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Canada offers new visa to young Irish workers

Thousands of young Irish people already in Canada on a one-year working holiday visa will be able to apply for a second year, under changes in the rules announced by the Canadian government.

Canada has also increased its visa allocation to Ireland from 4,000 to 5,000 after the quota for Ireland in 2010 was snapped up. The working holiday visa is available for 18- to 35-year-olds.

The Economic and Social Research Institute estimates that 100,000 people will emigrate in the next two years.

Within hours of the 2011 visas for Canada becoming available for application, agencies, including Usit and VisaFirst, as well as the Canadian Embassy, fielded thousands of calls from young Irish people looking to make the move to the Great White North.

For many, the prospect of emigration is a bitter byproduct of our economic woes. But others see moving abroad as an opportunity to work and live in thriving economies and advance their careers when they might otherwise be joining the dole queues at home.

The Canadian economy is growing to such an extent that they will be dependent on foreign workers for the next number of years.

Phil McLaughlin, from Bandon, emigrated to Vancouver in October 2009. Phil, who graduated from UCC in 2005 with a business degree, said of his move to Vancouver, "At first there was some difficulty getting work, but after a month or two everyone that I had travelled with had found jobs. Not everyone was doing what they were trained in specifically, but everyone was making money."

Phil has since returned to Ireland to attend college, but many of his friends have remained in Canada. In order to do so, they had to find an employer who was willing to sponsor them.

"Most people I know who wanted to stay longer than the one year managed to find a job that was willing to sponsor them without too much trouble," Phil said.

"I can understand why it is so popular here. You can ski all winter, the summers are great, and overall the quality of life is as good as anywhere else. I'd have no problem recommending Canada to people."

Alan Gallagher, business development manager with VisaFirst, agrees with this assessment.

"Canadian cities regularly rank very high on lists of the best places to live," he said. "The economy is strong, there are plenty of jobs and in many cases there are not enough Canadians to fill them. Another thing that makes Canada so attractive is its proximity to Ireland, relative to Australia for example."

From this year Irish people will be entitled to apply for two one-year visas instead of being restricted to just a single-year visa.

Ireland's extra allocation has come from other countries around the world which did not take up their full quota last year.

Sunday Independent