5,000 of 'lost generation' won't return from Canada
Almost 5,000 Irish emigrants have permanently settled in Canada since the beginning of the recession, new figures obtained by the Sunday Independent reveal.
The latest statistics from the Canadian Department of Citizenship and Immigration come as Irish visa trends suggest emigrants are putting more thought into their moves abroad and generally tend to stay longer in the North American country.
Over the past six years around 3,200 Irish nationals have become permanent residents of the North American country, while more than 1,500 have become Canadian citizens.
Despite a recent decline in emigration figures, so far, the 'lost generation' are showing no sign of return. The number of Irish opting for permanent residency in Canada has more than doubled from 395 in 2009 to 1,015 in 2013.
Those choosing to become Canadian citizens have also consistently increased over the past six years and the trend is expected to continue.
Edwina Shanahan, marketing manager at Visa First, said demand for Canada has soared after some 10,000 Canadian working visas for Ireland were made available in the first three months of this year.
"The interest from applicants applying for further stay visas has increased substantially, we have additional people working on that team now," she told the Sunday Independent.
"Canada has become a lot more amenable to our clients than Australia, and an awful lot of people are going towards the more permanent option if they are eligible," she said. Last year the Sunday Independent revealed that 22,000 Irish have permanently settled in Australia since the recession hit.
However, major changes to Canada's visa application system make the Canadian dream a very attractive long-term option for emigrants.
The International Experience Canada (IEC), launched in January, is a working-holiday visa allowing people aged 18-35 to work in Canada for up to two years.
Applicants can also bring dependent children with them on this visa, which is an advantage over the equivalent scheme in Australia.
"There are more families emigrating to Canada than to Australia. The age profile that went is of an age for buying properties, buying homes," said Ms Shanahan.
"In Australia and New Zealand you are meant to be single, have no criminal record and no medical history that would concern immigration, but in Canada they very much look at the profile of the person and very much look at people who will come, migrate and stay there. Canada's intention is to hold on to people, particularly skilled people."
Another reason Canada is growing in popularity is that emigrants tend to work in their occupation rather than part-time jobs.
"You'll find traders working in trades, engineers working as engineers; they're not making sandwiches or working in Irish bars as much as they may have in Australia," said Ms Shanahan.
Commenting on the figures, Marie-Claire McAleer, a senior research and policy officer at the National Youth Council of Ireland, urged the Government to introduce new measures to support emigrants who want to return home.