IRCC immigration and visa application AI screening

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been running an 'advanced data analytics' and artificial intelligence (AI) pilot since 2018 to process temporary resident visa (TRVs) applications submitted from China and India. 

The system was extended to TRV applications submitted from all countries outside Canada in January 2022.

Visa applications are assessed on the basis of eligibility and admissibility. For straightforward applications, eligibility is approved solely by the model, while eligibility for more complex applications is decided upon by an immigration officer. 

All applications are reviewed by an immigration officer.

Operator: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
Developer: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
Country: Canada
Sector: Govt - immigration
Purpose: Process temporary resident visa applications
Technology: Data analytics; Machine learning
Issue: Bias/discrimination - gender, race; Fairness; Privacy
Transparency: Governance; Black box; Marketing

Risks and harms 🛑

IRCC's immigration and visa application AI screening system has attracted concerns about its impact on human rights and its transparency.

Human rights concerns

Algorithmic impact assessment

Transparency 🙈

The IRCC's TRV application assessment system has been shrouded in secrecy since its inception. 

During the Citizen Lab report’s research phase, 27 distinct official information requests were submitted to the Government of Canada. Every one of them remained unanswered.

And while the publication of the IRCC's algorithmic impact assessment provided further information about the system, many questions were limited to 'yes' or 'no' answers.

News, commentary, analysis 🗞️