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Ireland: “one-off” nurse English test extension

An extension that will be applied to the validity of English tests taken by nurses trying to get to Ireland to practice will be a “one-off”, the country’s board for nursing has said. 

The extension applies to a "defined cohort" of nurses who have been subject to the issue, NMBI said. Photo: Pexels

The issue had also previously occurred in the fallout from Covid travel restrictions

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland announced the extension after a significant visa logjam caused around 1,000 nurses coming from abroad to be in danger of losing the validity of their completed English tests.

As is standard practice in Ireland, nurses coming from abroad to work in the country’s healthcare system must have a completed English test as part of their visa application.

“The recent delays have been caused by system challenges with the issuance of visas to come to Ireland. 

“On recognition of the delays caused beyond the control of the applicants, NMBI decided to offer a once-off extension to nurses and midwives impacted by visa delays,” an NMBI spokesperson told The PIE. 

The one-off extension will be a three month period.

The issue had also previously occurred in the fallout from the travel restrictions brought in during Covid-19.

“There were issues with expiring tests due to applicants being unable to travel to Ireland or undertake compensation measures.”

At the time, it was addressed a similar extension – but the one being provided now will only occur once, the NMBI stressed.

The group of nurses affected by the latest issue had suffered “multiple rejections” by the Department of Justice on their visas, despite having jobs waiting for them in Ireland. 

The OET or IELTS tests are valid within two years of registering as a nurse in the country, meaning those who already had jobs lined up were in danger of the validity running out.

“We do not anticipate further issues”

One nurse who was out of work due to the visa delay told The Journal, an Irish newspaper, that the ordeal had left her “mentally depressed”.

The NMBI said that it was doing what it could to address and process the “current queue” of applications resulting from visa delays, which stemmed from issues at the Department of Justice, the spokesperson said.

“We understand that the delays with the visa system have been resolved, and we do not anticipate further issues,” they added.

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