The UK Home Office has come under immense pressure for using an algorithm to process visa applications which critics have warned could be a tool for discrimination.
Concerns have been raised over the algorithm after the Home office refused to divulge how it works and what goes into its selections.
The algorithm, known as the ‘streaming tool’, is used to process work, study and visitor visas. It works by sorting the applications into red, yellow or green based on their level of risk.
Since there has been no information published by the Home Office on what criteria the algorithm uses to assess risk or even how often it’s updated, critics say it is rife for abuse.
It could discriminate against certain applicants based on their age or nationality without the public ever knowing about it.
The Home Office says they are not publicizing how it works because it could encourage fraudulent applications aimed at ‘gaming’ the algorithm.
Use of the algorithm had hitherto been unknown to the public until a group of lawyers visiting a visa centre in Sheffield were shown a demonstration of the streaming process.
Christina Blacklaw, President of the Law Society has said there is a need for government agencies to have a legal framework for the use of such algorithms.
“We urgently need a legal framework for the use of algorithms by public bodies and governments,” she said.
“There is a real risk of illegal deployment or discrimination or prejudice that can be accidentally incorporated into an algorithm or introduced by an operator.”
In response, a departmental chairman in the office refused to answer questions about the algorithm, but insisted that it is in compliance with equality legislation and doesn’t work ‘on the basis of race’.
However, the explanation doesn’t satisfy critics, who insist that an algorithm is only as good as those who created it.
“Every system is just as good as the inputs used to create it,” Diane Abbott, Shadow Home Secretary said.
“If there are biases, or if they incorporate the prejudices that occur in society, then these outputs will be likened to the same.”
If you have recently been refused a visa, and you want to challenge the decision because it is unreasonable or if you intend to make any UK visa/leave application, the UK Immigration Law experts at Adukus Solicitors are able to handle this.
You can Adukus Solicitors on +447837576037 (Direct/Whatsapp). Alternatively, E-mail: [email protected]