Canada increases new visa allocation
IRISH emigrants just can't get enough of Canada. And it seems the feeling is mutual.
Under new rules, Canada has increased its working holiday visa allocation to Ireland by 1,000 and will now also allow Irish people to apply for a second visa.
The unexpected changes will benefit those applying for the one-year visa programme for 18-35 year olds.
Last year, when the Irish quota of 4,000 was filled, Ireland was allocated extra visas that were not taken up by other countries.
This year, there will be 5,000 visas on offer, but it's arguably the opportunity to apply for a second one-year visa that will have the biggest impact.
It is anticipated that thousands of Irish people who are already in Canada on a one-year holiday visa are expected to apply to stay for a second year.
"I'm here for the foreseeable future," Seamus Blake (25), one of those in line to benefit, told the Irish Independent from Toronto last night.
"My family is at home but there is no work to go back to. Once I've been here for two years and working, I'm eligible for permanent residency. When that time comes, it is something I will be looking into."
Mr Blake, from Liscannor in Clare, has been in Toronto since last April and has secured work as an insurance consultant.
Tonight, 300 Irish newcomers to Toronto will gather for an 'information meeting' organised by the local Irish chamber of commerce.
"The majority of Irish people who emigrate to Canada hit Toronto first," Marguerite Bourke, of Enterprise Ireland in Toronto, said. "It's the biggest city, there's more jobs, more opportunities."
The Irish Ambassador to Canada, Ray Bassett, said Canada was "more high profile" in Ireland than ever before. "Canada is very much flavour of the month," he said.
The Canadian government has indicated that -- because of its booming economy and relatively small population -- its labour force will be boosted solely through immigration in the coming years.