CIMM — Chinook Development and Implementation in Decision-Making – February 15 & 17, 2022
Chinook is a Microsoft Excel-based tool developed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for temporary resident application processing to increase efficiency and to improve client service by decreasing the impacts of system and broadband latency, thus improving processing times.
Chinook displays information stored in the Global Case Management System (GCMS), IRCC’s processing system and system of record, in a more user-friendly way, allowing for increased GCMS user productivity.
Chinook is a tool designed to simplify the visual representation of a client’s information. It does not utilize artificial intelligence (AI), nor advanced analytics for decision-making, and there are no built-in decision-making algorithms.
It is always an IRCC officer, not the Chinook tool, that makes the final decision on an application. Chinook does not assess or make decisions on applications. Officers continue to review all client-submitted information to ensure informed and fair decisions. The use of Chinook does not lead to a less thorough review of applications, nor does it change the way decisions are made, it simply offers a consolidated view in a more user-friendly way, instead of a multiple screen layout of the application’s information.
Chinook is not a mandatory tool for IRCC officers and does not fundamentally alter the decision-making process.
The Chinook tool was piloted in processing offices in 2018 and officially launched in 2019. It reduces the amount of time spent uploading and reviewing information on multiple screens in GCMS. This is especially important in countries where computer bandwidth is slow, which would otherwise slow down application processing.
Chinook is built in a modular way, allowing it to administratively support different steps in the process of assessing an application, depending on the module used. The various modules can assist IRCC with steps such as file management, indicator management, and pre- and post-decision management.
IRCC officers may use the Chinook tool for assessing temporary resident visa, study permit and work permit applications. In part, Chinook extracts temporary resident application information from the client’s submitted application in GCMS and presents it in a user-friendly fashion. This streamlines administrative steps that would otherwise be required if applications were processed directly within the GCMS environment.
The Immigration Refugee Protection Act and Regulations (IRPA/IRPR) are the basis for the decisions rendered by officers. Decisions are based on the officer review and made by the officer. Chinook does not change the way decisions are made; it is always an officer – not the Chinook spreadsheet – that makes final decisions and provides the rationale for them. Chinook supports decision-makers and IRCC staff and is not used to make or recommend decisions.
Chinook does not store any data or client information. This is a privacy-centric approach so that IRCC is not creating a new database of personal information. Officers must record all decisions in GCMS, which remains the system of record.
Chinook users within processing offices provide all necessary training and support related to Chinook, prior to other officers having access to the tool. Supplementary support is available through the use of standardized training materials, such as user manuals and recorded training videos.
In December 2020, performance of Chinook was measured through a sample study for overseas migration offices. The results determined there was an 18-30% gain in efficiency, decreasing the impacts of system and broadband latency and allowing for shorter review time per application hence increasing productivity.
Chinook is a tool designed to simplify the visual representation of a client’s information. It does not utilize artificial intelligence (AI), nor advanced analytics for decision-making, and there are no built in decision-making algorithms. IRCC’s advanced analytics and automation systems operate independently of Chinook, and they are reviewed routinely to ensure they are working as intended and align with the Government of Canada’s Directive on Automated Decision-Making.
In the Ocran test case chosen to address the issue of completeness of Certified Tribunal Records (CTR) in Chinook cases, the Court dismissed the application for judicial review on February 10, 2022. The Court did not rule on the CTR issue specifically, as it was not in direct dispute between the parties.
Importantly, visa refusal and approval rates will vary from year to year. It is up to the applicant to satisfy the IRCC officer that they meet the requirements for the visa or permit they seek. All applications are considered on a case-by-case basis, based on the specific facts presented by the applicant; Chinook does not fundamentally alter the decision-making process.
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