Federal Liberal government criticized for online family reunification system

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  • On January 28, it took less than 11 minutes for people to snap up 27,000 online application spots for bringing parents or grandparents into Canada.

    On that day, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada opened up to applicants its online form for indicating interest in sponsoring a family member through the 2019 Parent and Grandparent Program.

    The annual limit was reached just more than 10 minutes later, and the government will not accept more applications.

    The situation was met by a flood of angry complaints from frustrated would-be applicants, many of whom said they had cleared their schedules and set up their computers to fill out the online form, according to a CBC report.

    CBC reported that some called for an independent audit of IRCC’s sponsorship process.

    IRCC moved to an online first-come, first-served system for the 2019 parent and grandparent sponsorship program.

    The Liberal government scrapped its controversial lottery system for reuniting immigrant families and adopted a first-come, first-served online system after an angry backlash from would-be sponsors.

    Under the family reunification program, about 20,500 parents and grandparents will be admitted to Canada in 2019, and 21,000 next year.

    According to CBC, this year, 27,000 were allowed to sign the “interest to sponsor” form online, accounting for duplication and errors. Eligible sponsors must provide proof of status and financial eligibility.

    The previous lottery process itself replaced another first-in system. That system was unpopular because it led to a “mad rush” every January, with people lining up at the doors of the processing centre overnight or paying place-holders in the queue to deliver applications prepared by consultants or lawyers.

    But the lottery system was also contentious, with critics calling it unjust because it was gambling with peoples’ lives, CBC reported.

    Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel said the process that many are panning as unfair is “consistent with a pattern of failures” by the Liberal government on immigration issues, including its handling of asylum seekers crossing into Canada from the U.S. outside official border points.

    She said the Liberals “abdicated responsibility” by instituting a lottery system, but the new process only gave people who were following the rules mere minutes to submit their forms.
    Parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents can also apply for a ‘super visa’, which allows them to extend a visit for up to two years after the initial entry into Canada.

    Rempel said: ““The Liberal government is sending a very disturbing message to Canadians and newcomers: play by the rules and expect long delays and backlogs – if your application gets accepted at all. Conversely, break the rules and enter the country illegally via Roxham Road and expect to wait 0 days to be given access to all Canada has to offer.

    “Trudeau has set up a permanent immigration stream at Roxham Road that has so far allowed 40,000 people to illegally enter the country from safe places like Upstate New York,” according to Rempel.

    NDP Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Critic Jenny Kwan said in a statement: ““As predicted, the Liberal government’s approach to family reunification for parent/grandparent sponsorship is a colossal failure. Just 11 minutes after the quota was opened, IRCC announced that the annual limit had been reached and the application process was closed. Frustrated family members are once again left out in the cold.”

    Kwan also said: “First it was the unjust luck of the lottery draw system; now families are being pitted against each other in break neck speed to get in front of the line just to be able to apply. The Liberal government has managed to dehumanize and devalue the important role parent/grandparent sponsorship can play for Canadian families and the Canadian economy. Treating families this way is more than an insult. “

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