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Changes in Waiving CNO’s Language Proficiency Requirement (2022)

A new CNO Language Proficiency Policy took effect on March 7, 2022 for Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs). The goal of this change is to make the process simpler, faster and more efficient for applicants. 

Disclaimer: CNO’s rules change frequently. Do your own due diligence by always checking CNO’s website.

What Changed in the Process of Waiving CNO’s Language Proficiency Requirement? 

Of all provinces in Canada, only the College of Nurses of Ontario gives applicants the opportunity to waive the language proficiency evidence requirement through recent education and experience. In other provinces, passing IELTS or CELBAN is required.

The change in the review process is aimed at simplifying the review process of waiving the need for an English proficiency test. The process is now more direct-to-the-point but the requirements are considered less broad and harder. 

Starting March 7, 2022, an applicant who submits a request to waive his/her English proficiency test should meet at least one of the following conditions:


  • Active registration as a nurse in another jurisdiction OR


In the past 2 years, the applicant has completed:

  • An approved nursing education program in English or French, with a clinical component, in any jurisdiction OR
  • A health care or health care support program in English or French, with a clinical component, in any Canadian Province OR
  • Additional nursing education, in English or French, with a clinical component OR


In the past 2 years, the applicant has: 

  • Experience working as a nurse in a predominantly English or French setting OR
  • Experience working in a healthcare setting providing services in English or French in any Canadian Province. 

Notice that the recent education or experience that you can use as evidence to waive the English proficiency test must be all healthcare-related now. Applicants who sent their application for Language Proficiency before March 7 can still use their non-healthcare job experience as evidence for English proficiency. 

Language Proficiency Forms 

CNO is still requiring the use of their Language Proficiency Application forms. There are 4 forms:

  1. Applicant form – this is the document that formalizes your request to waive your language proficiency test. 
  2. Education form – if you have qualifying nursing or healthcare-related studies completed in the past 2 years, you need to fill up this form with the corresponding details of your studies. You must attach your academic transcript and course descriptions along with this form. Letter of reference from your teacher or instructor should be included as well. The form and the attachments should be sent by the school directly to CNO with their sealed letterhead envelope. 
  3. Experience Form – if you have qualifying nursing or any healthcare-related experience in the past 2 years, this form should be completed by your employer. Letter of reference and job descriptions should be attached to the form as well. CNO requires that the employer send the form and the attachments directly to CNO in a sealed letterhead envelope. 
  4. Summary of Evidence Form – the purpose of this form is to summarize all the proofs CNO should expect in your file. You can send this form along with the Applicant form. 

What If I Just Want to Take an English Proficiency Test?

All this process mentioned above is tedious for some people so taking the English proficiency exam is not a bad idea at all. You have two options:


The passing scores for CELBAN are as follows:

Writing – 7

Speaking – 8

Listening – 10

Reading – 8

IELTS (Academic Format)

Minimum scores are as follows: 

Writing – 7

Speaking – 7

Listening – 7.5

Reading – 6.5

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One Comment

  1. Hi, with an overall IELTS academic score of 7.0
    Speaking -7.0
    Reading -6.0
    Can I apply for psychiatric nursing job

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