Canadian visa access to widen


The number of Canadian working holiday visas available to young Irish people is to be doubled and the length of stay extended from one year to two under a new agreement announced today.

A total of 6,350 visas will be available in 2013, up from 5,350 this year. This will rise to 10,700 in 2014.

The agreement was signed by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and the Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in Dublin this afternoon.

The quota of International Experience Canada (IEC) visas, which allow people aged 18 to 35 to work legally in the country for up to 12 months, was filled by 30th May this year, three months earlier than the quota of 5,000 was filled in 2011.

The number of Canadian working holiday visas issued to Irish passport holders has increased dramatically in the last two years, up from 4,229 in 2010 and 2,500 in 2009.

Mr Kenney said he hoped the expanded visa programme would help to meet the increasing demand for Canadian visas among Irish people looking to work abroad.

“Canada is facing significant labour shortages,” he said.

“We know young Irish men and women to phenomenonly well. They are welcome by the vibrant Irish community in Canada. There are tremendous economic opportunities, they can come and make very good money, send some of that home, and come back.”

Mr Kenney said the extension of the work permit period to two years would enable Irish people to find better jobs that suited their skill levels, by reassuring employers that workers would be in the country for a longer period of time.

Mr Gilmore said it was the Government's “primary priority” to create jobs and an economic climate in Ireland that would allow emigrants to return, but that the visa programme was “not just about short-term emigration”.

“Canada is one of the biggest investors in Ireland and Irish companies now employ 60,000 people in Canada,” he said.

“This new generation working holiday programme will continue to facilitate economic ties betweeen Ireland and Canada.”

Mr Kenney will attend the Working Abroad Expo in the RDS this weekend to support a number of Canadian companies who are in Ireland to recruit skilled workers.

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