Chinook is an Internal IRCC tool used by immigration officers to speed up processing of immigration applications.
A group of Canadian immigration officers created this electronic tool to process applications faster and in bulk.
And, this is outside of the official case-management system (GCMS).
This was disclosed in a recent case of “Abigail Ocran v. the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.”
However, not all the immigration officers use this tool because it’s at the discretion of immigration officer to use it or not.
IRCC’s director of international-network optimization and modernization, Andie Daponte testified in this case.
He revealed that this tool was originally created without legal oversight and is being used to process applications for study permit, temporary resident visa, and work permit, since March 2018.
Chinook collects immigration files in mass for “batch processes.” This allows officers to “flag” what they consider high- or low-risk immigration applications.
And, helps them draft rejection letters to hopeful immigrants and visitors.
Concerns About Chinook!
There has been a lot of questions and concerns regarding Chinook in consideration for fairness and accountability in Canada’s immigration system.
Consensus indicates that there has been an increase in the number of immigration applications being rejected without any logical reason.
Chinook was introduced in March 2018 and refusal rates increased significantly. Study visa refusal rate jumped from 34% in 2018 to 40% in 2019.
Furthermore, refusal rate has increased from 40% to 53% in 2020. Also, the study permit refusal rate for India has increased from 34% in 2018 to 57% in 2020.
Most of the refusals are just getting a template message which may be totally unrelated to the person’s case.
Andie Daponte told “The Logic” that he was part of a team of immigration officers with backgrounds in temporary-resident visa applications and in-house technical experts versed in “immigration processing or computer sciences” who created the first version of Chinook using Visual Basic for Applications in Microsoft Excel.
He also added that in some IRCC offices, a web- or cloud-based version of this tool is now in use.
What Happened in “Abigail Ocran v. the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.”
Abigail Ocran resident of Ghana applied for study visa to study business administration at Calgary’s Bow Valley College.
Abigail’s application was processed using Chinook and was refused with two apparently contradictory reasons:
- Family ties to Canada, IRCC wasn’t convinced she’d leave the country when her permit expired.
- The third party she said would fund her studies was too remote of a connection to her. Apparently, not recognizing it was her Canadian maternal uncle, an arrangement allowed under immigration law
This decision was challenged by Ocran’s lawyer, Edos Omorotionmwan. His rationale was that if it has been handled by a visa officer, then Abigail would had a better consideration of her visa application.
During the proceeding, the government disclosed it had used Chinook on her application. As per the court proceedings, Chinook creation was a bypass around the “significant delays” IRCC officers around the world face using the Global Case Management System (GCMS).
The Logic reported that an email sent by department’s spokesperson Isabelle Dubois defined Chinook as a standalone tool that streamlines administrative steps, and that the information in Chinook is all available in IRCC’s system of record. Despite having a decision-maker module, IRCC said Chinook is not a decision-making tool. “Decision-makers are required to review all applications and render their decisions based on the information presented before them. Chinook does not fundamentally change the way applications are processed, and it is always the officer that gives the [rationale] for the decisions and not the Chinook tool,” wrote Dubois.
However, IRCC Says Chinook does not change the way decisions are made. Click here to know more about what IRCC says about Chinook.