Home » Canada is refusing more study permits. Is new AI technology to blame?

Canada is refusing more study permits. Is new AI technology to blame?

Canada is refusing more study permits. Is new AI technology to blame?

Soheil Moghadam applied twice for a study permit for a postgraduate program in Canada, only to be refused with an explanation that read like a templated answer.

The immigration officer was “not satisfied that you will leave Canada at the end of your stay,” he was told.

Soheil Moghadam applied twice for a study permit for a postgraduate program in Canada, only to be refused with an explanation that read like a templated answer.

The immigration officer was “not satisfied that you will leave Canada at the end of your stay,” he was told.

After a third unsuccessful attempt, Moghadam, who already has a master’s degree in electronics engineering from Iran, challenged the refusal in court and the matter was settled. He is now studying energy management at the New York Institute of Technology in Vancouver.
His Canadian lawyer, Zeinab Ziyi, said that over the years, he has seen an increasing number of people being denied study permits, like Moghadam. Internal notes made by officials reveal only general analysis based on cookie-cutter language and often have nothing to do with specific evidence presented by the applicant.
“We’re seeing a lot of people who may have been accepted before or in fact what we consider to be full files with lots of evidence of financial support, a lot of ties to their home country. Files like this, just being denied,” said Ziyi, who said he has seen more than 100 of these denials in his practice over the past two years.
“We’re challenging these cases in court and the authorities are starting to see a lot of internal notes, notes, and they all look more alike than ever.”
Now, she believes she knows why.
During the summer, Ziyi and other immigration lawyers learned for the first time about a new software system that has been used by Canadian immigration officials to process visitor visas, work permits and study permits since March 2018.
It is a Microsoft Excel-based system called Chinook.
Its existence came to the fore during a court case involving Abigail Okran, a Ghanaian woman who was denied a study permit by the Department of Immigration.
Public prosecutors in that case filed an affidavit by Andy Daponte, director of international-network adaptation and modernization, which detailed the Chinook’s functioning and application.
That affidavit has sparked a buzz among immigration law practitioners, who see the new system – the department’s transition to artificial intelligence – as a potential threat to quality decision-making, and the more troubling AI. Its arrival as a harbinger of technology that could replace immigration is the way decisions are made in this country.
All eyes are now on the pending decision of the Okran case to see if and how the court will weigh in on the use of Chinooks. Chinook was implemented in March 2018 to help the immigration department handle the exponential growth in cases for its existing and outdated Global Case Management System (GCMS).
Between 2011 and 2019, the number of visitor visa applications grew by 109 percent, with caseloads of applications for foreign work permits and study permits increasing by 147 percent and 222 percent, respectively, before everything slowed down during the pandemic .
In 2019 alone, Daponte said in his affidavit, Canada received approximately 2.2 million applications from potential visitors, in addition to 366,000 applications from those wishing to work here and 431,500 from international students.
Meanwhile, the department’s 17-year-old GCMS system, which requires officials to open multiple screens to download various information related to an application, has not caught on. Every time decision makers go from screen to screen, they must wait for the system to load, causing significant delays in processing, especially in countries with limited network bandwidth.
The Chinook was developed internally and implemented “to increase efficiency and stability, and to reduce processing time,” Daponte said.
As a result, he said, migration offices have typically seen a five per cent to 35 per cent increase in the number of applications they are able to process.
Here’s how Chinook works: An applicant’s information is extracted from the old system and filled into a spreadsheet, with each cell on a single row filled with data from that one applicant — such as the name. , age, purpose of travel, date of receipt of application and previous travel history.
Each spreadsheet contains the content of multiple applicants and is assigned to an officer to enable them to use “batch processes”.
Once an application is evaluated, the officer will prompt a pop-up window to record the decision by clicking on the decision column as well as a note generator if they are giving reasons in case of denial.
(An officer may reject or approve an application, and sometimes withhold it for further information.)
When done, decision makers click on a button labeled “action list,” which organizes data for ease of transfer to older systems. This decision, the reasons for refusing to apply, and introduces no “risk indicators” or “local term flags” for each application.
