USIT, the leading Irish student travel agent, says many of those applying for a 12-month Canadian work visa will not be granted one because of the "phenomenal demand" for them.
There are 1,000 places available for working visas and they were filled within two days. Unlucky applicants have being put on a waiting list and it is hoped that the Canadian government will expand its work visa program in the coming weeks.
"We filled the 1,000 places for the under-35 working holiday scheme within two days of them going on offer. The waiting list is still open but we don’t want to create false expectations for people,” said USIT spokeswoman Seona Mac Reamoinn.
There is also a limit of 1,000 student-working visas available.
The Canadian ambassador to Ireland, Patrick Binns, said that his government might offer visas to more applicants.
Speaking to the Irish Times, Binns said: “Last year we started off with 2,000 visas for students and under 25s but we were able to get an additional 500 visas later.”
Binns added that there was no guarantee that capacity would be increased and has asked unsuccessful applicants to apply for working visas in other countries.
Many of those that travel to Canada are hopeful of finding permanent employment in the country. Canada issued 3,000 visas to Irish nationals in 2009 and 2,607 visas in 2008, and has become a prime destination for Irish emigrants.
"During the Celtic Tiger graduates were looking at spending a year abroad on a holiday working visa and then return home to work but now when people get there they are more likely to look to stay and work for longer,” said Sean Gannon, Director of the careers advisory service in Trinity College Dublin.
It is also evident that the U.S. is no longer the primary destination for Irish emigrants. Strict immigration laws and limiting visas are the primary reasons for shunning the States.
Andy Rohan is a 26-year-old software developer and is currently on a 3-year career break. In an interview with the Irish Times he said that he hopes to find permanent employment in Canada.
"I went there for a quick holiday in December and spoke to a recruitment consultant, who told me I should be able to find work in my field. I’ve also been looking on Canadian recruitment websites and I’m pretty confident that I will be able to get work.
"I’ve no mortgage tying me to Ireland. My hope is that I can get a job for a year and then stay on in Canada by applying for a different type of visa, a skilled worker visa. I think I would emigrate if I got a good job. My career break is for three years but I don’t have to come back.”