Weighted lottery as close as it gets to Goldilocks solution for sponsorship

  • September 11, 2019

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has been trying out a variety of processes to square an intractable circle: more applications for parent and grandparent sponsorship than can reasonably be processed with the Department’s resources. Each new process comes with its own particular set of unwanted side-effects. Too slow, too unpredictable, too unfair:

  • Processing applications for parent and grandparent sponsorship as they came in, and without quotas, led to ballooning wait times, delayed family reunification, inconveniences and dissatisfaction.
  • Opening the door to applicants for a limited time followed by a moratorium created uncertainty and dissatisfaction.
  • The Ticketmaster-like process, where applications were taken until a cap was reached, favoured sponsors with high-speed internet, good typing skills and access to computers over those with slower internet access and smartphones or tablets, and discriminated against those with mental or physical disabilities.

The CBA’s Immigration Law Section commends the IRCC for its goal of finding a transparent, fair and efficient intake process for parent and grandparent sponsorship expressions of interest, and for giving various options a try.

In a letter to the Immigration Minister the Section says of the methods tested, the lottery system is the best option.

“The lottery system was unpopular,” the Section says. “Nonetheless, it is the fairest and most efficient of the alternatives tried so far.”

The lottery should be weighted in favour of would-be sponsors who have submitted expressions of interest in the past, to weed out those who are less committed to the process and to improve the likelihood of success for those who consistently apply.

“IRCC should also consider requiring objective up-front proof that potential sponsors meet the financial requirements for sponsorship,” or at least informing applicants about what the financial eligibility requirements would be in their situation, in order to save the time and resources spent on applications that are later rejected because the financial requirements haven’t been met.

As well, holding lottery draws two or three times a year, instead of just once, would spread the work out more evenly for IRCC officers.

“We suggest the IRCC do more to manage the expectations of those thinking of immigrating to Canada,” the Section concludes. “It should be clearly communicated early in the application process that there is no right to sponsor parents or grandparents and there are limits on the number of parent and grandparent applications that will be processed and when these applications can be submitted.”