Irish job-seekers are increasingly turning their backs on Australia, as new figures show a significant drop in the number of approved applications for working visas.
Some 11,996 Irish people arrived on a first-year working holiday visa in the year up to June 30, 2014 – a fall of more than 37 percent from the previous year, and 53.5 percent from the record high of 25,827 from 2011-2012.
Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection also revealed a sharp drop in the number of Irish people who were granted '457 visas,' which are temporary residence permits offered to skilled workers.
Just 5,947 such visas were granted to Irish nationals in the 2013-2014 period, down from 10,291 the previous year.
Some observers have attributed the fall in visa numbers to either a sign that the Irish economy is improving or that other foreign destinations are becoming more attractive.
However, the figures also show that some categories of Irish emigration Down Under are still rising.
The number of those obtaining permanent residency has increased from 5,209 in 2012-2013 to 6,171 in the last financial year, while the number of Irish people becoming Australian citizens has jumped sharply from 1,796 in 2012-2013 to 2,843 in the last year.
The strong citizenship figures have been attributed to the surge in emigration in the years immediately following the collapse of the Irish economy in 2008.
New figures also reveal that fewer Irish people are staying on in Australia for a second-year working holiday visa, which can be applied for after working for three months in a rural or regional area. Applications for the extension are down by more than a quarter last year to 5,223.
Despite the fall in applications, the Australia-based Irish Echo newspaper reports that the Irish are still well represented Down Under, ranking seventh in the list of countries with the most citizens in Australia on working holiday visas in June last year, at 9,392.
Almost all Irish people applying for a first-year working holiday visa are granted one, with a success rate of 99.8 percent. The success rate for the second-year working holiday visa is still extremely high, at 96.2 percent.
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