Is IRCC using AI to process immigration applications?

IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) is one of the many organizations that have started using AI (Artificial Intelligence) to assist in their decision-making processes.

AI is used by IRCC to automate certain tasks and improve the efficiency of the immigration process. For example, AI can scan and categorize documents, identify missing information, and flag potential issues for further review by human officers. AI can also be used to identify patterns and trends in data, which can help officers make more informed decisions. Let’s take a look deeper at some of these concerns:

  • Bias: One of the biggest concerns raised by some experts with the use of AI in decision-making is the potential for bias. For example, if an algorithm is trained on data that reflects certain biases or stereotypes, it may produce results that perpetuate those biases. This is a particular concern in immigration and refugee decision-making, where there is already a risk of unconscious bias and discrimination.
  • Automation: While AI can improve the efficiency of decision-making, there is a risk that the human element of decision-making will be lost. Relying too heavily on automation could result in important factors being overlooked, and could reduce the ability of decision-makers to exercise discretion and judgment.
  • Limited discretion: AI algorithms rely on rules and predetermined criteria to make decisions. This can result in a lack of discretion, which may not account for unique or extenuating circumstances that could impact an applicant’s case.
  • Technical errors: AI algorithms can make mistakes, particularly if the data used to train them is incomplete or inaccurate. Technical errors in the AI decision-making process could result in unfair or incorrect decisions being made.


While there is insufficient evidence to suggest that the use of AI by IRCC could result in an increase in the refusal rate of temporary resident applications, many experts believe that it would. According to a report published by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) in 2019, the overall refusal rate for study permit applications increased from 26.6% in 2015 to 39.5% in 2018.

The CBIE report suggests that this increase in refusal rates may be due to a number of factors, including changes in immigration policies and procedures, as well as the use of new technologies such as AI. However, it’s important to note that there may be other factors that could also contribute to the increase in refusal rates, such as changes in the global economic and political environment, as well as the quality of the applications themselves.

To address these concerns, IRCC has taken steps to ensure that its use of AI is fair and transparent. For example, it has developed a framework for ethical AI use that includes principles such as fairness, transparency, and accountability. It has also established an AI Oversight and Accountability Council to provide advice and guidance on the ethical use of AI in the immigration process.

Overall, the use of AI technology by IRCC is intended to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the immigration process, but it’s important to ensure that it is used in a way that is fair and transparent and that it does not contribute to unjust or discriminatory decision-making.

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