Liberals scrap parent visa application process over concerns people pay for spots at the front of the line

Market responds and government reacts:

Coveted spots for the parent and grandparent visa program will be awarded by lottery in 2017 after the federal Liberals have scrapped the old first-come, first-serve system that had raised concerns over people paying to be at the front of that line.

Applications for the always over-subscribed program had been accepted only via courier or mail at a single immigration office and since they were processed in the order received, couriers had been doing brisk business promising to be at the front of the line, in exchange for fees that could be as high as $400.

But that system has now been replaced by a random draw, the federal immigration minister announced Wednesday.

“We’re ensuring everyone can access the application process by giving them the same chance to have their name chosen,” Immigration Minister John McCallum said in a statement.

Beginning Jan. 3, Canadians will have 30 days to fill out an online form indicating their desire to sponsor a parent or grandparent. From those, immigration officials will randomly draw 10,000 individuals who will then be asked to submit the full application within 90 days.

The change comes after The Canadian Press first reported earlier this year that the previous first-come, first-serve process was seeing couriers charge more than $400 to guarantee applications would be at the top of the pile for the spots available in 2016.

That raised concerns that the visas were going to those who could afford to pay the high fees or camp out for hours at the Mississauga, Ont., immigration office.

A lot of people had been rejected in the past and were looking forward to this year

High demand came in part from the fact the previous Conservative government closed the program entirely between 2011 and 2014 to bring down a massive backlog.

It re-opened in 2014 with an annual cap of 5,000 applications. Last year, 14,000 applications were received and the Liberals later raised the cap on the number of applications they would accept to 10,000.

Couriers had already started taking reservations to deliver 2017 applications, with fees ranging from $60 to $200, depending on whether someone wanted to guarantee their application was delivered first.

Source: Liberals scrap parent visa application process over concerns people pay for spots at the front of the line | National Post

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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