Canadian visas allocated in record time


The 6,350 temporary work visas for Canada which became available last week were snapped up within 48 hours.

The International Experience Canada (IEC) visas, which allow foreign nationals to stay for up to two years, were made available through the Canadian embassy website on a first-come, first-served basis last week. By contrast, 5,350 visas offered early last year took until the end of May to fill.

Canada is becoming an increasingly popular destination for young Irish emigrants. The country's immigration minister Jason Kenney visited the Working Abroad Expo in Dublin last year to promote his country to prospective Irish workers. The Canadians anticipate that the trend will continue next year when 10,000 Canadian working visas will be made available to Irish people under the age of 35.

A spokeswoman said Mr Kenney's visit last year was to promote the country's immigration programme on the basis that it was "fast, flexible and focused on meeting Canada's labour needs". Canada has major skills shortages, particularly in the construction and healthcare sectors and mostly in the oil-rich Alberta province. Thirty Canadian construction firms attended the expo last year as did the nursing authorities from Alberta. Figures collated by The Irish Times suggest that at least 90,000 young Irish people have been granted working visas for Australia, New Zealand and Canada over the last three years.

A third higher

The total for Australia between April 2009 and April 2012 was 62,370. Between April 2011 and 2012 some 25,827 applied for either a first time or subsequent working visa. The number of first time applicants last year was 19,441, a third higher than in the previous 12-month period.

The number granted working visas to Canada between 2010 and the end of 2012 was 14,708 and is now above 20,000 as a result of the latest round, while 11,925 were granted working visas for New Zealand in the same time period.

The popularity of the three countries, which largely escaped the global economic crisis, has resulted in a dramatic shift in emigration patterns.

Last year, 40 per cent of people emigrating from Ireland went to countries outside the EU, UK and US, the overwhelming majority going to Australia, Canada or New Zealand.

Another 11.9 per cent of those who emigrated last year went to the EU12, also known as the accession countries such as Poland and Latvia along with Romania and Bulgaria. These were mostly migrants returning home.