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Number of Irish migrants to Australia reaches record high

by | May 16, 2012

There has been a massive surge in Irish migration to Australia as the dire state of the Irish economy has prompted many to look for new opportunities in the southern hemisphere. While Ireland’s economy continues to struggle for momentum, the ongoing resources boom sees Australia’s go from strength to strength and more and more Irish people are beginning to appreciate the opportunities of an Australian visa. The most popular option for Irish workers is a 457 visa, which allows holders to live and work in Australia; such is the upswing in applications from Ireland that only British and Indian citizens are granted more visas. “You are seeing an upsurge, the numbers are big,” said Ireland’s ambassador to Australia, Noel White, who added the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has projected a further 15 to 20% increase in 457 applications in the current financial year. “We have a very high unemployment rate; we’re going through a very difficult time economically,” said Mr White. “Australia has a booming economy; within that [Western Australia] has a booming economy. Quite clearly, there is space for our needs and your needs to complement one another.” The current resources boom, centred mostly in Western Australia, has created labour shortages throughout the country as mines continue to grow and Australians leave their current jobs for better opportunities. Skilled migration has been the most commonly proposed solution to labour shortages with the programme receiving an expansion to 190,000 places in last weeks’ federal budget. Western Australia is the most common destination for Irish workers Down Under as the level of opportunities is at its greatest there. However, it is not all good news for Australia and the Irish; in March, WA’s training minister, Peter Collier, was reprimanded by Immigration Minister Chris Bowen for attempting to establish a new visa programme to attract 150,000 further Irish workers to the region. And just last week, Perth police were forced to warn Irish migrants in WA that they risk having their visas cancelled due to drink-related antisocial behaviour.

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