Huge demand for visas to Canada

Andy Rohan

Andy Rohan

Thu, Jan 14, 2010, 00:00

MANY YOUNG people hoping to travel to Canada to work in 2010 are likely to be disappointed due to “phenomenal demand” for a limited number of working holiday visas this year.

USIT said yesterday it had filled its complement of 1,000 places for its 12-month working holiday programme for people under 35 in just two days. New applicants are being put on a waiting list amid hopes the Canadian government will agree to provide more places for Irish participants.

“We filled the 1,000 places for the under 35 working holiday scheme within two days of them going on offer. The waiting list is still open but we don’t want to create false expectations for people,” said USIT spokeswoman Seona Mac Reamoinn.

Ms Mac Reamoinn said the recession was obviously a factor in the exceptional demand for the schemes. The student working holiday scheme for Canada also has a limit of 1,000 places and opened for application on Tuesday.

Canada’s ambassador to Ireland, Patrick Binns, said the Canadian government was considering whether to offer more working holiday visas this year to Irish applicants in light of the high demand.

“Last year we started off with 2,000 visas for students and under 25s but we were able to get an additional 500 visas later.” he said.

But this was no guarantee and unsuccessful applicants for working holiday visas should investigate other visa programmes, which did not have a limited number of places.

One of the successful applicants, David McMahon, a 23-year- old working for Barry’s Balloons in Dublin, said: “When I logged on for the first time I couldn’t complete my application because there was too much traffic on the USIT website. So I had to wait up and complete my online application at 3am,” he told The Irish Times.

He would have preferred to go to the US but it was more difficult to get working visas. He said he planned to work in Canada with two of his friends, who also got visas, and then travel around the world before returning home.

It is expected that some of those people who go to Canada on a working holiday visa will find permanent employment and stay on in the country by applying for residence visas. Canada issued 1,471 visas to Irish nationals in the first six months of 2009 and is on course to issue 3,000 for the full year. Last year it issued 2,607 visas. Seán Gannon, director of the careers advisory service at Trinity College Dublin, said graduates were now looking for longer term opportunities to work overseas.

“During the Celtic Tiger graduates were looking at spending a year abroad on a holiday working visa and then return home to work but now when people get there they are more likely to look to stay and work for longer,” he said.

Case study

ANDY ROHAN is a 26-year-old software developer who has got a holiday work visa. He has been offered a three-year career break by the bank he works for and hopes to settle permanently in Canada if he can find the right job.

“I’ve just finished work and am hoping to travel to Toronto in March to find work. I went there for a quick holiday in December and spoke to a recruitment consultant, who told me I should be able to find work in my field. I’ve also been looking on Canadian recruitment websites and I’m pretty confident that I will be able to get work.

Two of my friends are already in Canada. One of them has a job and the other, who arrived there in the new year is still looking for work. Two others have applied for visas from USIT so I think there will be five of us there. “I’ve no mortgage tying me to Ireland. My hope is that I can get a job for a year and then stay on in Canada by applying for a different type of visa, a skilled worker visa. I think I would emigrate if I got a good job. My career break is for three years but I don’t have to come back.”