If you want to escape, it will cost you
Not so long ago, emigrants were paid to go to Australia -- today, it could cost a few grand to get into Oz. In the last of a six-part series on beating the downturn, Louise McBride reveals the hidden cost emigrating to find work
WITH up to 300 jobs a day being lost in Ireland, anyone would be tempted to hop on a plane out of here. Although no country is likely to escape, Canada is expected to avoid the worst blows. Small wonder then that Canada is becoming a more popular place to emigrate to than in the past.
Other favourites include Australia and New Zealand. Although the US and Britain have their fair share of recession blues, the traditional links between both countries and Ireland continues to draw Irish emigrants there. However, the cost of emigrating could burn a deep hole in your pockets.
Home to the Rockies, the grizzly bear and the awkward moose, anyone emigrating to Canada certainly won't be hungry for the great outdoors -- but you could need almost €18,000 to enter the country. This is to prove that you have enough money to support yourself and your family.
Under the country's Federal Skilled Worker Programme, you must show that you have at least CA$10,833 (about €6,717) to support yourself in Canada unless you have a permanent job offer from a Canadian employer. This amount increases the more family members there are travelling with you -- if emigrating with one other family member, you must prove that you have $13,469 (€8,350) to support your move; $28,668 (€17,775) if emigrating with another six family members.
Unless you have a close relative living in Canada, one of the easiest ways to emigrate there is under its Federal Skilled Worker Programme. If you have an offer of permanent employment from a Canadian employer, you have a better chance of getting a visa under this scheme. Otherwise, you must have a least one year's experience in one of a number of occupations -- if you have worked in Ireland as a restaurant manager, geological engineer, chef, cook, plumber or crane operator for at least a year for example, you could qualify. It costs CA$550 (about €340) to apply for a 'skilled worker' visa if you are over 22; $150 (€93) if under 22. If your application for a visa is successful, you -- and any spouse or partner that accompanies you -- each must pay a 'Right of Permanent Residence Fee' of $490 (about €304). Children do not have to pay this fee.
If you have a doting granny or another relative living in Canada, you may be able to emigrate there under the Family Class scheme, where a visa costs between $475 (€294) and $550 (€340) if you are over 22. For more information, visit the Canadian government's immigration website at www.cic.gc.ca or contact the Canadian High Commission in London on 0044 2072586600 or at www.canada.org.uk
Be sure you're following the right set of rules if going to Canada -- Quebec has its own immigration requirements. (Visit www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/quebec/index.asp for more information.)
If you're over 30 (the age-limit for the one-year working holiday visa) don't kiss goodbye to your dreams of an Australian outback adventure just yet.
Under the General Skilled Migration programme, which suits people who cannot get sponsored by an Australian employer, you can move to Australia as long as you are under 45 and have experience in certain work, including architecture, accountancy, bricklaying, dentistry, engineering and secondary school teaching. At A$5,030 (€2,532) though, these visas don't come cheap. A working holiday visa only costs about €100. You may also have to cover the cost of health and police checks.
In response to the global recession, Australia recently tightened up its rules for immigrant visas. If you find it hard to get a visa under the Skilled Migration programme and have no qualms about living in the middle of nowhere, you may also be able to emigrate to Oz under the continent's regional migration programme -- these visas also cost $5,030.
Unlike Canada, you do not usually have to prove you have enough money to support yourself in Australia if moving there permanently. However, if visiting Australia under a temporary visa, you must have enough money to support your stay.
"There is no specific amount of money required for temporary entry as that is decided by the length and intention of stay," says Steve Davis, regional director for immigration with the Australian High Commission in London. "The purpose of this policy is to ensure that temporary entrants have the necessary resources available to fund their stay in Australia and their onward travel or return journey home."
For information, visit the Aussie government's immigration website on www.immi.gov.au or contact the Australian High Commission on 0044 2078561563 or at www.uk.embassy.gov.au
If emigrating to New Zealand under its skilled migrant scheme, your visa will set you back €731. You need to apply for the visa through the London branch of Immigration New Zealand. For information, call 0044 1344716199 or visit www.immigration. govt.nz/london
With unemployment in the US at a 17-year high, job competition is bound to be stiff. But if you've decided to take your chances, remember you don't have to apply for an immigrant visa -- with a non-immigrant visa, you can move to the US and work there for a few years without becoming a US citizen.
The fee for a non-immigrant visa is €104. If applying for an immigration visa, the processing fee varies depending on the type of visa -- a standard visa costs €282. For information, visit the website of the US Department of Homeland Security (www.uscis.gov) or call the American Embassy in Dublin on (01) 6688777 or click dublin.usembassy.gov
Last January, Britain went into recession for the first time since 1991. However, Britain -- along with the US and Australia -- continues to be one of the key destinations chosen by Irish emigrants, according to Joe O'Brien, policy officer with Crosscare Migrant Project.
You don't need a visa to emigrate to Britain but it's wise to bring the price of your return flight should it not work out for you over there. Crosscare advises anyone heading to Britain to apply for their national insurance number before looking for a job. This number -- which you give to your employer when you start work -- ensures that the national insurance contributions and tax you pay in Britain are properly recorded, which in turn means you will get any state benefits you are entitled to.
If you emigrate to another country, you could end up paying less tax than you paid in Ireland, depending on how much you earn and where you move to.
In Canada, you usually pay 15 per cent federal tax on the first CA$38,832 you earn, 22 per cent on income between $38,832 and $77,664, 26 per cent on earnings between $77,664 and $126,264 and 29 per cent on income over $126,264. You also usually have to pay provincial tax, depending on which province you live in.
In Australia, you usually pay 15¢ tax on each A$1 earned between $6,001 and $34,000. If you earn between $34,001 and $80,000, you pay $4,200 tax plus 30¢ for each $1 over $34,000; if you earn between $80,001 and $180,000, you pay $18,000 tax plus 40¢ for each $1 over $80,000; if you earn more than $180,001, you pay $58,000 plus 45¢ for each $1 over $180,000. If you pay tax as a non-resident of Australia, the tax rates are different.
In New Zealand, the lowest rate of tax is 13.9 per cent on earnings up to NZ$14,000. If you earn $70,000 or more, you pay tax at the higher 40.4 per cent rate.
In the US, you usually pay between 10 and 35 per cent tax, depending on how much you earn and whether you are single or married. In Britain, you usually pay 20 per cent tax on income up to stg£34,800; 40 per cent on income over stg£34,800. You may also have to pay water and other local authority charges.
If you emigrate, you could lose your social insurance benefits -- such as 'free' dental care and entitlement to state pensions and maternity leave -- in Ireland.
If you emigrate to Switzerland or the European Economic Area (which includes the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) and you worked and paid social insurance contributions there, you may still qualify for social insurance in Ireland when you return, so long as you pay at least one PRSI contribution after you return.
If you are temporarily transferred by your employer to work in Australia, Canada, Quebec, the US or New Zealand, you may be able to pay Irish social insurance contributions (rather than contributions to the country you have emigrated to) and this would ensure you don't lose your Irish benefits.
For info on how you can continue your contributions while abroad, call the PRSI Special Collection Section on (051) 356012.