Family reunification lottery scrapped, more applications to be accepted

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The lottery system adopted by the Liberal government for reuniting immigrant families was flawed from the very beginning. It simply resulted in people applying to sponsor their parents and grandparents year after year hoping they would get lucky once. For many it was a race against time given the advancing age of their parents and grandparents. Now the federal government has announced it will be returning to a first-come, first-served system which they admit is a fairer system than the controversial lottery system.

Going forward, 20,500 parents and grandparents will be accepted under its reunification program in 2019, and 21,000 in 2020.

To reach those targets, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada will accept 20,000 parent and grandparent reunification applications next year, up from 17,000 this year and 10,000 in 2016.
Interested applicants will still have to fill out an interest to sponsor form online in the new year, but “instead of randomly selecting the sponsors to apply, we will invite them to submit an application to sponsor their parents and grandparents based on the order in which we receive their interest to sponsor forms,” reads a press release.

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The lottery system was also criticized by potential sponsors. They sent in hundreds of pages of correspondence to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen calling the random selection “cruel,” and “heartless.”

The department said next year’s change “will streamline access to the program and improve client experience.”

But several questions remain about the fairness of the system the lottery system is replacing. It may be recalled that the system whereby applications will be processed depending on the order in which it was received was flawed because it favored those with the means and ability to ensure their lawyer or representative got early in the queue to ensure their application was received on time.
There was a time when representatives and applicants queued up overnight to get their application in on time. There were protests from those who lived very far away from the immigration offices.

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The family reunification program has been plagued with massive backlogs in the past, as the number of applicants far exceeded the limited number of spots. The number dropped from a peak of 167,000 people, in 2011, to just under 26,000 people, in June 2018, according to the immigration department.

It remains to be seen how the government can re-introduce the earlier system while ensuring fairness to those at a geographical disadvantage. -CINEWS

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