Update: papers filed for judicial review of the Home Office’s visa algorithm

Tagged with: Algorithmic justice, Home Office

Foxglove is supporting the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) to challenge the Home Office’s use of a secret algorithm to sift visa applications, which it describes as a digital “streaming tool”.

We share JCWI’s concerns that this shadowy, computer-driven process has the power to affect someone’s chances of getting a visa and is likely to be doing so in a discriminatory way.

Papers have now been filed in this case seeking a judicial review. This is an important step. It moves us one stage closer to the case being heard by a judge. You can read more about this development in this article in the Guardian newspaper.

Since the case launched in October, we’ve engaged in pre-action correspondence with the Home Office. We still aren’t convinced that the algorithm doesn’t spit out bias or discriminatory decisions. We are still worried that a computer program is affecting people’s right to come here to work, study or see loved ones.

We also continue to be concerned it seems to be discriminating on the basis of crude characteristics like nationality – rather than assessing individual applicants fairly. People from rich white countries are getting Speedy Boarding. Poorer people of colour are getting pushed to the back of the queue.

Coronavirus is affecting the legal system and that may mean some delays in the case being heard in court. However, it definitely won’t be preventing JCWI, with our support, from pursuing this matter to its conclusion.

Families kept apart by this secretive visa algorithm may include key workers upon whom we are all relying during the current pandemic.

It’s more important than ever to challenge this injustice so that, once the pandemic is over and people are able to travel again, every visa application is assessed transparently and fairly.

JCWI have launched a crowdfunder to cover their legal costs in this case. Please donate by clicking the Donate button below if you can.