Ottawa woman hopes for family reunion as government drops immigration lottery

An Ottawa woman says she now feels there's a better chance she can reunite her family after a change in Canada's immigration rules.

Department will accept 20,000 parent and grandparent applications next year

Olena Stetskevych has been trying to bring her parents to Canada for years, but has had to contend with changing requirements for family reunification sponsorship. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

An Ottawa woman says she feels her family is now more likely to be reunited in Canada following a change in the process around sponsoring parents and grandparents to immigrate to Canada.

Olena Stetskevych, who immigrated from Ukraine in 2010, said she has been trying to bring her mother and father over for years and has been struggling with the changing rules around sponsorship.

When the government moved over to a lottery system for determining which applications would be processed last year, she said she felt disheartened she may never have the luck to bring her parents over.

"It has been a lot of tears. It has been a lot of emotions, frustration and the feeling of being desperate simply because there is nothing you can do — this is the worst," she said.

"Whatever you do there is no way."

She said she is relieved the government will return to processing applications based on when they receive them

"Of course there is still a component of uncertainty and, yes, I feel it," she said.

"However at least I can take some actions and minimize this risk of not being able to apply, versus a lottery."

Her 60-year-old mother and 55-year-old father, a retired firefighter, want to be close to Stetskevych and her husband as they raise their six-year-old son. 

"This is their only grandchild. They absolutely want to be with him, with me, with my family," she said.

Ottawa woman excited by immigration rule change

4 years ago
Duration 1:04
Olena Stetskevych, who immigrated from Ukraine in 2010, has been trying to bring her mother and father to Canada.

Like buying concert tickets

Ronalee Carey, an Ottawa-based immigration and refugee lawyer, said that bringing parents and grandparents to Canada is a common desire among her clients.

She said she sees little benefit in switching from back and forth between a lottery and first come, first served process.

"Either they don't win the lottery, previously, or now they won't get on their computers in time to get their submit applications," she said.

"There's always going to be more people who want to do this, who want to apply to this program than there are going to be spaces."

She said only the most savvy potential sponsors, with strong language skills and a knowledge of the rules, will be able to take advantage of the electronic queue. 

"No one ever thinks it's fair when they don't get tickets to a concert, it's going to be the same thing," she said.

She said the requirement that potential sponsors report three years of income that could be used to support their parents has been a more significant barrier for her clients than the application selection process.

Carey said the most important part of the federal government's announcement is that it's increasing the number of applications for parents and grandparents that it will accept to 20,000, up from 17,000 this year and 10,000 in 2016.