Popular Canadian visa program for parents, grandparents reverting to lottery system

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino speaks during a press conference on COVID-19 in West Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Thursday, March 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

A popular immigration program that allows people to sponsor their parents or grandparents to come to Canada is reverting to a lottery system.

Federal Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced the relaunch of the parent and grandparent program today, saying it will open for applications on Oct. 13.

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It ordinarily opens in January but was delayed this year as officials sought to revamp the system after a first-come, first-served approach buckled under excessive demand last year.

A lottery system had been used before that but it led to widespread frustration that people’s efforts to bring their families to Canada were basically reduced to a game of chance.

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The launch of a new system for this year was further delayed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and a decision was made to revert to a lottery to get the program underway.

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The government says it will accept 10,000 applications this year but pledges to increase that to 30,000 next year.

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