Update: Ironically, the day I published this post the government announced that they would switch from the random selection to the first-come, first-served basis. They would also increase the cap up to 20,000 applications per year. You would still have to express your interest online, though. Basically, the government is going back to the beginning and this is a move in the right direction. To tell the truth, I am genuinely concerned about the IRCC website crashing the first minute the process starts. I hope they thought through the technical side of things. The next update with more details on the process is promised to us this fall.
On December 14th, 2016, two weeks before the annual application intake for parents and grandparents sponsorship program was to re-open again, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) abruptly announced a huge change. IRCC introduced a random selection method to replace the usual first-come-first-serve application basis.
Eighteen months and 4 rounds of invitations later, I would like to demonstrate how the new process proved to be disastrous.
You would be able to see the outcome of these changes and all the flaws of the current random selection system.
Continue reading to find 6 reasons why it should be changed.
One. False reasoning
On January 4th, 2016, in Mississauga, Ontario, the IRCC Case Processing Center (CPC) opened its doors only to find many couriers on their doorstep, lined up and waiting to drop off their envelopes. This occasion started an emotional discussion about the first-come-first-serve system benefiting those who could afford to pay for local couriers to deliver their documents faster or lived close to the CPC in Ontario.
One may find these arguments false as courier services, both local and international, were freely available and had affordable fees. Families, sponsoring their parents or grandparents, are supposed to be financially responsible for their relatives for a period of 10 years, so a small courier fee is not supposed to be an issue.
The way the new principle was introduced – just two weeks before the usual intake process start date – was extremely disrespectful. By the time it happened, most interested families had already prepared their documents, spent money on translation and courier services, hired representatives and paid often non-refundable fees to them. They worked hard for years to reach the financial requirements of the program. Those are exactly the people who benefited from the old system – ones who are organized, responsible and serious about the entire process. Instead of embracing this approach, the government crushed it.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen believes that “It’s a very fair system”. I have to strongly disagree with the Minister. Let’s consider the following example. Two families enter the draw at the same time in January of 2017. Family #1 wins right away and gets to reunite with their parents. Family #2 doesn’t win in the 1st or the 2nd draw. They try to apply again in 2018 and still no luck for the 3rd or the 4th draw. How fair is that? Are they ever going to be selected? Will their relatives stay alive long enough for that? How cruel is it to play a game of luck with the people’s lives? These questions remain unanswered.
Let’s assume that another family entered the draw and won. They accessed the lottery without checking the requirements of the program, believing it to be, as many people do, similar to the US Green Card lottery. While completing the application, they realized that they didn’t qualify due to financial shortages which is not a rare situation.
In early 2018 the government issued 10,000 invitations to meet their annual quota only to send out 8,500 more in the middle of that year. One may assume that only 1,500 of the applications were eligible. That corresponds to 15% and is quite a low success rate. If it stays the same for the second round, the program would be about 70% short of its goal. Just imagine that only in 2018 the random selection might have taken away a chance to reunite for thousands of families!
Five. Lack of transparency
Similar situation happened in 2017: about 95,000 people expressed their interest, 10,000 received invitations to apply and only 1,200 actually sent in the paperwork. Then, in the beginning of September, the government announced the second round for the remaining spaces – and the outcome was unclear. One Ontario paper mentioned “9,500 out of 10,000” results in their article but there were no official statements released. If the first round of invitations reached a success rate of just 12%, then it is statistically highly unlikely to achieve 95% after the second round. The government hasn’t made the final results available to the public and has not acknowledged the existence of any problem.
When the random selection was first introduced, the intake form consisted of very basic questions: name, address and contact information. There was no screening process in place. After being criticized for this, the government added some financial questions to the form but, of course, this didn’t change anything. Many applicants continued to ignore the seriousness of eligibility requirements and would simply write whatever was needed to get in the lottery. I often hear that “the requirements are the last thing on our minds”. As a result, unqualified people gained easy access to the draw, taking a chance away from eligible families.
The public was also shocked to find out the way the lottery is conducted – through an Excel spreadsheet. According to experts, this process is unprotected, unreliable and may not give everybody the same chance.
All in all, the current lottery system leaves an uneasy feeling. The government keeps playing it cool, announcing that family reunification is their “top immigration priority”. Considering the arguments presented above, it looks like this is far from the truth. This change was implemented by the current majority party and we will have to wait and see how the 2019 election might affect this policy.
I believe that the random selection must be stopped as it’s ineffective and inhumane. The first-come-first-serve principle worked just fine in tandem with an intake cap. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
What is your take on the situation? Were you personally affected by the parents’ lottery results? What’s the solution in your opinion? Please comment below.
Next time: How to get an LMIA Work Permit?