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Online immigrant-sponsor application discriminatory, immigration lawyers say

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The new program for immigrants to sponsor their parents and grandparents is being labelled 'discriminatory'

The immigration program is under fire after all 27,000 spots filled up minutes after going up online

Ottawa says there were over 100,000 people competing for the 27,000 spots

OTTAWA – A new first-come-first-served online application for immigrants seeking to sponsor their parents and grandparents to come to Canada is being condemned as “profoundly discriminatory” after the program opened and closed in less than 10 minutes on Monday.

All 27,000 openings for the family-reunification program in 2019 were spoken for within minutes of the application form’s going live online Monday, sparking an outcry from disappointed would-be applicants.

Juan Zuno says his parents instilled in him a love of Canada from a young age. He completed his grad school in Vancouver and got his permanent residency last year.

Now, he wants to bring his folks from Mexico, but says despite having all the proper papers ready to go, he didn’t even get to the form page on the government’s website.

“I kept refreshing and refreshing, but for me, it turned from ‘it’s going to be available at noon on the 28th, to an ‘all the petitions have been filed,” Zuno adds.

Zuno took the day off work to be able to apply but he said it didn’t make any difference.

“It was really disappointing,” Zuno says. “The situation in Mexico is getting way too bad and it’s probably going to get worse.”

Matthew Genest, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, says an initial analysis shows no technical problems with the system.

He says anti-bot features were also used to ensure all applications were legitimate and not from automated computer programs grabbing spots faster than humans could.

Genest says with over 100,000 people competing for 27,000 spots, there was simply more demand than there were spaces.

But immigration lawyer Clifford McCarten is among many now raising concern about the fairness of access to the program, as only those with reliable Internet access, quick typing skills and good understanding of English or French would have had any hope of success.