICOS or Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students) and the duration of the course is more than 3 months. However, if the course is less than 3 months, you can apply for a Visitor or Tourist visa (click here to learn more) to do the course in Australia. You should note that generally you cannot apply for a bridging visa to do an OBA course (click here to learn more about bridging visa).

Are OBA courses accredited?

If you have concern whether the OBA course provider is accredited or approved by NMBA or AHPRA, you should ask for evidence of accreditation or approval. Or you may contact NMBA or AHPRA (click here to learn how) to find out if the education provider is accredited or approved to provide the OBA course.

Costs to attend OBA course

Some private institutes offer 12 weeks NCLEX-MCQ Preparation course for $3,500. Most of these are online courses which do not require you to be in Australia. It is unlikely you will be refunded the fee paid if you failed to pass the actual MCQ exam.

Some private institutes offer 6 weeks OSCE Assessment preparation and simulation training course for $5,500. You will be required to be in Australia to attend the course. It is unlikely you will be refunded the fee paid if you failed to pass the OSCE assessment.

If you wish to attend the OSCE course, you will need to apply for a Visitor visa (click here to learn more about Visitor Subclass 600 visa or click here for ETA Subclass 601 or click here for eVisitor Subclass 651). These visas do not allow you to work.

Attempting to obtain your AHPRA registration via the OBA partway may cost you:

  • OBA preparation course – $9,000
  • OBA fees – $5,200 approximately
  • Airfares – $1,500
  • 7 weeks accommodation & expenses – $4,900

Estimated total cost = $20,600.

You should be aware that there is no guarantee you will be able to pass the OBA on your first attempt. Even if you passed the OBA and obtained AHPRA registration, you may not be able to apply for permanent visa while you are in Australia on a Visitor visa due to the visa validity period. In short, you may be required to leave Australia to apply for either a temporary working visa or a permanent visa.

Instead of OBA, you could consider doing a conversion Bachelor of Nursing course in Australia. If you have completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Bachelor of Nursing in your home country, you could receive up to 2 years of credits. In another word, you could complete your Australian Bachelor of Nursing in 1 year. It is likely that you will be able to complete the course and be awarded a Bachelor of Nursing. You could apply for AHPRA thereafter. Student visa (usually valid for up to 15 months) permits you to work for 40 hours per fortnight and unlimited hours during term breaks.

How to apply?

To apply you will need to complete the Application for general registration as an enrolled nurse, registered nurse or midwife – using form AGOS-40 posted to AHPRA (for March 2020 assessment, the closing date is 21 February 2020).

If you have been approved for a bridging course (eg IRON program) but has not started the program, you can request AHPRA to provide you with a referral.

How long is the OBA process?

The OBA process starts in March 2020. You must pass each assessment stage before you are allowed to proceed to the next stage.

The time taken to complete the OBA is dependent on how quickly you can progress through the assessments.

Costs and locations for the MCQ exam

You must be authorised by AHPRA to sit the MCQ exams. You can sit for the MCQ exam outside of Australia.

Registered nurses will sit the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Exams will be held at the Pearson VUE test centres.

Midwives will sit an MCQ exam managed by the NMBA which is held at Aspeq test centres.

Enrolled nurse MCQ exam will be published soon.

Fees for the MCQ exams are set by the test providers and paid directly to them. Their fees are (as at February 2020):

  • for registered nurses, the NCLEX-RN registration fee is US$200 plus US$150 international scheduling fee.
    • for midwives, the fee is NZ$165 plus fee for overseas venues
    • for enrolled nurse, the fees will be published soon.

Cost and locations for the OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Exam)

The OSCE is managed by AHPRA and will be delivered at Adelaide Health Simulation in Adelaide.

The fee for OSCE is $4,000 (similar to IRON program fees).

Which Temporary Working visas to apply after passing OBA?

After you have obtained AHPRA registration and have secured a job offer to work as a nurse or midwife, you could apply, if you meet the visa grant criteria, for:

  • TSS Subclass 482 – PR pathway may be available (click here to learn more); or
  • Skilled Work Regional Subclass 491 (click here to learn more) ; or
  • Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional Subclass 494 (click here to learn more); and
  • Sponsored Regional or Designated Area Subclass 489 (closed from 16 November 2019 and replaced by Subclass 491).

Which Permanent Resident visas to apply after passing OBA?

After you have obtained AHPRA registration, you could apply, if you meet the visa grant criteria, for:

  • ENS Subclass 186 (click here to learn more); or
  • RSMS 187 (click here to learn more); or
  • Independent Subclass 189 (click here to learn more); or
  • Nominated Subclass 190 (click here to learn more and if you are interested in having NSW government nominate you for this visa, click here); and
  • Skilled Nominated Subclass 191 (click here to learn more).

Australian migration law is complex and difficult to understand, contact our immigration lawyer for a consultation (fee applies) to help you find the best visa. You may also refer to our FAQs for answers regarding visa application or visa cancellation by clicking here.

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This article is not intended to be or taken as migration legal advice. The author of this article disclaims any liability for any action or omission on the information provided or not provided in this article. You should always consult an immigration lawyer or a registered migration agent to form an informed opinion on your immigration matter.

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