Immigration Lawyers Question the Improvement of the New Parents and Grandparents Program
In 2017, the Federal Government introduced changes to its Parents and Grandparents Program. The goal of this sponsorship program is to reunite families, and eligible candidates can apply to sponsor their parents and grandparents, as the name states.
These changes were meant to make the selection system more efficient, but several immigration advocates, lawyers, and critics have argued that the system still needs work. In particular, the current lottery system has come under scrutiny with regards to fairness, since it chooses candidates at random, not by merit.
Too Much Like a Lottery?
Many critics argue this system relies too much on chance. Those who are qualified to sponsor their families may never get a chance to do so or may have to wait years for their names to get drawn.
Would-be-sponsors of parents and grandparents must first fill out an intent form. In 2017, a new section was added to this form that asked if applicants to the Parents and Grandparents sponsorship program met the program’s income requirements.
By responding yes, the form is entered into the lottery system. Applicants are then randomly selected and invited to apply to sponsor their family members.
Prior to 2017, this lottery system did not ask if applicants met income requirements. As a result, many draws were “wasted,” as the selected applicants weren’t eligible to apply, or were no longer interested.
Lottery vs. First Come, First Serve
Prior to these lottery systems, the family sponsorship program operated on a first-come-first-serve basis. While there are pros and cons to both systems, the first-come-first-serve system avoided all questions about qualification. To apply, the sponsors and applicants had to meet all qualifications at the outset.
The obvious issue with the lottery system is how easy it is to apply without meeting qualifications. That issue was the impetus behind the 2017 introduction of the intent form, but there is still much room for improvement.
Room for Improvement
The lack of merit-based decision making, or rather decision-making based on confirmed application data, continues to prevent the reunification of many families. Perhaps the biggest issue is that because this system is based on chance, there are no factors an applicant can directly address or appeal upon a rejection. They simply had bad luck, no matter how good their standing, and irrespective of potentially meeting all the requirements.