Fall in numbers travelling to Australia
Just 6,504 Irish citizens were granted working holiday visas for the first time in 2012, a decrease of 28.8 per cent on 2011. Photograph: Getty Images
The number of Irish people travelling to Australia on working holiday visas fell by more than a quarter in the second half of 2012 when compared with the same period the previous year.
New figures published by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship show 6,504 Irish citizens were granted working holiday visas for the first time between July and December, a decrease of 28.8 per cent on the same period in 2011.
The number of people applying to stay on for a second year rose to 3,735 however, an increase of 33.7 per cent.
According to the figures, there were 15,005 Irish people in Australia on working holiday visas on December 31st, the fifth-highest in the world behind the UK, South Korea, Taiwan and Germany.
While there has been a drop in working holiday makers travelling from Ireland, the number of Irish workers granted employer-sponsored 457 visas increased by 18.4 per cent to 3,670 in the second half of 2012.
Only British and Indian citizens were allocated more 457 visas than the Irish, who claimed just over 10 per cent of 457 visas granted in the period.
Some 1,410 Irish people took up the employer-sponsored visas for jobs in Western Australia, making it the most popular territory. New South Wales granted 1,010 457 visas to Irish people, Victoria gave 590, and Queensland 450. The rest were allocated in Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and Tasmania.
An additional 2,020 secondary 457 visas were granted to dependants of primary 457 visa holders (spouses, partners and children) from Ireland during the period, bringing the total to 5,690.
Unlike Canada, Australia offers an unlimited number of working holiday and skilled worker visas to Irish people, but certain criteria must be fulfilled.
Applicants for the working holiday visa programme must be aged between 18 and 30, and those applying for 457 visas must be sponsored by an employer and have a skill that is in demand in Australia.
The 2013 quota of 6,350 working holiday visas for Canada, which are available to anyone aged between 18 and 35, was filled in just four days at the end of last month.
*This article was amended on February 25th to correct a factual error.