Oh Canada – Why the Irish are flocking for a slice of the pie


In April of this year a staggering 3,850 Canadian visa were snapped up by the Irish desperate to get out of Ireland and grab the opportunity for a prosperous future in Canada.

It was noted that the visas were snapped up in just seven minutes.

The International Experience Canada (IEC) visas allow Irish citizens, between 18 and 35, to live in Canada for two years.

The Irish Ambassador to Canada, Ray Bassett, told IrishCentral how Irish people emigrating to Canada are succeeding in terms of finding work and settling into their new surroundings.

Bassett explained that the Canadian visa system can be a lot easier than for those who want to settle permanently in the U.S.A.

“In Canada, certain provinces like Newfoundland and Alberta are directly targeting the Irish to come and live there.”

The Ambassador explained that in certain areas of work the provinces are allowed to employ their own immigration criteria, separate from the federal criteria, and this allows for much easier access to Canada for Irish immigrants.

“We expect over 15,000 new Irish immigrants this year, and of this we expect about a third of those to seek permanent residency.

“Alberta is taking a lot of the new Irish; Canada as a country has a pro immigration policy which makes it easier for those who wish to stay.”

What makes Canada different is that immigration is viewed positively by the vast majority of the Canadian population.

Ambassador Bassett says that in Canada there is very little anti-social behavior from the Irish as opposed to the stories coming out of Australia in terms of alcohol fueled incidents.

“I think there is a different level of seriousness about moving to Canada. Nobody comes here for the climate, so I think they take a much more serious approach to work and communities here are very welcoming to the Irish.”

“Canada is a country built on immigrants and the Irish are held in very high regard,” says Bassett

“It’s very easy to establish a prosperous life here and I think now, more than ever, it’s easier for younger Irish people emigrating to settle here as there is a much broader Irish community now in comparison to the earlier days.”

“The Irish GAA community is blooming with talks of establishing a Canadian championship,” added the Irish ambassador.

Bassett says that “2014 is going to continue to welcome a host of new Irish immigrants,” but admits that those returning home now are those who are most qualified, such as those from the engineering industry, who are returning to an Ireland that appears to be offering them a greater chance of prosperity then when they first left.

Lisa Collender, Marketing Manager with USIT Ireland, one of Ireland’s leading travel companies specializing in assisting Irish people seeking work abroad, said, “Our program provides assistance with IEC visa application process to ensure correct submissions throughout the various stages.”

“In previous years, most of our participants would have traveled to the major cities like Vancouver and Toronto; this year, we are finding that people are branching out more.

“Alberta has become very popular particularly, because of the availability of construction work.”

She added, “We try to prepare those traveling on our program to open their minds to alternative opportunities. While there are definitely more jobs available in Canada, you do still have to work at it.

“We always encourage our participants to embrace Canadian lifestyle with many trying their hand at the various winter sports that are not generally found in Ireland. Some even go so far as to try curling! There is an ever growing Irish community throughout Canada with lots of online forums to provide practical advice and make the move even easier.”

USIT Ireland stresses that there are other options also available for those who desire a new life. As Collender explained to IrishCentral, a further option has opened up with two new categories.

A specially designed category for young professionals, particularly graduates of post-secondary educational institutions in Ireland, can further their careers by gaining work experience under a pre-arranged contract of employment in Canada.

“The main difference between this and the regular IEC is that they must have a letter of offer or contract of employment that is related to their field of professional experience that supports their career development.”

The second phase is the International Co-Op phase (Internship) category which is designed for those who are registered students.


Known as the "four-seasons playground" nestled in western Canada, Alberta is steeped in history and focused on the great outdoors. It has become a home from home for many Irish immigrants and one Irish woman who is reaping the rewards of her new life is Sharon Whelton.

The young Irish woman graduated with a degree in Journalism and New Media in 2012 from the University of Limerick. Speaking to IrishCentral about her new life, Whelton explained why she sees Canada as a home away from home.

“I moved to Calgary, Alberta in November 2012, having spent the previous summer applying for job after job, to little or no avail in Ireland.