Prime Minister Justin Trudeau adjusts his hat as he participates in a ground breaking ceremony for an Amazon distribution centre in Ottawa, Monday August 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Liberals scrap lottery system for reuniting immigrants with their parents

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

The Trudeau government is scrapping an unpopular lottery system for reuniting immigrants with their parents and grandparents and is increasing the number of sponsorship applications it will accept next year.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced changes to the sponsorship program for parents and grandparents Monday, which will see the random selection process for sponsorship applications replaced with a first-come-first-served process.

The government will also accept more parent and grandparent sponsorships in 2019. The current cap of 17,000 applications will be increased to 20,000 next year.

The so-called lottery system for this program drew criticism when it was introduced last year after many potential sponsors said they felt it was unfair.

RELATED: Trudeau says he won’t apologize to heckler, pledges to call out ‘hate speech’

Ottawa is now responding to the feedback Hussen received during a cross-country listening tour last year, the minister said.

“(Canadians) did express some concerns about the lottery, the random selection process,” Hussen said.

“What I’m announcing this morning is feedback that we got from Canadians that they would like to see changes in the selection process.”

Starting in 2019, potential sponsors will indicate their willingness to sponsor a parent or grandparent by filling out an ‘interest to sponsor’ form online. Instead of randomly selecting people from this list for sponsorship, as is the current policy, applications will instead be invited based on the order in which the ‘interest to sponsor’ forms are received until the 20,000 cap is reached.

“This is a fairer first-in system that will benefit all those who are interested,” Hussen said.

“Of course, once we receive the interest-to-sponsor form and we reach the cap, then we go backward and look at who’s actually qualified to sponsor, because they also have meet certain requirements.”

The applications system has long been the source of criticism. Prior to 2017, applications were prioritized based on geography or would have better odds for success if families could afford to pay for expensive immigration lawyers.

Hussen says he believes the current lottery system is fairer than the system that was in place when the Liberals took office, but believes bringing in a first-come-first-serve model will further improve this program.

RELATED: No clear plan yet on how to reunite parents with children

Arghavan Gerami, an immigration and refugee lawyer based in Ottawa, has several clients who met all the requirements for sponsorship this year but were not selected in the lottery.

Families looking to bring their parents or grandparents to Canada to help with children or for cultural or personal reasons were frustrated by the randomness of the lottery selection process and wanted a change, Gerami said.

But it’s important that the government is transparent about how this new system is run, she added.

“It still, to me, is going to be very difficult in terms of transparency to show who were the first 20,000 who applied,’ she said.

“People are going to say, ‘Why didn’t I get in? Are you going to publish how you selected the first 20,000?’ Because essentially it’s going to come down to seconds in a particular minute how many applicants send in an expression of interest.”

The government’s decision to increase the cap on this program comes as the result of persistently high demand. In 2017, just over 100,000 ‘interest to sponsor’ forms were filled out online, according to government data. Initially only 10,000 were invited to submit applications, but the government increased that number to 17,000 this year.

Gerami says she questions why there are caps on this program at all, considering the high level of interest and demand from individuals wishing to sponsor their family members.

“It’s still a quota system that is going to be very hard to expand and to cover all of the applicants,” she said.

“I think you’re still going to have the same issue in the sense that even if you make your best effort to get your form in and be in the first cut, you’re still trying out your luck.”

Hussen says there are caps on virtually all permanent residency immigration programs, which are determined in close consultation with provinces and territories.

He noted the cap on the parents and grandparents sponsorship program was at 5,000 when the Liberals took office in 2015, and will quadruple to 20,000 next year.

A major backlog for processing of these applications has also been reduced. In 2011, the inventory of applications had reached a peak of 167,000 applications. In June that number stood at 26,000.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Valley Huskers sign Canada West all-star Marcel Arruda-Welch

The dynamic return man/defensive back is joining the B.C. Football Conference team in 2019.

Water use by the new brewery taken into account with long-range planning in Chilliwack

Concerns about impacts on Chilliwack’s aquifer led to reaching out to brewing company

Agassiz man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Chilliwack Chief Harrison Blaisdell climbs Central Scouting Bureau rankings

The 17 year old forward is now drawing a second round grade as CSB releases its mid-term list.

Red hot Chilliwack Chiefs stomp Surrey in BCHL battles

The Chiefs extended their Mainland division lead with two weekend wins over the last place Eagles.

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

Trial starts for man accused of killing Winnipeg bus driver

The Winnipeg bus driver was stabbed multiple times back in 2017

Giuliani clarifies comments about Trump Tower Moscow project

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani clarifies comments he made

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

VIDEO: 11-year-old violinist practices for Vancouver Symphony Orchestra debut

Cloverdale student Da-Wei Chan will perform Jan. 31, Feb. 28 with the VSO

Speaker brings report on allegations to B.C. legislature committee

Report describes Darryl Plecas’ suspicions about senior staff

Parole granted for drunk driver that killed BC RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

Doug Ford says the Liberals’ carbon tax will plunge Canada into recession

The Ontario premier said there are already warning signs of difficult economic times ahead

Kamala Harris opens U.S. presidential bid in challenge to Trump

The 54-year old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in a video distributed by her campaign

Most Read