Surge in emigration as economic downturn takes toll...
THE NUMBER of people moving to live in Australia, Canada, the US, New Zealand and Britain over the past year has increased sharply, reflecting a major surge in emigration due to the recession.
New figures show Irish citizens have received 21 per cent more long-term resident visas for Australia, 49 per cent more New Zealand resident visas and 33 per cent more US immigrant visas.
There has also been a 100 per cent increase in the number of Canadian work permits issued to Irish people and a significant increase in the number of similar visas issued for Australia. The number of people moving to Britain has risen by 2 per cent in 2010, which amounts to just under 1,000 Irish people moving to Britain every month to live.
The figures from five of the most popular destinations for Irish emigrants are in line with recent data from Central Statistics Office, showing 65,300 people emigrated in the year to April 2010, the highest number leaving the country since 1989.
Britain and Australia are the most popular destinations for Irish emigrants but there is also a major increase in the number of people moving to work in Canada.
In the first six months of 2010, Canada issued 3,077 work permits to Irish citizens, which is more than the 3,047 it issued during the whole of 2009. This corresponds with a steady rise in Irish workers in Canada recently: 2,959 in 2009; 2,617 in 2008; and 2,392 in 2007.
Australia has seen a similar increase in the issuing of permanent residence visas. In the year to the end of June 2010, 3,041 Irish people got migration programme visas (for highly skilled workers), up from 2,501 a year earlier. A separate visa programme, which enables Australian firms to sponsor workers on a temporary basis, is also experiencing a big increase in Irish applicants. In the five months to November 30th, some 2,290 people received these visas, compared to 3,370 for the whole of the previous 12-month period.
However, the number of holiday working visas issued to Irish citizens under 31 years for Australia fell to 14,833 in the year to June 30th, 2010, down significantly from a record high of 22,786 in the previous 12 months.
Liz O’Hagan, founder of the firm Australian Visa Specialists, said this probably reflected the fact that many young people had already been on the programme and were now looking for ways to get long-term Australian visas.
Britain has not experienced a dramatic upturn in immigration. Some 5,630 national insurance numbers were issued in the first six months of 2010, suggesting full-year figures will surpass the 11,050 people in 2009 and the 10,550 people in 2008.
The US issued 287 immigrant visas to Irish people in the year to end September 2010. This represents a 33 per cent increase on the figure in 2009, although it is so small a number it is almost irrelevant to the figures.
Some 1,637 people gained legal permanent resident status in the US in the year to end September 2009 but no figures are available yet for 2010. Some 14,444 non-immigrant visas, covering students work programmes, intra-company transfers and other temporary workers, were also issued in the year to end September 2010.
Irish immigrant groups also suggest there has been an increase in illegal emigration to the US.
The number of permanent resident visas issued by New Zealand to Irish people is up 49 per cent at 434 in the year to end June 2010. It has also issued 4,010 work visas to Irish people, up from 3,936 in the previous 12-month period.
Dr Alan Barrett, who co-ordinates the migration programme at the Economic and Social Research Institute, said the emigration figures reflected one of the most depressing aspects of the economic downturn. He said, given there are few job opportunities in Ireland, it was probably preferable that people went away to work elsewhere to maintain their skills.
“But regardless of these possible benefits, emigration that is involuntary is saddening and brings back sad memories for people of my generation who left college in the 1980s,” he said.
Report by JAMIE SMYTH - Irish Times
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