Overseas health professionals including nurses will now only need to pass one language exam to work in the UK.
Previously, a doctor, dentist, nurse or midwife entering the UK had to pass two English tests, one run by UK Visas and Immigration (UKIV) and one run by the relevant professional body.
But the Government has now decided that the higher level of English required for the test set by professional bodies makes a second test from the UKIV unnecessary.
The NMC accepts either the International English Language Test System or the Occupational English Test.
Commenting on the change, which will be effective from 1 October, immigration minister Seema Kennedy said: ‘Overseas doctors, dentists, nurses and midwives are an integral part of our national health service, our social care sector and our local communities.
‘That is why I have made it easier for them to apply to work in the UK. My message is clear. If you are a talented nurse or doctor, if you are a gifted midwife or dentist then I want you to choose to work here and to be a part of our country.’
A Royal College of Nursing spokesperson welcomed the removal of ‘unnecessary and costly hurdles for skilled nurses to come to practise in the UK’.
They continued: ‘We want assurance that similar logic will be applied to the immigration rules and immigration system in future, so that the health and social care systems are able to attract the workforce needed, with the right skills at the right time.’
Emma Broadbent, director of registration and revalidation at the NMC, said the change would remove barriers and make the process to work in the UK more straightforward.
She added: ‘This measure also chimes well with the NMC’s continued efforts to streamline the way overseas registrants join our register.’
As part of this, the NMC will further reduce the cost of the computer-based test of competence. The cost of the test was reduced from £130 to £90 in April this year; now, it will be reduced further to £83 from 1 October.
Other adjustments include streamlining the process to confirm a candidate’s competence, redesigning the guidance page on the NMC website and moving from a paper to online system from 7 October.
Ms Broadbent said: ‘We want to make sure that those who meet our requirements are able to join our register as quickly and efficiently as possible.’