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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.
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.

Read more: Canada eases coronavirus border restrictions for siblings, grandparents, permanent residents

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.

Click to play video 'Families desperate to reunite amid immigration sponsorship delays' Families desperate to reunite amid immigration sponsorship delays
Families desperate to reunite amid immigration sponsorship delays

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.