Online applications to sponsor family immigrants hit limit in just 11 minutes

It took just minutes today for Canadians to snap up 27,000 online application spots for bringing parents or grandparents into the country — fuelling frustration and fury among people who say the new system is flawed.

At noon ET today, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada opened up to applicants its online form for indicating interest in sponsoring a family member through the 2019 Parent and Grandparent Program.

Just eleven minutes later, the department tweeted that the applications received had met the annual limit and the form had been closed to new applicants.

A flood of angry complaints followed from frustrated would-be applicants, many of whom said they had cleared their schedules and set up their computers to fill out the online form — only to find it shut down within minutes.

“This is not a concert ticket you are selling, this is about uniting families. The whole process is atrocious,” wrote Naimul Khan on Twitter.

Some called for an independent audit of IRCC’s sponsorship process.

Cayo Whyte of Peterborough, Ont. took the day off work to fill out the form to sponsor his mother from Jamaica. He managed to get on the website and load the form — but by the time he completed it, the application window had closed.

“I feel so disappointed, so heartbroken, so stressed out. The words aren’t there to describe how disappointed I feel,” he told CBC News.

Whyte, who has been in Canada since 2009, said he has worked hard to advance his education and get a well-paid job.

“I am doing everything by the book but I cannot seem to make any headway in supporting my family in coming here,” he said.

Whyte said the first-in process is particularly unfair to him because he took a bit longer — about three minutes — to fill out the form because he has a disability. His past attempts to sponsor his mom through the former lottery system were also unsuccessful.

The Liberal government scrapped its controversial lottery system for reuniting immigrant families and adopted a first-come, first-served online system after an angry backlash from would-be sponsors.

Under the family reunification program, about 20,500 parents and grandparents will be admitted to Canada in 2019, and 21,000 next year.

This year, 27,000 were allowed to sign the “interest to sponsor” form online, accounting for duplication and errors. Eligible sponsors must provide proof of status and financial eligibility.

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