Concerns that first spots in parent sponsorship program go to those who can pay
Ottawa: People seeking to bring parents and grandparents to Canada this year were anxiously checking their credit card statements Tuesday to see if their sponsorship applications made the cut after some paid hundreds of dollars to ensure their files were at the top of the pile. The first-come, first-serve federal immigration program saw delivery services reportedly charging as much as $400, and many camped out overnight to be close to the front of the line, a system some people say is unfair and will likely get worse next year unless planned changes to the program address the problem. Word spread quickly online Tuesday about which companies apparently made good on their delivery guarantees as people began to notice the Immigration Department processing their application fees, a sign that their file was one of the 5,000 applications the government will accept this year. By midday Tuesday, Uzair Khan’s card hadn’t been charged. His family is seeking to sponsor their 83-year-old grandmother from Pakistan and he’d spent days trying to figure out which company to use to deliver the application. Word-ofmouth suggested major companies weren’t as nimble as smaller ones, but on the other hand, he was wary of those too. One asked for $200, he said. Several charged different rates based on delivery times. Khan eventually opted for a firm that wanted $80, still steep, but he said he was left no choice, given the requirement that files only be delivered by mail. “They are charging based on your emotions,’’ Khan said. Khan’s family put in an application six years ago to sponsor his father-in-law from Pakistan. At the time, the system had no caps and a rolling application process. The resulting backlog was so massive, Khan’s father-in-law is only arriving next month.