Work as a Nurse in the UK

NHS nurses in the UK

Interested in moving abroad to work as a nurse in the UK? The idea of continuing your career overseas can seem overwhelming at first. You will need to have a valid visa and sponsorship from an employer such as the National Health Service (NHS). Most nurses who qualify for a visa from outside the UK must have a degree in nursing and a valid registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).

Working in the UK as a Registered NUrse

The UK currently is predicted to have a 140,600 shortage of nurses by 2030 and is looking overseas to help fill this gap. This offers great employment opportunities for Registered Nurses.

The National Health Service (NHS) is the largest employer in the UK with over 1 million staff, many of which were born abroad.

To work in the UK as a nurse you must register with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC). There is only 1 national register in the UK so you can work in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The registration process is separate from your visa application which you should apply for after your visa has been accepted.

The total cost of registering with the NMC is £1,170 as of March 2022, this includes registration fees and sitting all exams. You will find more information on this process here, you should give yourselves around 6 months to register and pass all tests.

UK Visa for Nurses

The main pathway for all healthcare professionals looking to move to the UK is the Health and Care Worker Visa and to a lesser extent the Youth Mobility Scheme.

UK nurses
For the NHS or private employers to sponsor medical professionals to work in the UK. You must have a job on the occupations list and meet the salary requirements for your role.
girls drinking beer outside UK
For citizens of selected countries to work in the UK full time for two years. You must be aged 18-30 and be a first time applicant. Enjoy a long holiday with the option of employment to fund your travels.

To be eligible for the Health and Care Worker visa you must pass several minimum requirements.

  • Work for an employer that has been approved by the UK Government
  • Have a valid certificate of sponsorship related to the role
  • Job must be on the Health and Care Worker Occupations List
  • Salary must meet the minimum threshold for the role
  • Speak, read, write and understand English to a minimum standard

To ensure you are successful in applying for your visa, you must gather the below important documentation.

  • Certificate of Sponsorship
  • Proof of your knowledge of English
  • A valid passport for the entirety of the visa
  • Occupation and Salary
  • Bank statement proving sufficient funds
  • Name of employer and license number

NUrsing Jobs in the UK

Finding a job in the NHS can be a relatively straight forward process, but you have to be flexible with your preferences from location to job role. The NHS Careers website is the best place to find vacancies, you will have to create a profile before applying for jobs. Alongside this, we have contacts at a few hospitals and medical centres around the UK that may have opening that match your what your looking for. We do not recommend agencies.

Typically nurses work 12 hour shifts, usually 07.00 to 19.00 or 19.00 to 07.00, but this varies by role and hospital. Band 6’s and above who are at managerial level, tend to work Monday to Friday 09.00 to 17.00. Both bands contain a unpaid lunch hour.

CAREER PATH for Nurses in the UK

Entry level graduates or overseas applicants will most likely enter the NHS as a Band 5 nurse, this is to gain experience working in a British hospital. As of April 2023, the starting salary for a nurse in band 5 is £27,055 in England & Wales, after 4 years this increases to £32,934. In Scotland, the starting salary is £28,384 in which after 4 years increases to £30,329. This does not include extra pay for working unsociable hours such as weekends and night shifts.

You will also be entitled to a minimum of 27 paid holidays per year alongside 8 bank holidays, if you work a bank holiday you will be entitled to extra pay. Maternity with the NHS includes 2 months full pay guaranteed, 7 months of at least half pay and an option for another 3 months unpaid without effecting your career.


After 5 years of the Health and Care Worker visa, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). In addition to the number of years you have resided in the UK, you must also satisfy other requirements such as you must pass the Life in the UK test and have a speaking and listening qualification. Your application must also demonstrate that you have strong ties to the UK and have made this your home for the time you were here. The UK permanent residence process is not any more difficult than other G20 nations, but it is important to know how it works from the beginning or you could delay the process by several years.

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