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Visa Gods and Algorithmic Thinking: The Evolution of Canadian Visa Officers’ Work in an Age of Mass Processing

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posted on 2024-02-08, 22:02 authored by Nicholas Lee-Scott

This study addresses the historical evolution of Canadian visa officers’ experiences processing and making decisions on economic immigrant applications from the 1970s to the present. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with five retired Canadian visa officers who worked between the 1970s and 1980s until the 2010s. The interviews covered the span of the participants’ careers, and questions focused on their use of discretion, the structural changes participants experienced, and the effects of technological innovations on their jobs. The interviews are analyzed alongside academic literature addressing subjects of discretion, street-level bureaucracy, advanced technology, and migration management. I argue that within the past half-century, the Canadian state has increasingly prioritized mass processing economic immigrant applications over providing individual client service. Mass processing is operationalized by structuring the work of visa officers through performance management and legal review, diffusing case processing around the world, and impersonalizing public service through minimizing bureaucrat-client contact.

History

Language

English

Degree

  • Master of Arts

Program

  • Immigration and Settlement Studies

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • MRP

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Anna Triandafyllidou

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    Immigration and Settlement Studies (MRPs)

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