Canadians hoping to help their parents and grandparents immigrate to the country can apply for the family reunification lottery starting Tuesday (Oct. 13) morning.

Typically, the lottery program begins accepting applications in January but the federal government had hoped to revamp it following criticism of the first come, first serve system.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed attempts to rejig the system and Ottawa opened it up to 10,000 applicants Tuesday, down from 27,000 last year. The application portal will be open until 9 a.m. PT on Nov. 3.

To apply for the random lottery, sponsors must be at least 18 years old, live in Canada, be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or a person registered in Canada under the Canadian Indian Act. The potential sponsor must also prove, via tax documents, that their income is high enough to support their parents or grandparents for up to 20 years.

The income levels for the three years prior to applying range from $32,899 to sponsor two people to $69,935 to sponsor seven. Sponsors must provide for their family’s basic needs and ensure that the person being sponsored will make “every effort” to support themselves and their family members. Sponsors must also repay any provincial social assistance their sponsored family members get during the first 20 years.

A report released by the Association of Canadian Studies in August found that family reunification was the biggest priority for survey respondents. Of 1531 Canadian adults, 36 per cent believed family reunifications should be given priority, compared to 16 per cent for refugees, 12 per cent for temporary foreign workers, eight per cent for economic immigrants and seven per cent for international students.

For more information, visit the federal government website.

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