Immigrants peeved by federal government’s switch to sponsorship lottery

January 5, 2017

By Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star |

After failing to make the cut to sponsor his parents to Canada in January 2016, Daniel Dodero began compiling their 2017 application package early last summer.

In November, in order to have a better chance at securing his parents a coveted spot in the first-come, first-serve system, he hired a courier to make sure the application would be hand-delivered to the Immigration Department’s Mississauga processing centre on Tuesday as soon as the office opened its door to accept applications.

Then just before Christmas, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced an overhaul of the intake process for the 2017 parent and grandparent sponsorship program.

Instead of continuing the old system that usually saw spots run out within days, officials have adopted a lottery system to award the spots and will randomly draw 10,000 individuals from the pool and invite them to submit full applications.

That means all the efforts Dodero made in the last few months to compile documents for his parents in Venezuela are in vain, with a new application kit and guide coming next Monday.

Dodero has already spent $250 on the mailing fees and another $200 to a local courier. The expenses are nonrefundable.

“We missed the cut last time and we planned in advance this time. We are just totally disappointed. If the government was going to change the process, it should have let us know in June,” said Dodero, 35, an aircraft maintenance engineer who immigrated to Toronto in 2009.

“All our documents for the applications are already signed (and notarized) and they are all going to be useless if we have to reapply again in 2017.”
Under the new system, applicants have between now and February 2 to complete an online form on the immigration website to enter the draw. If selected, they have 90 days to submit the full application.

Officials said the new system was introduced partially to address the concerns over applicants paying as much as $400 to hire couriers to be at the front of the line each year.

“We’re ensuring everyone can access the application process by giving them the same chance to have their name chosen,” Immigration Minister John McCallum said in a statement.

For years, since the former Conservative government capped the annual number of parents and grandparents sponsorship applications to reduce backlog, competition for one of the 5,000 parent and grandparent sponsorship spots had been intense.

Applicants would pay courier services hundreds of dollars to line up outside the immigration office hoping to make the cut as soon as the door was open. Applications that didn’t make the cut would be returned and resubmitted.

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