THE number of Irish people seeking a new life in Australia has risen by 45pc in one year.
There were 12,490 workers from Ireland in Australia on primary 457 visas at the end of February, the latest data show.
It compared to 8,620 a year earlier, a rise of 45pc.
The visas are reserved for skilled workers who have been sponsored by an employer.
A business is entitled to sponsor a worker if they cannot find an Australian citizen or permanent resident to fill the role.
The figures confirm that Irish people are still flooding into the country to escape the economic and jobs crisis at home.
According to EU statistics office Eurostat yesterday, the number of jobless young people in Ireland rose in February.
About 30.8pc of the country's under-25s were unemployed during the month, up 0.4pc on January.
But the visa data revealed bad news for Irish families hoping to stay down under.
There was a substantial fall in the number of 457 visa holders being granted permanent residency.
"There has been a general downward trend in growth since the peak in August 2012," a report from the Australian authorities states.
"Compared with the previous month, the number of primary visas granted in February 2013 was 12.3pc lower.
"The number of subclass 457 visa holders granted a permanent residence/provisional visa was down 13pc, compared with the same period last programme year."
Up to the end of February, some 7,300 applications from Irish people were granted for both primary and secondary visas. This amounted to 8.4pc of the total.
A huge increase in Irish people wanting to live in Western Australia was recorded. The number of visas granted shot up by 36pc to 1,810 from 1,330.
New South Wales, which takes in Sydney, is the second most popular destination, with 1,280 primary visas granted to Irish people, 1.2pc down on the previous year.
Ireland remained in third place on the overall visa leader board, behind India and the UK. We are also in third on the 457 visa list.
Visas were granted to more chefs than any other occupation – 4.1pc of the total.