Just 11 minutes after the federal government opened up Monday’s online application process for Canadians to bring parents and grandparents to the country, the maximum number of application forms had been received, prompting Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to shut down the process, and generating frustrated comments from Twitter users.
“Terrible! I had 4 different computers available for this,” tweeted someone with the Twitter handle @Patricia_J. “By the time I submitted the application it said that the form it was closed!! Wow as a public figure in this country I am going to ask for answers for all the thousands of people that they never got a chance to even apply!”
Another Twitter user likened the process to a dystopian movie series.
“THREE YEARS. We’ve been trying to apply for three years,” tweeted someone with the handle SergeyK1972. “Every time IRCC makes it more and more humiliating. This ‘Hunger games’ looks likes the government waits until our parents die lonely and abandoned.”
Another Twitter user described the application process as being “very flawed.”
“There needs to be an independent audit of IRCC’s PGP sponsorship process,” tweeted someone with the Twitter handle @Hezeb. “What happened today was a joke at best.”
IRCC said it was making application forms available for those wanting to express interest in the 2019 Parent and Grandparent Program at 10 a.m. ET. At 10:11 a.m. ET, the government department tweeted it had closed the process for applying.
A couple of hours later, IRCC tweeted that if it didn’t receive 20,000 complete applications, it would send out more invitations.
“The people invited would then have 60 days from the date of their invitation to submit a complete application,” IRCC tweeted.
Other Twitter users took to social media to say they experienced a variety of technical problems with the application process.
Ahmed Hussen, the minister responsible for IRCC, took to Twitter to respond to the outrage. In a lengthy thread, Hussen said the Liberal government is “committed to family reunification” and increased the number of PGP applications allowed from 5,000 under the previous government to 20,000.
“Conservatives created a backlog of 167,000+ cases, grew average wait times to 7 years, and then shut down the program for years,” Hussen tweeted. “We reduced the backlog by 85% & cut the wait time to under 24 months.
“After hearing directly from Canadians, we implemented a 1st come 1st serve online system to ensure it was fair, & created safeguards against abuse.”
Hussen said an initial analysis of Monday’s process revealed there were no technical issues, however, he acknowledged the process was one many Canadians were trying to apply for.
“More than 100,000 individuals attempted to access the interest to sponsor form,” he tweeted. “We remain committed to reuniting families with their loved ones and will continue to ensure client service remains at the centre of all our programs.”
“For those who were unsuccessful in their application, your parents and grandparents can apply for a Super Visa to stay in Canada for up to 2 years at a time.”
Rahul Joshi lives in Edmonton. He told Global News on Tuesday that he wants to bring his 80-year-old mother to Canada from India and has been trying to do so for years.
Joshi said he lined up at an immigration consultant’s office late Sunday afternoon so he could ensure a spot near the front of the line when he submitted his mother’s application on Monday.
He said he was eleventh in line but he was already too late by the time his turn came to apply.
“I cried a lot,” Joshi said of what happened when he told his mother the bad news.
“I said to my mom, ‘Mom, I tried. I tried very hard. I was up all night just to get my foot into that door and I’m sorry I couldn’t do it.’ And my mom said, ‘Don’t worry son. You tried. Next year we’ll see.'”
Joshi said his wife is set to move to Canada this year, which means his mother could potentially be left on her own in India, without close family there.
He said the prospect of his mother not coming has him considering whether he should move back to India.
“As an East Indian, we live with our parents,” he said. “I want my mom to be here but it’s getting tougher and tougher for me.”
Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of issues related to migrants.
Michelle Rempel, the Conservative Party’s shadow minister for IRCC, issued a statement in which she blasted the Liberals’ handling of the applications on Monday.
“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,” she wrote. “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.
Listen below: On Jan. 30, 2019, Global News Radio’s Kelly Cutrara spoke with immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann about the new system for applying to bring parents and grandparents to Canada and how his clients were affected.
Immigration lawyer Nathan Po said he believes the government’s new system for accepting applications is unfair.
“I’m concerned about people who might not have English as their first language, how quickly they could fill this form out,” he said.
“If you don’t have great computer skills, if you don’t have the fastest computer, the best network speeds — how that might affect your ability to fill this out.”