Canada’s first-come, first-served parents and grandparents sponsorship program went live online on January 28 at NOON Eastern Standard Time. Within minutes some 100,000 people had attempted to access and complete the expression of interest to sponsor form. IRCC’s target for parents and grandparents sponsorship to Canada in 2019 is 27,000. That target was hit within eleven minutes.
Once the target was reached, the IRCC expression of interest to sponsor form closed. IRCC tweeted that the applications received had met the annual limit and the form had been closed to new applicants, sparking a flood of protests on IRCC’s social media channels from frustrated would-be applicants who said they were either unable to access the form or were in the process of completing a form but could not because the intake ended. Many users said they had cleared their schedules and set up their computers to fill out the online form — only to find it shut down within minutes.
As a result some users say the new system is flawed and unfair. One frustrated user Naimul Khan wrote on Twitter: “This is not a concert ticket you are selling, this is about uniting families. The whole process is atrocious”.
Mathieu Genest, press secretary for Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, stated that “Initial analysis indicates that there were no technical issues when the form opened [Monday] and that we have received the maximum number of submissions for 2019,” Genest said in a statement to CIC News.
“We understand that those who were not able to make a submission are disappointed.”
Genest said IRCC did “extensive testing” to ensure the intake system could handle the expected volume. IRCC also took steps to ensure the first-in system “was fair and created safeguards to ensure the system is not abused,” Genest added, pointing to the implementation of anti-bot features to ensure that “submissions received were legitimate.”
Toronto immigration lawyer Aris Daghighian said his office is exploring what appear to be system glitches that prevented some computers, IP addresses and applicants from accessing the link and the form until it was too late — even when the applicants had attempted to load the form at the specified time and frequently refreshed the page.
“It was always going to be a race, but it seems like some just weren’t able to start the race,” he stated. Daghighian further said that if there’s evidence the process was proceduraly unfair, his clients could consider legal action against IRCC.
IRCC’s new online system was created to ensure the process for sponsoring parents and grandparents was fair and had safeguards to prevent abuse. It is a first-in, first-served approach that replaced the previous randomized invitations “lottery” process. See Canada will reopen Parents and Grandparents Program January 28.