Advanced analytics to speed up processing of overseas family class spousal and partner applications

Ottawa, May 30, 2024—Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is improving processing for spousal and partner applications by expanding its use of advanced analytics and other automated technology to all spousal and partner applications under the family class. Two new tools will help process overseas family class spousal and partner applications to reunite families sooner.

Spousal and partner applications include two parts: the sponsorship part and the principal applicant part. Both must be reviewed before the applicant can be approved, and IRCC officers will continue to make the final decision on all family class applications. The tools never refuse or recommend refusing applications.

One of the new tools is for the sponsorship part of the application and the other is for the principal applicant part of the application. The tools use rules developed by IRCC officers and rules generated through machine learning based on data from previous IRCC files.

Reviewing the sponsorship

The sponsorship part of the application is assessed first to identify routine cases that can automatically be approved. All applications that don’t have the sponsorship part automatically approved by the sponsorship tool are sent to an officer for manual review. Automating routine approvals for sponsors allows officers to focus on other sponsorship cases so applicants can get their decisions sooner.

Reviewing the principal applicant

For the second part of the application, the principal applicant tool helps speed up IRCC’s work by identifying routine applications for streamlined processing. When it finds routine applications, it can decide that the principal applicant is eligible and send the file to an officer to decide if the applicant is admissible to Canada and make the final decision. Applications that don’t have principal applicant eligibility approved are sent for manual review by an officer.

IRCC is committed to responsibly developing and deploying data-driven technologies in line with privacy requirements and human rights protection. IRCC regularly reviews its tools to ensure that they work as intended and that results are consistent with applications that receive a full manual review. As part of this work, and building on Canada’s Treasury Board Directive on Automated Decision-Making, an algorithmic impact assessment (AIA) has been completed to assess the tool used to process overseas spousal and partner applications. The AIA categorized the impact level of the system as moderate, and numerous measures are in place to mitigate possible risks. These measures include a review for potential discriminatory impacts, a Gender-Based Analysis Plus and a quality assurance plan, as well as privacy and security elements built into the design of the tool. Officers will also be able to overturn the decision of the tool.

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