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04 August 2020

Home Office climb down on the algorithm for UK visas

1 min

Ahead of a judicial review brought by  the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants  the Home Office have agreed  that to scrap the existing “streaming algorithm” that  since 2015 has been used to filter visa applications to the UK into three channels.  The algorithm has long been considered to operate in a discriminatory fashion, fast tracking applications from majority white nation applicants into a “fast lane”, whilst subjecting applications from countries which are largely black to far greater scrutiny.  The Home Office is to redesign the streaming algorithm, and have accepted that they will consider unconscious bias and the use of nationality generally when doing so.

This is the first time that a successful challenge has been made to the use of Artificial Intelligence in the  UK immigration system, and the timing of the climb down suggests that the Home Office thought that their arguments in support of the streaming algorithm would not stand the full scrutiny of the courts. It is to be hoped that the Home Office learn the lessons about unconscious bias raised by the official report into the treatment of the Windrush generation.

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