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Canada

Canada scraps ‘cruel’ family reunification lottery for parents and grandparents, reinstates ‘first come, first served’ system

Last year when the lottery was introduced, more than 95,000 filled out an online form to be entered in a draw, but just 10,000 potential sponsors were selected

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2018, 7:57am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2018, 8:46pm

Canada said Monday it is scrapping a family reunification lottery and going back to a first-come, first-serve immigration policy as it looks to double the number of parents and grandparents admitted to the country.

The change back to the old system follows a backlash from frustrated sponsors who described the lottery as “cruel”, “heartless” and a “Vegas-like circus”.

Last year when the lottery was introduced, more than 95,000 filled out an online form to be entered in a draw, but just 10,000 potential sponsors were selected.

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Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said Canada would admit up to 20,500 parents and grandparents under its reunification programme in 2019, and 21,000 in 2020.

The lottery system was a fiasco right from the get go. Reuniting with your loved ones should never be based on the luck of the draw
Jenny Kwan, NDP immigration critic

When the parents and grandparents programme was introduced in 2014, the cap was set at 5000 applications.

The decision to increase these numbers “is a result of continually high demand” for bringing parents and grandparents of Canadians into the country, Hussen said in a statement.

The government, Hussen added, is committed “to helping families live, work and thrive together, in Canada.”

In the statement, Immigration and Refugees Canada said that would-be sponsors could still fill out an “Interest to Sponsor” form online at the beginning of the year.

“However, 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. This process will continue until we reach the 2019 cap of 20 000 complete applications.”

Jenny Kwan, the immigration critic for the opposition NDP, said she welcomed the end of the lottery system.

“The lottery system was a fiasco right from the get go. Reuniting with your loved ones should never be based on the luck of the draw”, said Kwan.

But she said changing the way the applications were handled would do nothing to actually increase the odds of approval. She said that the levels for 2019 and 2020, described on Monday by Hussen, represented no increase because they had already been announced last November.

“This move on its own will not actually ensure that more parents and grandparents are reunited with their children. It’s like accepting additional resumes for the same number of jobs,” she said.

She said the cap on sponsorships of parents and grandparents should be eliminated entirely.