Australia is set to issue a record five million plus visas this year, with Irish people getting a disproportionately large share in some categories.
Increasing numbers of students, tourists and workers on short-term visas mean up to 1.9 million foreigners will be in the country at any one time this year, the Secretary of the Department of Immigration, Michael Pezzullo, said.
The number of permanent migrants is also surging, with this year’s number likely to surpass the existing high of 185,000, which was set in 1969.
Irish people were the sixth most likely applicants to get permanent residency in Australia last financial year, up from 5,209 in 2012-13 to 6,171. The number of Irish becoming Australian citizens rose even more sharply from 1,796 in 2012-13 to 2843 in 2013-14.
That trend is likely to continue as people who left Ireland after the economic collapse in 2008 move from temporary visas to permanent residency, to citizenship.
Irish nationals were the fourth most likely to get an employer-sponsored skilled 457 visa in 2013-14, but this category has steadily declined in popularity as the economy improves in Ireland. The 457 visa figures fell from 10,291 Irish in 2012-13 to 5,947 in 2013-14.
Mr Pezzullo said there had been a rapid shift in the ethnic composition of new migrants away from Europe towards East and South Asia.
“We face no less challenges than our predecessors did in the aftermath of World War II,” Mr Pezzullo said.
About 90,000 Irish-born people live in Australia.
About 1.2 million Australian residents were born in Britain and more than 600,000 in New Zealand, as part of an overall foreign-born population of
Australia now has a higher proportion of its population born overseas than at any time since the gold rushes of the 19th-century.
“This is equivalent to a migrant-to-population share of almost 28 per cent,” Mr Pezzullo said.
He said skilled migrants are carefully targeted to meet the country’s economic needs.
“If a nation’s immigration program is well crafted and targeted, and migrants enjoy high levels of economic participation, as distinct from high levels of social exclusion
and welfare-dependency, immigration has beneficial impacts in terms of growth in the demand for goods and services; increases in national income, and living standards; improved labour participation; expansion of the economy’s productive capacity; and growth in household consumption and public revenues,” Mr Pezzullo said.