Number of Irish moving to Australia up by 25% as crisis bites
JAMIE SMYTH - Tue, Dec 29, 2009 – The Irish Times
THE NUMBER of residence visas issued by the Australian government to Irish people rose by 25 per cent this year, while there has been a 13 per cent jump in similar residence visas issued by Canadian authorities, according to new figures.
The statistics show Irish people are moving to both Canada and Australia in increasing numbers to escape the economic recession but are largely shunning traditional emigration routes to Britain and the US.
Australia issued 2,501 residence visas to Irish people in the year to the end of June, up from 1,989 in the same period last year. Canada issued 1,471 visas 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.
The number of 12-month working holiday visas for Australia issued to people under 30 has surged by 33 per cent to 22,786 in the year to the end of June, new figures show.
In comparison, the number of people emigrating to the US has continued to fall in recent years. In the year to the end of September 2009 the US government issued 287 immigrant visas from its Irish office. This compares to 288 visas in 2008 and 317 in 2007.
A new 12-month US working holiday visa for students and graduates, which was given a high-profile launch by the Government in 2008, has so far proved a flop. Fewer than 200 visas were issued in the first year, significantly below the 20,000 visas available every year through the visa exchange programme.
Britain, which during the 20th century was a hugely popular destination for Irish emigrants, has not experienced a dramatic upturn in imigration. The number of national insurance numbers issued to Irish people has increased only slightly in the first half of 2009, suggesting 11,000 people will move there this year.
The Central Statistics Office published figures in September showing 18,400 Irish nationals emigrated in the year to April 2009. But it is not possible to tell from the statistics where they went. The new figures, compiled by The Irish Times from the Australian, Canadian, British, US and New Zealand immigration authorities, shed some light on where Irish people are moving to escape the recession and unemployment.
“The big increase is for temporary options. People are taking a year out to ride out the recession by travelling to Australia and Canada. There aren’t the same options for travel to the US and the new J visa is quite restrictive,” said Joe O’Brien, policy officer at Crosscare Migrant Project, which offers advice at its drop-in centre to potential emigrants.
But he cautioned it was still early days in the recession and emigration rates would likely pick up during 2010.
The Economic and Social Research Institute predicts net outward migration to be 40,000 people in the year ending April 2010, up from 7,800 in the previous 12 months. Unemployment should peak at close to 14 per cent, according to the ESRI.
Canada’s ambassador to Ireland, Patrick Binns, said Canada was probably seeing more interest from Irish people wanting to emigrate because its economy had not been as badly hit as other countries.
“We are out of recession and are still open to Irish workers with skills in many areas,” said Mr Binns, who noted the embassy held several events during the year outlining the options available to emigrants.
Usit, which organises working holiday visas for tens of thousands of people every year, is also reporting a 700 per cent rise in interest for its volunteer programmes, which enable people to do volunteer work or teach abroad for a year or more.
“So far the level of e-mail, phone and walk-in demand for the year ahead is pretty extraordinary. People seem determined to make the best use of time available to them,” said Usit’s Seona MacReamoinn, who expects this to continue in 2010.
The opinions and figures expressed in this article seem to contradict those of most of the Irish immigrant advocacy groups here in the U.S. One advocacy group here, in particular, would have us believe that the numbers that they quoted prior to the collapse of the Irish economy would double in the next year. I thought that opinion was way off base in consideration of the tightening of our already stringent laws regarding work authorization here and the serious penalties imposed on those caught breaking those laws. The high rate of unemployment here for American citizens only exacerbates an already serious problem. Although there will always be some who are willing to take a chance, I do feel that there is some credence to the opinion expressed in this article.