About Us

Country profile - Ireland

Ireland's economic recovery is underway after numerous years of recession following the global financial crisis. By late 2014, the economy was in a position for the Irish Government to implement a fiscally neutral budget ending years of austerity. The export sector has taken an important role in expanding the Irish economy, while domestic consumption and bank lending to domestic households and small to medium enterprises has remained weak.

Australia and Ireland have a number of bilateral instruments in place covering taxation and working holiday arrangements for young people when migrating between the two countries. Although the Irish economy is recovering, favourable economic conditions in Australia have encouraged increased skilled migration from Ireland to Australia. Ireland is currently ranked as the sixth source country for temporary and permanent skilled migration to Australia.

Population

At the end of June 2014, 93,180 Irish-born people were living in Australia, 39 per cent more than at 30 June 2006. This is equivalent to 1.4 per cent of Australia's overseas-born population and 0.4 per cent of Australia's total population.

For Australia's Irish-born migrants:

  • The median age of 39.2 years is comparable to that of the general population of 37.3 years.
  • Males substantially outnumbered females—54 per cent compared with 46 per cent.

Permanent migration

Australia's permanent Migration Programme incorporates economic and family reunion migration and is the main pathway to permanent residence. The only other way for migrants to obtain permanent residence is to be accepted into Australia on humanitarian grounds.  The Migration Programme is based on non-discriminatory principles relating to nationality, gender and religion. People who meet the criteria set out in the Migration Act 1958 can apply to migrate.

Permanent migration refers to the number of outcomes in any given year, without taking into account whether the visa recipient actually arrived and settled in Australia.  Skilled migration focuses on facilitating the permanent entry of those who can make a positive contribution to Australia through their skills, qualifications, entrepreneurial spirit and employment potential.  Family migration facilitates the entry of close family members of Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens. The programme is currently dominated by partners and dependent children, but also provides options for other family members, such as Carers, Parents and Aged Dependent Relatives.

The following table shows the size and composition of the skilled and family migration categories from 2011–12 to 2014–15.

Migration category 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 Per cent change 
on previous year

Per cent change
for the period

Skilled migration (points tested)
Skilled Regional166 41 17 15 -11.8 -91.0
Skilled Independent531 809 1,252 1,158 -7.5 118.1
State/Territory Nominated987 712 618 602 -2.6 -39.0
Skilled migration (non-points tested)
Business Innovation and Investment28 6 0 0 n/a -100.0
Distinguished Talent0 5  < 5  < 5 200.0 n/a
Employer Sponsored2,397 2,752 3,469 3,692 6.4 54.0
Total: Skilled visa grants 4,109 4,325 5,357 5,470 2.1 33.1
Skilled visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)83.2 83.0 86.8 88.4 n/a n/a
Family migration
Child20 16 13 22 69.2 10.0
Partner791 838 767 673 -12.3 -14.9
Parent17 20 26 15 -42.3 -11.8
Other Family0  < 5  < 5 0 -100.0 n/a
Total: Family visa grants 828 875 807 710 -12.0 -14.3
Family visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)16.8 16.8 13.1 11.5 n/a n/a
Special Eligibility
Special Eligibility < 5 9 7 7 0.0 200.0
Total: Permanent migrants 4,938 5,209 6,171 6,187 0.3 25.3

Temporary migration

Depending on the purpose and duration of their visit, people can come to Australia on a Visitor visa, or through another appropriate temporary visa. Temporary visas are designed for specific purposes, for example, study, working holidays or other specialist activities. Temporary residents are required to pay taxes on income earned in Australia and do not normally have access to public welfare and might not have access to public health programmes.

The Student visa programme consists of a range of visa categories that broadly correspond to education sectors. Students must study with an education provider and in a course registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students. The subclass 457 visa programme allows Australian employers to sponsor foreign workers for employment in management, professional, technical and skilled trades positions. The programme is demand-driven and highly responsive to Australian labour market conditions. Visitor visas are mostly used by people visiting Australia for holidays, recreation, or to see family and friends. People may also use Visitor visas for certain short-term business activities.

The following table shows the size and composition of the Student visa programme, Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) and Visitors from Ireland.

