Ireland IEC visa

Four months on, Irish IEC visas are still available

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All figures in this article have been updated to reflect the state of play on August 31, 2015.

Some 450 working holiday visas (WHVs) remain available for Irish citizens who are eligible and interested in moving to Canada – four months on from the opening of the 2015 program.

It’s the first time in several years that Irish citizens have been able to submit an application at their leisure over the summer months. In 2013, Ireland’s allotment was snapped up in two days, while in 2014, the quotas were filled in a matter of minutes.

Some 7,700 of the visas made available to Irish candidates in the International Experience Canada (IEC) program this year were ringfenced as WHVs. Anyone seeking a visa could apply for one during either of two application rounds, each offering 3,350 WHVs.

The first round opened on April 14, and the quota was filled in 12 minutes. The second round opened on April 16, and at the time of writing, 465 remain available – down from a figure of 761 on August 14 (live figures available here).

Those who have already secured a contract of employment before their relocation can avail of one of the 2,500 ‘young professional’ visas, of which 2,209 remain available. Of the 500 ‘international co-op’ visas allocated to those taking part in internships, just 12 applications have been received so far.

At-a-glance – Ireland’s IEC allocations through the years:

    • 2003: 100
    • 2009: 2,500
    • 2010: 4,229
    • 2011: 5,000
    • 2012: 5,350
    • 2013: 6,350
    • 2014: 10,700
    • 2015: 10,700

(In 2014 and 2015, this figure included 2,500 young professional visas, 500 international co-op visas, and 7,700 working holiday visas.)

A reciprocal agreement was first signed between Canada and Ireland in 2003, permitting 100 young people from each country to travel and live in the other.

This number had grown to 2,500 by 2009, when just half of the quota was filled. However, demand has since increased and a new agreement between the two governments in 2014 allowed for 10,700 people to travel in each direction.


“Our understanding is that there was confusion in the way the press reported on the first round – in which the visas were gone in minutes,” Cathy Murphy, Executive Director of the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre told Moving2Canada.

“Many in Ireland took this to mean that all the visas were gone. We had several people write to us after round one thinking that there were none left,” Ms Murphy added.

The slower uptake in Irish IEC visas this year means that applicants with slower internet connections or faulty computers are not being penalised, as unintentionally occurred in previous years when the race for visas was extremely fast.

It also means that anyone currently thinking about moving to Canada can begin their application right away as long as visas are available, so they don’t have to wait until the 2016 program opens.

At-a-glance: Current availability of 2015 WHVs by country:

Brackets indicate change since August 20

Country Available Total offered Waiting list
Australia Unlimited Unlimited N/A
Ireland 465 (-184) 7,700 N/A
Japan 0 (-248) 6,500 170 (+170)
France 0 6,400 5,567 (-4)
UK 0 5,000 3,436 (+117)
Germany 0 4,200 170 (+64)
Rep. of Korea 0 4,000 1,132 (+17)
New Zealand 351 (-91) 2,500 N/A
Italy 0 1,000 208 (+24)
Belgium 0 750 29 (+19)
Sweden 0 550 28 (+24)

Figures correct at time of publishing (August 31, 2015) – click country name for live figures.

Should the full allocation be used up this year, it’s likely that a waiting list for Ireland will open for any other interested candidates. This means that candidates in the system who drop out will have their place offered to those at the top of this list.

Most countries in the IEC program receive a smaller allocation than Ireland, and several of these already have their own waiting lists open for this year. The most notable are France and the UK, who have 5,567 and 3,436 candidates on their lists respectively at the time of writing.

The change in demand for Ireland will no doubt be watched with interest by those planning a move, and may be an indication of the country’s falling unemployment rate. It currently stands at 9.5pc – down from a recent high of 15.1pc in February 2012.

“I don’t believe it’s good or bad news. It’s just a matter of circumstances and a change in need perhaps,” Ms Murphy added.

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