Federal Court of Canada Ruling on The Use Of Decision-Making Tools by IRCC

The Use Of Decision-Making Tools by IRCC

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When it comes to immigration applications, the process can be complex and time-consuming. To streamline this journey, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has adopted technology to assist Immigration officers in assessing applications efficiently. 

One such technological marvel is the “Chinook” tool, which categorizes applications into different complexity levels.

As the Federal Court of Canada steps into the picture, a fascinating jurisprudence has emerged, shedding light on using these assisted decision-making tools and their impact on immigration outcomes. This article delves into the critical court cases that have shaped this emerging landscape.

Case 1: Ocran v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2022 FC 175

In a pivotal case, the Court evaluated a challenge to a study permit refusal. The applicant’s counsel questioned whether Chinook “spreadsheets” were missing from the Certified Tribunal Record (CTR). 

Though the case was dismissed on other grounds, the Court left the issue open for future scrutiny.

Case 2: Haghshenas v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2023 FC 464

In this case, the applicant challenged using artificial intelligence in decision-making, particularly the reliance on the “Chinook” software. Concerns about the tool’s reliability and the potential consequences of machine learning replacing human input were raised. 

Despite these concerns, the Court emphasized the need to focus on the decision’s reasonableness and whether artificial intelligence was involved.

Case 3: Raja v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2023 FC 719

Raja’s work permit application faced a refusal, and the applicant argued that Chinook undermined the reasonableness of the officer’s decision. Unlike the previous case, the Respondent presented arguments and defended the tool’s use for improving efficiency. 

Due to Chinook’s application, the Court highlighted the importance of evidence supporting claims of procedural fairness breaches.

Case 4: Safarian v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2023 FC 775

Here, the Court encountered a study permit application refusal, and the applicant challenged the use of Chinook and the boilerplate reasons generated by the tool. 

The Court acknowledged that boilerplate statements are commonly seen in refusals and stressed that decision-makers must adequately consider the case’s facts.

Case 5: Khosravi v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2023 FC 805

In this study permit refusal case, the Court once again encountered Chinook’s involvement and raised concerns about a possible “truncated vision” of applications. The Court underscored that assisted decision-making tools should not replace the full consideration of an application’s contents.

A Shifting Landscape

From March to June 2023, the Federal Court rendered judgments in various Chinook-related cases, gradually reshaping its perspective. While some cases leaned towards defending the use of the tool, others highlighted the need for comprehensive assessment and evidence-backed challenges. 

As this jurisprudence unfolds, it sets the stage for a potential game-changer: a case where the Court may certify a question on the fairness of using artificial intelligence or advanced analytics in decision-making. Such a landmark decision could shape immigration processing and jurisprudence for decades.

Implications for Stakeholders

Given the potential impact of these court rulings, stakeholders involved in immigration matters must take a strategic approach. Counsel, in particular, should carefully consider the implications of challenging new tools like Chinook. 

Taking on judicial review applications demands a mindful understanding of the high stakes inherent in the decision-making process under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations. Collaboration among colleagues and fact-based arguments are crucial in navigating this evolving landscape.


As the IRCC embraces technology to expedite immigration applications, the “Chinook” tool has become a pivotal component in assessing eligibility. The Federal Court of Canada has examined its use and implications through several landmark cases. 

While some decisions emphasize the need for a comprehensive evaluation, others underscore the significance of focusing on the reasonableness of outcomes, with or without artificial intelligence involvement. 

As the jurisprudence unfolds, stakeholders must adapt and strategize, considering the potential long-term impact on immigration processing. With a cautious yet proactive approach, stakeholders can navigate this evolving landscape and contribute to a fair and efficient immigration system for all.


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