AIMS This paper suggested the need to interrogate the notion of 'integration' to facilitate the retention of migrant nurses. BACKGROUND The growth in internationally recruited nurses in the UK's health system has led to a raft of policies that aim to ensure that such nurses are well 'integrated' into their 'new environment'. It is assumed that integration will improve the quality of internationally recruited nurses' experience in the UK, improve their retention rates and thus improve the quality of health delivery within the UK. However, most of the steps through which integration is sought tend to move between some version of assimilation and 'respect for difference'. CONTRIBUTIONS: This paper aimed to add to existing literature on the integration of internationally recruited nurses in the UK by suggesting three steps towards rethinking 'integration policies'. It suggests the need to recognize migration as only one of the differentiating factors within the nursing sector, to ensure that integration does actually become a two-way process and to be cognizant of the multiple shapes that racism can take. The first two steps will prevent a slip between integration and assimilation while the last will help rethink any anti-racist training that may form part of integration policies. CONCLUSIONS There are many factors influencing the experiences of internationally recruited nurses and not all of them can be addressed within current integration policies. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE Rethinking integration can help improve the experience of internationally recruited nurses.