IRCC has revealed that they use a notes generator: Chinook to help an officer refuse temporary resident applications. After an Officer chooses to refuse a file, they are provided access to this tool to help choose the reasons. Officers are not required to disclose all the reasons of a refusal, but only to choose the more general applicable to the case. I personally advocate for not requesting GMCS notes in every single case and here it is an extensive explanation of why not to do so. In Ocran v. Canada (MCI), IMM-6571-20, an affidavit revealed for the first time the innerworkings of Chinook, an Excel based tool developed in-house by IRCC to allow visa officers to review applications more quickly and the mechanism by which the final decisions are recorded and reasons for decisions are “generated” in this tool.
Requesting GMCS notes may also create a delay in your file (if it’s still active), so think twice or seek legal advice before making the request. Since people learned that GMCS were available, the request of such notes has been abused, which has led to a different issue.
GMCS on Refused Applications
If your application has been refused and you believe that requesting GMCS notes will save your new application, you are definitely mistaken. First, consider if you have a case to be judicially reviewed. Eligible students who have their study permits refused, are being encouraged to Judicial Review so their concerns can be actually heard and not just assessed by a software tool. If your application was not well founded in the beginning of the application, then do not judicial review at federal court level, but prepare properly with the assistance of a lawyer for your next application. Prepare this time to judicial review in the event of a second refusal.
Chinook is being used internally by IRCC to process the applications and once the officer has made up their mind to refuse, choose from a range of reasons into GCMS without providing intelligible and reasonable decision-making. This means that no one will ever see what the actual notes of the officer are. This is one of the main reasons to judicial review the decision. Once the application for leave for judicial review has been filed, IRCC is required to provide written reasons for the refusal. This cannot be the general letter that you received with the refusal.
Currently there are two versions of Chinook: May 2021 and July 2020. They are only used for temporary applications: visitor, study permits, and work permits.
Initially, GMCS was design to provide details, now it’s being feed by another automated tool. This explains why when you look at GMCS the reasons are not coherent with your profile and case.
Procedural Fairness and Basic Principles of Law
Considering the high volume of applications, there are also reasons to believe that officers may have their discretion fettered if they have already approved several (maybe hundreds) of applications in one single day.
There are indicators of risk depending on the visa office you are applying, there are keywords that Chinook red flags and may lead to a visa refusal.
Going to federal court and challenging these indicators and refusals, basically means overturning the engineering decisions made by a tool and arguing procedural fairness factors, as well as other basic principles of Administrative Law.
If you are considering a second try in your application, work with a lawyer to prepare legal arguments along with your submissions. Applying for a visa, study permit or work permit goes beyond just filling out forms, there are principles of the rule of law that must be applied; and also practical tips that align with new procedures and how the software interprets legal disclosures.
Maria Campos is a lawyer with 12 years of experience in immigration law; passionate for Immigration Law and Administrative Law (Regulatory Law), she will be able to assist you with a successful application.