Later this month, the federal government announced that Canada will be unveiling a new family immigration policy that is supposed to make it easier for families to reunite and come to Canada. Essentially, the policy will be a revamp of the Family Reunification Program, which allows both recent Canadian immigrants or citizens to sponsor their family members to come to Canada as well.
Under this program, Canadians have to apply to sponsor either their spouse, children, parent, or grandparent. Those who are sponsored would then be considered family class immigrants, rather than economic immigrants.
The program, however, has been pretty controversial for a while now. In 2016, the government introduced a new system for giving out family class visas, which is the lottery system we have today. This method basically allowed a number of applicants to apply online and they would be randomly selected to apply for visas.
This program received a lot of backlash, especially from those trying to apply, who said it was unfair to families. The selection process, which is essentially a completely random lottery, turned people's immigration chances into the luck of the draw.
The lottery system was meant to be a solution, though. In 2016, it was introduced as a way to get rid of another controversial system for the family visas which was the first-come-first-serve method. Now, two years later that same system is the one we are going back to.
The new system launching this month is meant to be an improved version of the system which was originally scrapped two years ago. With the new changes, the lottery system is gone completely and family visas will be determined based on quota, also known as first come first serve.
Back in 2016, this same system was deemed controversial after a report revealed it essentially put a price tag on immigration. Since the application forms, which had to be hand delivered, were first come first served courier companies that were charging hundreds of dollars to drop applications off when the lines first opened.
As a result, people were claiming that the system allowed only those who could afford the high courier fees or to camp outside the Mississauga office, the only place in the entire country where applications were accepted, would have any chance of being selected.
Now, that same controversial system is back but it's expected to have some major improvements. First and foremost, the number of applications has been increased to 20,500 which is up from the previous 17,000. This will give more people the chance to apply for sponsorship.
Less is known about other changes so far, but it could have a major impact on immigration. For example, when the lottery was introduced it also implemented an online form system that removed the whole courier controversy. It is unclear so far whether the online form will still be used in the new system.
Regardless of the systems used to determine who gets accepted, there are some other problems with the Family Reunification Program in general. In 2014, the government conducted an evaluation of the program and found some concerns.
First, they noticed that the parents and grandparents who come over through this program reported the lowest income of any immigrants to Canada and were more dependent on social assistance. This could be concerning since the new program this month is aimed at that demographic.
Other concerns highlighted in the evaluation report were that the Canadian Immigration Centres who handle the applications in this program weren't always fully trained or equipped which may have contributed to the ridiculously long backlogs. Now over almost 5 years later, it is yet to be determined if these problems will be fixed by the new system.
On social media recently, Canada's Department of Immigration and Citizenship confirmed that the applications under the new system for family visas would be open later this month. While they didn't confirm the date, they did advise those wishing to apply to sponsor a relative that everyone would be given plenty of advanced notice of the deadlines.