Let’s look at how Canada is experimenting with automation to address the backlog of PGWP and work permit extension applications.
The pilot project launched by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) combines automated tools with human review to process some applications faster.
Due to a significant increase in the number of work permit extension and post-graduation work permit (PGWP) applications, Canada is trying a new approach. The IRCC is using automation technologies to assist immigration officers in processing some applications more quickly.
How Automation Works for PGWP and Work Permit Extensions
The pilot project, which started in September 2023 and will end in March 2024, aims to speed up the processing of some work permit extensions and PGWP applications.
Automated Assistance: The automated tools help sort, assign, and screen applications.
Selective Processing: The automated tools identify standard applications for faster processing while immigration officers handle complex or non-routine cases.
What IRCC Says About Automation
IRCC explains that automation is not a replacement for human decision-making but a support tool that enhances efficiency and quality:
Effective Allocation: By using automation for administrative tasks, immigration officers can focus on evaluating applications and making final decisions.
Strategic Categorization: Applications are sorted according to IRCC’s criteria, ensuring they are assigned to the appropriate officers with the relevant knowledge and expertise.
Automation Challenges and Risks
While automation has some advantages, it also poses some challenges and risks:
Bias Potential: There is a possibility of bias in automated decisions if the rules or the tool’s programming need to be revised or revised.
Error Margin: Errors, though rare, can occur. This requires human monitoring and verification of the automated outcomes.
The IRCC follows ethical guidelines and standards for using automation to address these issues, based on the Canada Treasury Board Directive on Automated Decision-Making.
The IRCC also conducts an algorithmic impact assessment (AIA) to evaluate the impact of the automated system on privacy and human rights. The AIA rates the system as moderate, with safeguards such as bias assessments, privacy features, and officer discretion to override automated results.
By testing automation for PGWP and work permit extension processing, Canada hopes to improve the applicant experience and reduce the backlog.
However, this is not a permanent or universal solution but a pilot project to inform future decisions on the best use of automation for immigration purposes.
Automation also has some limitations and challenges that must be considered and addressed. Therefore, it is essential to have a balanced and critical perspective on the role and impact of automation on immigration decisions.