Temporary visa category 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15 Per cent change
on previous year
Per cent change
for the period
International Students
English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students< 5 < 5 < 5 < 5 100.0 100.0
Schools< 5 < 5 0 6 n/a 200.0
Vocational Education and Training456 568 562 519 -7.7 13.8
Higher Education79 64 64 39 -39.1 -50.6
Postgraduate Research26 22 12 15 25.0 -42.3
Non-Award81 48 64 60 -6.3 -25.9
Foreign Affairs or Defence0 0 0 0 n/a n/a
Total: International Student visa grants 645 706 703 641 -8.8 -0.6
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)10,134 10,291 5,947 4,119 -30.7 -59.4
Visitors
Tourist47,834 47,947 47,115 47,935 1.7 0.2
Business visitor2,512 2,442 2,391 2,507 4.9 -0.2
Medical Treatment21 13 16 30 87.5 42.9
Total: Visitor visa grants 50,367 50,402 49,522 50,472 1.9 0.2
Working Holiday Maker Programme
Initial19,492 11,817 6,763 5,221 -22.8 -73.2
Extension6,335 7,300 5,233 2,572 -50.9 -59.4
Total: Working Holiday visa grants 25,827 19,117 11,996 7,793 -35.0 -69.8

Main occupations

There are a wide variety of occupations that potential migrants can nominate for, which are acceptable for permanent and temporary skilled migration to Australia. The following table shows the main occupations amongstfor Irish nationals for Points Tested Skilled Migration outcomes and Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) grants.

Period Temporary Work
(Skilled) visa
(subclass 457)
No. of migrants Points Tested Skilled Migration No. of migrants
2014–15
Carpenters and joiners 285 Registered nurses 164
Registered nurses 156 Electricians 117
General practitioners and resident medical officers 150 Carpenters and joiners 110
Plumbers 121 Civil engineering professionals 97
Human resource professionals 92 Accountants 93
Bricklayers and stonemasons 77 Other engineering professionals 55
Electricians 69 Secondary school teachers 41
Accountants 68 Other medical practitioners 26
Advertising and marketing professionals 68 Construction managers 22
Motor mechanics 59 Plumbers 22
2013–14
Carpenters and joiners 483 Accountants 129
Plumbers 191 Registered nurses 126
Registered nurses 186 Electricians 116
General practitioners and resident medical officers 160 Civil engineering professionals 115
Electricians 122 Carpenters and joiners 89
Motor mechanics 114 Other engineering professionals 52
Civil engineering professionals 111 Secondary school teachers 35
Architectural, building and surveying technicians 110 Generalist medical practitioners 30
Human resource professionals 100 Plumbers 23
accountants 99 Construction managers 21
2012–13
Carpenters and joiners 794 Civil engineering professionals 103
Contract, program and project Administrators 386 Accountants 97
Plumbers 342 Carpenters and joiners 60
Civil engineering professionals 317 Electricians 53
Electricians 311 Registered nurses 49
Registered nurses 305 Other engineering professionals 43
Motor mechanics 218 Industrial, mechanical and production engineers 29
Architectural, building and surveying technicians 165 Software and applications Programmers 28
Accountants 155 Generalist medical practitioners 25
General practitioners and resident medical officers 154 ICT business and systems analysts 17
2011–12
Carpenters and joiners 645 Carpenters and joiners 104
Civil engineering professionals 505 Accountants 75
Contract, program and project Administrators 427 Electricians 73
Electricians 291 Civil engineering professionals 66
Plumbers 245 Registered nurses 38
Accountants 233 Metal fitters and machinists 32
Registered nurses 227 Bricklayers and stonemasons 31
Architectural, building and surveying technicians 189 Plumbers 25
General practitioners and resident Medical officers 186 Software and applications programmers 25
Motor mechanics 185 Other engineering professionals 24

Geographic distribution

The following table shows the geographic distribution of migrants, based on permanent additions, international students, Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) and permanent departures.

Permanent additions are the sum of those granted a permanent residency visa while in Australia, and those granted a visa through an Australian mission abroad, who have entered Australia during the respective reporting period.

Population (%)NSWVic.QldSAWATas.NTACT
Proportion of all persons counted in the Census - 2011322520710212
Proportion of Ireland-born counted in the Census - 2011332216521111
Permanent additions - 2014–15 (%)
Skill stream (primary)28 12 10 2 42 0 6 0
Skill stream (dependent)21 24 10 4 37 0 4 0
Family stream26 25 21 3 22 0 2 1
Temporary entrants - 2014–15 (%)
International students51 18 12 0 15 0 1 2
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) (primary)31 17 10 1 36 0 4 1
Permanent departures (%)
All Ireland-born permanent residents38 18 14 3 24 0 1 2

Country ranking

This table uses rankings to show the significance of Irish migration for the past four financial years.

Ranked position of migrants2011–122012–132013–142014–15
Population in Australia18 15 14 16
Points Tested Skilled Migration11 12 10 11
Employer Sponsored6 5 4 4
Total Skill stream8 6 5 6
Total Family stream16 14 15 17
International students44 43 47 50
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) 3 3 4 6
Visitors17 16 17 18