The federal government has opened a parent and grandparent lottery on October 13, 2020 at noon. The program will last till November 3 this year.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made immigration, and more specifically family reunification, a major plank in the last two elections. However, the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian shores meant the program’s original 2020 debut had to be halted in March. “Given the present circumstances, however, we are prioritizing our efforts to contribute to the whole-of-government response to the pandemic,” read a statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) back in the spring.
This delay, combined with the closure of the border with the United States, meant many families, regardless of immigration status, were in limbo. The opening of the October 13 lottery means those hoping to bring their family members here will have a release valve for their anxiety. “Our government strongly believes in the importance of keeping families together—particularly during difficult times,” Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino said in an October 5 statement.
Only 10,000 spots offered this year
The IRCC will randomly select potential sponsors to submit applications. Those people will have 60 days to submit their application for 10,000 spots. Normally, the lottery holds 20,000 spots but that number had to be decreased due to COVID-19. The IRCC is hoping that number will increase to 30,000 by the program’s reopening in 2021. Income requirements have been changed since the March delay, as well. The government is introducing a temporary policy where sponsors are exempt from certain income minimums for the 2020 tax year. The IRCC will be waiving the plus 30 percent requirement on top of the minimum income they need to sponsor family members. They will only be required to prove the minimum income as prescribed by the ministry.
Hiccups in the program are nothing new to the Parents and Grandparents program. In 2019, the government opened a much anticipated first-come, first-serve online application process. The site stopped accepting applications within 10 minutes of opening, leading many potential sponsors to feel frustrated. The first-come, first-serve nature of the online application was controversial. It made many feel that the application favoured those with faster internet connections. The current lottery system is, according to Mendicino, meant to make “the intake process more fair, and steadily increasing the number of families who will be able to reunite.”
Canada, Australia and the UK allow citizens to sponsor grandparents to come to their countries. The United States policy differs from that of Canada, Australia and the UK in that the authorities do not allow grandparents, but allow parents as long as the sponsor is at least 21 years old.
Mansoor Tanweer is New Canadian Media’s Local Journalism Initiative reporter on immigration policy. An immigrant himself, he has covered municipal affairs and the Brampton City Council in addition to issues relating to newcomers over several years.