The British Home Office Adapt Visa Algorithm After Racism Complaint

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The British Home Office will no longer be using a computer algorithm to decide who is eligible for residence permits. The algorithm is said to be racist.


At least, according to Foxglove, an activist group that has filed a lawsuit against the software together with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI).

According to Foxglove, the algorithm is “quick entry for whites”. The Home Office disagrees with that comparison.

The lawsuit revolves around an automated system used by the ministry to filter visa applications. The system has been in existence for years, and it processes part of the information from applicants for a residence permit, including, for example, country of origin.

Then it gives them a colour code: green, orange or red. People with a red colour code are then checked more thoroughly. Foxglove says the system has a list of countries that are automatically given a red code, which discriminates against the algorithm based on nationality. And since it is an AI, there is a second problem of a ‘feedback loop’.

The final results of the applications for residence permits are fed back into the system. But because people from certain countries are much more thoroughly monitored, they are also more often rejected, making the algorithm even stricter towards them.

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