Chinook – How is it Affecting Your Canada Immigration Process.
The number of applications issued by IRCC has increased from 1 million in 2011 to 2 million in 2020; dealing with such a caseload stresses officials at IRCC, and due to this, they have also encountered a high refusal rate of 54% in the year 2022.
Due to many qualified students receiving refusals, they intent to seek recourse in federal Court for unreasonable refusal for their application, this led IRCC to disclose the never-before-introduced tool used for processing applications named “Chinook”
What is Chinook?
Chinook is an Excel-based tool and not an AI (“big debates around Chinook is whether it is Artificial Intelligence!), in-house by IRCC to allow visa officers to review bulk applications, Chinook scans your application, looks for the keyword and gives red flag to certain keywords which may have result into refusal.
Even when you apply for a multiple-page explanation letter that states the intention of your visit or your statement of purpose (SOP) for a study visa, these applications are scanned through a system that makes the work of an Immigration officer much easier.
But the more we learn on how this efficiency-enhancing tool operates, the more we are concerned about the effect on its results. This question arises because the spreadsheet created by Visa officers allows them to review up to 1000 applications at the same time, and the visa officers could make notes as they review files simultaneously. There are chances that their notes may not be transferred back to GCSM system as the excel sheets will be deleted at the end of the session, which means you will not be able to know or refer the specific pointer jotted at the time of the assessment/review was made which might have been the actual reason for the Refusal.
IRCC is being challenged with a backlog that stands at 1.8 million applications as of February 1 and increased its target to 432,000 immigrants. Therefore, preparing a strong application will put you ahead in the game and will prevent your application from being reviewed. Due to this officer will think twice before refusing an application as they will be prepared thoroughly.
Automated processing of some categories of applications is not new. The Triaged model automatically approved low-risk online temporary resident visa applications. Visa applications were sorted into tiers – the lowest risk for auto-approval and medium-high risk for officer review. This triage model was deployed for all applications from China in 2018, and in the same year was piloted in India. The goal is for artificial intelligence to automatically approve low-risk applications, with officers only manually assessing those that have been flagged as a medium to high risk.
The concern for applicants and their counsel is for IRCC to develop a tool that allows the decision-maker to make a reasonable decision.
The Supreme Court in Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has asked at minimum that such tools must have the following characteristics –
- Oversight and checks built into the system to prevent errors.
- Necessary time and resources/training to review the application and decide on the evidence they get.
- Clear and accessible guidance on parameters for decision-making so that applicants are aware of the test to be made when submitting the application.
IRCC should be commended for attempting to develop tools to assist in the processing of applications. However, processing tools should be developed with input from key stakeholders and the goals of fairness.
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