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Report warns against using AI for processing Canada immigration applications

Report warns against using AI for processing Canada immigration applications

As the Canada government is considering of using Artificial Intelligence to process immigration applications, a study conducted by the University of Toronto has warned against its potential dangers. The report expressed concern over leaving decisions that directly affect the lives of immigrants and refugees to automated processes. The report also raised questions related to human rights, privacy and discrimination in concern with using artificial intelligence for processing Canada immigration applications.

Two pilot projects for sorting visitor visa applications from China and India using AI are already underway in Canada. These projects aim to help process routine applications more quickly. Canada is also considering the use of AI for processing refugee applications and for pre-removal risk assessments. IRCC officials have clarified that AI would be used only for sorting the Canada immigration applications and the mechanism would highlight complex cases for further attention, and the final decisions would be made by immigration officers.

Currently, Canada is receiving more than 20 million applications for visitor visa. Several factors are considered while taking a decision on these applications. The applicant’s intention to leave Canada as the visa validity expires, ties to the home country and the financial resources of the applicant are a few of these relevant factors. Currently, around 25% of visitor visa applications are rejected after the risk assessment, which is yet to be entrusted to AI.

Experts are of the opinion that over-reliance on AI in the immigration system of Canada will have undesirable results. In case, if an appeal is filed against the rejection of an application, the authorities will have to reveal the algorithms based on which the decision was made. If that happens, gaming the system right from the choice of a study course to the timing of submitting the application will become a common practice, which will destroy the fairness of the system.

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