Liberals relaunch immigration lottery despite problems last year

By Mia Clarke, Associate Editor

Toronto immigration lawyer Andrew Carvajal is hopeful that the relaunch of a problematic lottery system to reunite immigrant families will be more beneficial to his clients this time around.

Carvajal, a partner with Desloges Law Group, says last year’s draw was a frustrating experience for his law firm and his clients.

“We worked hard in previous years to have the application prepared before the beginning of the year and ready to be delivered first thing in the morning once the intake process opened. We had been successful in doing so every year. Last year, however, less than one-fifth of our clients received an invitation to apply.”

Carvajal tells he was also frustrated to only learn about the draw in mid-December.

“This meant that we were quite far into the process for a number of applications when we were advised of the draw. Now there’s a chance that those applications will never be filed. It was a waste of our time and our clients' money.”

Carvajal says his firm has since adjusted its approach and does very little “upfront” work — only enough to register the client for the draw — with applications only being completed after being invited to do so.

According to a CBC report, an online submission form is available for one month — until Feb. 1, 2018 — that would become entries to a draw where 10,000 winning applicants would be invited to apply to sponsor their parents or grandparents to come to Canada.

The lottery system replaced the former first-come, first-served process.

According to the CBC, “In hundreds of pages of correspondence that were released through Access to Information and provided to CBC News, potential sponsors expressed anger, heartbreak and disbelief with what they described as a rushed and deeply flawed program that came without public consultation.”

Carvajal says the first-come, first-served process also had problems.

“It was certainly a disadvantage for applicants from outside of town who faced the challenge of using a courier to deliver the application on the morning the registration opened, not earlier or later. There were also news reports about applicants bribing courier staff to have their application on top of the piles they delivered, which is outrageous,” says Carvajal.

He says there was a definite problem with last year’s screening system.

“People could enter the lottery system without being eligible to sponsor and there were no questions in the registration system that screened for — or educated people about — the requirements to sponsor a parent or grandparent. The registration system this year has made some progress in that regard.”

The CBC reports that this year’s version “includes additional questions after widespread criticism that some people picked in the 2017 pool did not meet financial requirements or other qualifications.”

Carvajal says “There is no system to give priority to applicants who are unsuccessful one year and could potentially keep registering every year and never be picked. This is truly unfair as they could potentially be limited from ever sponsoring their parents or grandparents if they are unlucky in the draw every year.”

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