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On December 14th 2017, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced significant changes to the process of submitting an application to sponsor a parent or grandparent. Previously, applicants rushed to submit their applications by courier on the day the program opened. The first 10,000 applications received were accepted for processing. Under the changes announced today, the program will operate on a lottery basis rather than a first come first serve basis. Starting January 3rd 2017, applicants will fill out an online form indicating interest in the program. Applicants will have 30 days to complete and submit the online form. IRCC will then randomly select 10,000 applicants who have completed the online expression of interest, and invite them to submit an application to the program.

The parental sponsorship program is a very popular program, receiving a high volume of applications each year.  Changing the process from a first come first serve system to a lottery will ensure that applicants who are not able to courier their application on the first day the program opens will still have a chance to apply. However, these changes will also create greater uncertainty as applicants no longer have any way to guarantee that their application will be selected. Applicants not selected in 2017 are advised by IRCC wait until the 2018 program opens and submit a new expression of interest, at which point they will again be subject to the lottery system.

Applicants not invited to apply for parental sponsorship in 2017 should be aware that there may be other options available to bring their parent or grandparent to Canada on a temporary basis, such as the parent or grandparent super visa program.