Spreadsheets are deleted daily after data transfer for privacy concerns.
Working on the spreadsheet, Daponte said, decision-makers continue to have access to paper applications or electronic documents and GCMS when needed.
“Chinook was created to save decision-makers’ time in querying GCMS for application information and to allow for the review of multiple applications,” Daponte said.
However, critics are concerned that the way the system is set up may guide officials toward certain conclusions, giving them the option of not reviewing all of the material presented in each case, and that this may be an actual issue. Effectively shields most decision making from investigation. ,
According to Daponte’s court affidavit, the note generator presents standard language that immigration officials can select, review and modify to fit the circumstances of the application in formulating reasons for denial. The task is to “help them in the making of causes”.
Ziyi believes that she explains the temporary reasons for the refusal that she is seeing.
“These officers are looking at spreadsheets of potentially 100 different applicants. And those names don’t mean anything to the officers. You can mix up the lines. You can easily make mistakes,” said the Toronto attorney. .
“There is no way to go back and investigate this because these decisions end up with very similar notes that arise exactly when they are rejected. So my concern is about accountability. Whenever our When they have a decision, it has to be understood. We don’t know if they make a mistake.”
That’s why he and other lawyers worry that the growth of study permits is tied to the implementation of the Chinook.
In fact, this question was posed to Daponte during his cross-examination in the Okran case by the Ghanaian student’s lawyer, Edos Omoroshanmwan.
Immigration data obtained by Omoroshan Mwan shows that the rejection rate of student permit applications increased from 31 percent in 2016 to 34 percent in 2018, the year the Chinook was launched. This trend continued at 40 percent in 2019 and reached 53 per cent last year.
“Is there a system within Chinook Software that requires some inspection work where someone else is there to review what a visa officer has come up with before the decision is handed over to applicants?” asked Omoroshanamwan.
“Within Chinook, no,” replied Daponte, who also said that there is no mechanism within the platform to track whether an official has searched for all supporting documents and information related to an applicant’s file in GCMS data is reviewed.
“This idea of ​​using portals and technology to accelerate the way things are done is a reality of the future,” said Vancouver-based immigration attorney Will Tao.
“My concern as a lawyer is this: who has negatively impacted this reality and what systems does it perpetuate?”
Tao said the way the row of personal information is selected and set up in a Chinook spreadsheet “discourages” officials to go into the actual application material and backing documents out of facility.
“And then the authorities should use those note generators to justify their argument and not go into some details that you want to reflect that they have actually reviewed the facts of the case. The biggest problem I have is that there is very limited monitoring of this system,” he said.
“It makes it easier to refuse because you don’t have to look at all the facts. You don’t need to go through a deep, thoughtful analysis. You have a refusal note generator that you can apply without reading detailed study plans and financial documents.”
He points to Chinook’s built-in function that flags “risk factors”—such as an applicant’s occupation and intended employer information—for inconsistency in an application, as well as “local flag words” for triage and for attending a wedding or funeral to ensure priority processing of time-sensitive applications.
Tao said the same flag words used in the spreadsheet could also be misused to mark a particular group of applicants based on their individual profiles and choose to decline.
In 2019, in a case involving the revoking the citizenship of the Canadian-born sons of two Russian Canadian spies, the Supreme Court of Canada granted a historical judgment which helps judges review the decisions of immigration officials.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that it would be “inadmissible for an administrative decision maker to provide an affected party with formal reasons that fail to justify its decision, but still expect that its The decision will be upheld on the basis of internal records which were not available to that party.”
Tao said he is watching closely how Okran’s decision on Chinook’s application is going to shed light in the wake of the Canadian Supreme Court ruling on the rationality standard.
“Obviously, there are important points in a lot of these applications that they find …
https://granthshala.com/canada-is-refusing-more-study-permits-is-new-ai-technology-to-blame/

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