OTTAWA: The federal government has hit pause on a popular immigration program that allows people to sponsor their parents or grandparents to come to Canada.
The parents and grandparents program normally opens for applications in January, but won’t open as scheduled in 2020.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says the government needs time to develop a new intake process.
It’s the most recent attempt by the Liberal government to overhaul the widely popular program that allows for around 20,000 parents or grandparents to be admitted each year.
Applications used to be accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis in person, but that system was scrapped after people effectively bought their way to the front of the line by hiring couriers to ensure their forms were at the top of the pile.
The Liberals then moved to a lottery system, which was criticized for being too random, and then a first-come, first-serve online program that in 2019 saw all the spots snapped up within minutes.
The Liberal government promised after that to review the system, but appear unable to have found a solution in time for the normal January application period.
Instead, on Dec. 20, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino issued instructions to the department to postpone the acceptance of new applications.
A new program will be put in place sometime next year, according to Mendicino’s instructions, posted online.
“The Minister intends to issue further Instructions relating to the intake management process for the parents and grandparents program by April 1, 2020, at the latest.”
A public notice of the delay was issued by the Immigration Department on Monday.