Today at noon, the "interest to sponsor form" for the 2019 Parent and Grandparent Program was scheduled to open to immigrants looking to assist their relatives with a move to Canada. But now hundreds of applicants are taking to social media to accuse the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship (CIC) service of failing to make the form available at all.
TL;DR The Parents and Grandparents sponsorship application crashed within just minutes of opening and applicants have taken to social media to call out the Canadian Immigration and Citizenship service.
The program, according to the CIC website, is for "Canadian citizens [or] permanent residents living in Canada who want to sponsor [parents or grandparents] living abroad."
Within just minutes of the program opening, however, the CIC announced on its social media pages that the application was closed.
As of 14:45, however, the CIC website still promises that the application is forthcoming.
Angry applicants used the comments section on the CIC Facebook post to call out the service for what they call process marred with technical difficulties. Many claim that the sponsorship interest form was never posted to the CIC website.
Asif Khan, who reached out to MTLBlog to offer his perspective on the application process, says that he was poised in front of his computer as early as 11:30am only to find out at 12:05pm that the application was closed, just five minutes after it was supposed to open.
He states that the application never became available on the CIC website, despite his repeated attempts to refresh the page. Now, Khan will have to wait another year to reapply through the Parents and Grandparents Sponsorship Program.
Nabila Oubouchou was also ready to begin the application well before noon, but was unable to access it before a message appeared telling her it has closed. She, too, continuously refreshed the page to no avail.
Oubouchou blames the government for what she called a confusing process. It is up to the CIC, she asserts, to provide clear instructions and ensure their site can handle demand. Anecdotally, she says she has not heard of any applicant in Quebec that was actually able to view the application before it closed.
For many, this incident has become an emotional end to a long process. Paola Escobar tells MTLBlog that "this is [her] 4th year trying to sponsor [her] parents and grandmother."
"Just until last year it was a raffle but this year was just a scam I was in front of the computer 15 min before 12 until 12:09 refreshing the page and nothing happened no forms nothing and 12:10pm there was an announcement that they reached the number of applications I couldn't do anything but cry of anger."
A petition has already appeared on Change.org calling on the CIC to cancel this round of applications and reopen the program at a later date this year. The petition already has almost 1,500 signatures.
Mathieu Genest, press secretary for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, has attempted to defend the current sponsorship program, which replaced a random lottery, by explaining that the current government "inherited a backlog of over 167,000 cases under the previous government."
"It is important to note," he continues, "that the Department did extensive testing to ensure systems were able to handle the volume. In addition, IRCC also implemented anti-bot features in order to ensure that submissions received were legitimate."
He claims that the CIC detected no technical issues related to the application. Genest also encourages applicants' parents and grandparents "to apply for a super visa to stay in Canada for up to 2 years at a time."
This official statement, however, does not explain why some applicants were unable to view the application at all.
We have reached out to the CIC for more information.