Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

Destination in Focus: Vancouver

Practical advice on Canadian visas, finding a job and a place to live Vancouver, with useful links to Irish organisations, social and business networks and emergency assistance, prepared in collaboration with the Vancouver Irish Newcomers’ Society.

Thu, Dec 8, 2011, 09:01


Prepared in collaboration with the Vancouver Irish Newcomers’ Society.

With 12% of the 2.2 million people in Vancouver claiming Irish descent, there is a vibrant settled and new Irish community in the city, who have been attracted for generations by the mountains, the islands, the outdoors-lifestyle and the multiculturalism that pervades.

According to Ray Bassett, Irish Ambassador to Canada, around 7,000 Irish people migrated to Canada in 2011, about 5,000 of whom came on one year, under-35 International Experience Canada visas. This is up from 4,229 in 2010, and 2,500 in 2009. Vancouver has just overtaken Montreal as the second most desirable destination for Irish newcomers in Canada. is a very useful website on government services for all people living in Canada, with information on finding a job, education, welfare, housing, health, legal assistance, travel and starting a business.

Workers with experience in construction, building works, finance, industry, marine, mining and telecoms are in particular demand all over Canada, including Vancouver.


Visa services Irish people are handled by the Immigration Section in the Canadian High Commission in London, see the Canadian High Commission website for more details.

A useful website for anyone considering a move to Canada is, which has information on visas, living, working, studying and doing business in Canada.

The majority of Irish people enter Canada on an International Experience Canada working holiday visa, which allows people aged 18-35 from Ireland to work legally in Canada for up to one year. The fee for the application is $150CDN (about €110). Applications are not yet open for next year, but it is possible to register your email address on for updates on opening dates for applications and other information. 2011 was the first year that participants were allowed to apply for a second visa under the scheme.

The Citizenship and Immigration Canada website also has useful information on visas, including an online questionnaire to help you decide what type of visa to apply for.

Skilled workers and professionals can be selected as permanent residents based on their ability to become economically established in Canada, which includes a proven proficiency in English and/or French, and an offer of employment or at least one year of full-time paid work experience in selected occupations. (Note that the rules for Quebec are different to the rest of Canada).

You can apply for a Canadian Experience Class visa if you have two years work experience in Canada, or have graduated from a Canadian University with one additional year of relevant work experience. There’s a useful article on the pros and cons of the CEC on the Irish Alien website here.

The Business Immigration Program is open to experienced investors, entrepreneurs and the self employed. Canadian citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, dependent child (including adopted child) or other eligible relative to become a permanent resident under the Family Sponsorship programme.

Find a Job

The minimum wage in Vancouver is $9.50 per hour, which will rise to $10.25 per hour on May 1st 2012.

The Job Bank is a government-run recruitment site with thousands of jobs advertised.

Other useful jobs websites include BC’s Top 100 Employers 2011, Monster, BCJobs, @BestJobsInVan on Twitter, Workopolis, Federal Government job postings, Eluta (71,000 jobs in Canada at last count), and BC Government job postings.

Advice from Irish Newcomers in Vancouver:

“When looking for a job in Vancouver or Canada, do not, under any circumstances send out your resume (C.V.) to anyone in Canada without having had it checked by an established person here. It is a different format over here and sending an Irish version could cause you a lot of problems. Feel free to send your resumes to for advice.

“There is also a very high percentage of “Hidden Jobs” in Vancouver. These are jobs that are not advertised.  It is important to build a network of contacts in the business world here to assist you in your job search. Irish in Vancouver along with the Irish Embassy hold networking events several times a year, sponsored by the Irish Women’s Network and the Irish Government and supported by Irish in Vancouver. The last networking event (although not a jobfair) had 80 newcomers attend and 40 established Irish community members, with 15 jobs on offer.”

Find a Place to Live

As a general rule, accommodation rentals in Vancouver start on the first of the month. Apartments are generally unfurnished, but websites like Craigslist can help you furnish them very cheaply.  It also lists properties available for short-term lease.

Rents vary depending on the area; Moving2Vancouver have a very useful section on their website listing locations in the city and the amount of rent you can expect to pay.

Other useful property websites include (Just ask the question and they will come back to you),,, Kijiji Classified Ads and Airbnb (Temporary lodgings).

Irish clubs, business and social networks

Largest gathering of Irish people in Vancouver (Established and Newcomers):

Irish Women’s Network BC:

Irish Sports and Social Committee:

Moving2Vancouver, info and forums:

VIBE Vancouver Irish and Business Enterprise:

Irish Alien, info and forums, mostly for Toronto but also covers rest of Canada:

Irish Heritage Society of BC:

Canada Wise, cultural orientation programmes for immigrants, useful blog:


Society of St Vincent de Paul:

Irish Embassy Canada:

Irish News

Celtic Connections:

This Destination in Focus was prepared in collaboration with Ian McAteer and Barbara Kelly, founders of the Vancouver Irish Newcomers Society, now part of the Irish in Vancouver community group. See

After meeting with the Irish Ambassador Ray Bassett and the Irish Women’s Network in B.C., Ian and Barbara, as new arrivals themselves, wanted to provide support to newcomers. They have supported several successful networking events, funded by the Irish Ambassador and the Irish Women’s Network. The next networking event for the Irish community is due to be held in early February, details to follow shortly on their Facebook Page. For assistance or advice, email

If you have any tips or suggestions for new arrivals or those considering a move to Vancouver, please add them in the comments section below.