Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino listens to speakers during a news conference in Ottawa on October 2, 2020. A popular immigration program that allows people to sponsor their parents or grandparents to come to Canada is reverting to a lottery system. Mendicino announced the relaunch of the parent and grandparent program today, saying it will open for applications on Oct. 13. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Lottery system for popular parent, grandparent visa program reinstated for this year

The government says it will accept only 10,000 applications for the program this year

A popular immigration program that allows people to sponsor their parents or grandparents to come to Canada is reverting to a lottery system.

Federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced the relaunch of the parent and grandparent program Monday, saying a window for people to apply will open Oct. 13 and close on Nov. 3.

Potential sponsors will be selected at random from among the applicants and be invited to formally apply to sponsor their families.

The program ordinarily opens in January but was delayed this year as officials sought to revamp the system after a first-come, first-served approach buckled under excessive demand last year.

It took just eleven minutes for the maximum number of applications to be submitted and would-be sponsors also complained of trouble accessing the online portal or struggling to fill out the forms.

Before the first-come, first-serve online approach, a lottery system had been used. But that in turn led to widespread frustration that people’s efforts to bring their families to Canada were basically reduced to a game of chance.

The launch of a new system for this year was further delayed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a decision was made to revert to a lottery to get the program underway.

The government is also temporarily reducing how much money a person must earn in order to be able to sponsor, recognizing that many people may have seen their income drop due to the pandemic.

The government says it will accept only 10,000 applications for the program this year, down from the 27,000 accepted last year. But it pledged increase that to 30,000 next year.

“Now, more than ever, family reunification is an important component of Canada’s immigration system,” Mendicino said in a statement.

“It plays a key role in attracting, retaining and integrating the best and the brightest from around the world.”

Every element of Canada’s immigration system has been affected by the pandemic.

Borders slamming shut to slow the spread of the virus have left would-be newcomers stranded throughout the world both by forces in their home countries and due to the Canadian system needing to find ways to quickly move online in order to process applications.

Massive backlogs have been created, and it remains unclear how the system will get out from under those, as well as whether or how the government will adjust the number of newcomers it will accept next year based on how few were able to arrive this year.

The annual levels plan, as it is known, is ordinarily put forward by the government in the fall.

The one for this year — delayed by the 2019 federal election — sought to admit 341,000 people in 2020.

An updated one is due to be tabled by the end of October.

Kareem El-Assal, who oversees policy for CanadianVisa.com, said all signs point to a return to “business as usual” for immigration to Canada post-pandemic.

The launch of the updated parent program, ongoing acceptance of applications under the Express Entry economic program and a commitment in the throne speech to immigration suggest the government is going to try to press ahead with targeting over 300,000 new permanent residents a year, said El-Assal, who was the former head of immigration research for the Conference Board of Canada.

“That doesn’t mean they are physically going to come here any time soon,” he said.

“But they will.”

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Immigration

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kwick’kanum (Eric Pelkey), a hereditary chief of the Tsawout Nation, addressed the crowd that gathered at Mount Newton Cross Road and Highway 17 on Oct. 23. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: Pat Bay Highway reopens after rally supporting Mi’kmaq fishing rights

Supporters call on government to recognize Indigenous treaty rights

Sooke man Rik Downer spent two weeks in the Royal Jubilee Hospital after contracting flesh-eating bacteria. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Sooke man’s bumped knee leads to fight for life

Man unknowingly contracts case of rare flesh-eating disease

Const. Graham Walker of the Saanich Traffic Safety Unit recreates an incident involving a driver who police say attempted to film the scene of a crash while driving up Highway 17. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police track down driver caught filming accident scene on Pat Bay Highway

Driver issued $368 ticket, points on their licence

The 21st annual Japanese Cultural Fair streams online Oct. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)
Esquimalt’s Japanese Cultural Fair takes tastes, experiences and cultures online

21st annual free event streams Saturday, Oct. 24 starting at noon

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Most Read