Ireland’s “brain drain” is quickly using up the annual working visa quotas for the United States, Canada and Australia.

Those hopeful Irish emigrants thinking of traveling to Canada to work will have to wait until next year to apply for visas. In March Canada made 5,350 visas available to Irish and UK residents under the International Experience Canada (IEC) programme but they’ve all been used. Now applicants will have to hold their plans until 2013.

A record number of Irish have also being emigrating to Australia. It seems that as Australia increases the number of work visas available, the Irish fill the gap. The Irish Times reported that in the first six months of 2011 a record 21,753 Irish nationals got working visas for Australia. This year the figures will be even higher.

As for the United States, where working visa status is more difficult to achieve, the Irish have already almost used up their quota for the H1B visas (a sponsorship visa for degree holders).

According to New York’s O’Brien & Associates, attorneys at law, “As of June 5, 2012, approximately 55,600 H-1B cap-subject petitions were receipted. USCIS has receipted 18,700 H-1B petitions for advanced degree holders.

Once again the caps are 65,000 for bachelor’s degree holders and 20,000 for advanced degree holders, so the countdown to exhaustion of the quota is really on.”

Those Irish students wishing to come to the US directly after college have the option to apply for a “J” visa which lasts for one year while the J1 or J2 visa allows student to work just for three months during the summer season. In New York at least, the evidence of J1 students arriving for the summer is everywhere. Job applications at local bars and construction sites are on the up and the GAA teams in the Bronx are stocked for the season.

Despite  the outflow of people, according to the CSO, unemployment in Ireland is 14.8 percent (or 309,000 people of work).

Unemployment has dropped by one percent since the same period last year. However, with an estimated 111 Irish people emigrating every week it’s hard to trust the bare statistics.

The most revealing facts among the statistics were the number of long term unemployed. This figure has risen from 7.8 percent to 8.9 percent in the last year.  These are people who have been unemployed for one year or more.

Caro Kinsella, an Irish immigration lawyer based in Florida, recently attended a Jobs Expo in Dublin where 8,707 workers, aged 20 to 50, came looking for employment.

She told IrishCentral that it was “very sad to see so many talented and highly educated people desperate to leave Ireland as nothing is there for them.”