The number of Irish people emigrating to the US increased by 12 per cent last year, and there was also a slight increase in the number of people from the 26 Counties registering to live and work in Britain in 2009, according to new figures compiled by the US and British authorities.
Some 1,637 Irish people were granted legal permanent residence in the US in 2009, up from 1,465 a year earlier. The vast majority (1,066) were granted residence on the basis of having an immediate relative with US citizenship. A further 494 people gained residence on the basis of employment, according to the US department of homeland security.
The rise in emigration to the US mirrors recorded increases in emigration to Canada and Australia in 2009, which experienced 13 per cent and 25 per cent jumps respectively in the number of residence visas issued to Irish nationals.
Figures published by the British department for work and pensions show there was a 7 per cent rise in the number of Irish people registering to work in Britain in the first nine months of 2009.
Some 8,620 people were issued national insurance numbers in Britain up to the end of September, compared to 7,990 in the same period a year earlier. The vast majority of those who registered to work (7,380 people) were between the ages of 18 and 34.
Peter Hammond, director of the London Irish Centre, said there was probably a slight increase in the numbers of Irish people arriving, but it was not yet like the situation in the recession of the 1980s, when there were larger numbers of Irish emigrants.
“People who come here are finding it difficult enough to get work. It’s important to realise the streets of London are not paved with gold,” he said.
Crosscare Migrant Project, which provides advice to people considering emigration, said temporary options of travelling to Australia and Canada continued to be more popular than the US, which has a difficult visa application procedure.
“There continue to be general inquiries about the US but it is simply not as accessible as Canada and Oz for young people who are interested in taking a year or two out doing casual work,” said Joe O’Brien of Crosscare.
Some 18,400 Irish nationals emigrated in the year to April 2009. The Economic and Social Research Institute predicts this trend will continue during 2010 and 2011, with a further 100,000 people leaving the country.