IRCC will end Parents and Grandparents sponsorship lottery and increase application cap to 20,000 in 2019

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says it will scrap its controversial randomized selection process for its Parents and Grandparents Program in 2019 and revert to a first-come, first-served approach to inviting interested sponsors to apply.

The move was announced August 20 in a news release that also said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) will accept up to 20,000 new sponsorship applications next year through the Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP).

IRCC’s switch in 2017 to a randomized selection process for applications to the PGP was widely denounced as unjust despite the government’s claims it would make the system more fair and transparent.

At the time, the Government of Canada said a randomized approach would level the playing field and give everyone the same opportunity to be selected to sponsor their parents and/or grandparents.

At least one petition was created to oppose the lottery, which it said left family reunification to “chance.”

IRCC said these new changes to the PGP respond to user concerns.

“As a result of listening to stakeholders and closely examining the PGP Program, the government is making further changes to the application intake process that will streamline access to the program and improve client experience,” IRCC said.

Canada’s Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen, said the changes are evidence of the Government of Canada’s “commitment to helping families live, work and thrive together, in Canada.”

Reduced backlog allows for increased quota

IRCC said its inventory of PGP applications stood at 26,000 in June 2018, down from a peak of 167,000 in 2011, and this reduction has allowed the government to increase its intake quota to 20,000 in 2019.

This doubles IRCC’s original applications cap for 2018, which was set at 10,000 at the start of the year and was increased to 17,000 last month. To meet this increased 2018 quota, IRCC announced a second invitation round at the end of July and says those invited will have until October 5, 2018, to submit a complete application.

IRCC said those interested in sponsoring their parents and / or grandparents in the 2019 will have to complete an Interest to Sponsor form online at the beginning of the year. In 2018, they were accepted between January 2 and February 1.

David Cohen, senior partner at the Campbell Cohen Canadian immigration law firm in Montreal, said the increased cap is good news for interested sponsors, but it’s unclear if the reversion to a first-come, first-served selection approach will help correct concerns with the lottery system.

“The government should be commended for listening and taking action on what was a deeply unpopular approach to inviting potential sponsors to apply,” he said. “Whether this actually resolves those concerns is another matter, and we’ll just have to see how it plays out.”

If you receive or have received an invitation to apply to the Parents and Grandparents Program, you may email us at to learn about the next steps regarding your application.