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Desperate jobless chase Canada visas

DESPERATE young Irish emigrants have snapped up 2,000 Canadian visas in just 48 hours.

The batch of USIT working holiday visas, available to under-35s and full-time students, filled up after only two days earlier this month, and eager applicants who were unsuccessful are now on a waiting list.

But Visa First, another visa processing company, expects to be allocated up to 2,000 more Canadian visas later this year, though no date has been disclosed by the Canadian Embassy.

Edwina Shanahan, a spokesperson for Visa First said: "Irish nationals are getting up to 4,000 visas in total this year, to go on a working holiday visa."

Up to last year USIT was the only company permitted to issue these visas, but due to demand the situation is about to change.

"We expect that the extra visas will be out in the first quarter of the year. They haven't been issued yet, and we were supposed to get information last December, but it's been delayed," explained Edwina.

New applicants are advised to keep watch on migration websites amidst hopes that the Canadian government will soon agree to provide more places for the Irish participants.

Seona MacReamoinn, a spokesperson for USIT, confirmed that their under-35 Canadian visa filled up much quicker than last year, as the recession here takes its toll on young jobseekers.

"The under-35 program reached the quota in a couple of days, which was much speedier than last year. It was to be expected in the current climate."

"Canada [has] increased in popularity at the moment because the recession probably hasn't bitten as tightly there as elsewhere, but it has consistently developed in attraction as a destination for independent travellers and those seeking a working holiday experience."

Visa applicants are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, and frantic jobseekers have been lining up for a ticket to new opportunities.

"The feedback over the years has been outstandingly positive," added Seona.

Ms Shanahan advised applicants to be flexible and open to travel to Alberta, Canada where there may be better opportunities, since most Irish visa holders travel to Toronto.

hnews@herald.ie