AI and the Canadian immigration industry: How one may affect the other sooner than we think


Written by Joshua Schachnow, CEO and Canadian Immigration Lawyer at

It’s hard to go a few clicks on the internet without reading about Artificial Intelligence (AI). It’s quickly swept across the world and all industries, and while the party is just getting started, it’s left a lot of people thinking about the mid and long-term effects it could have.

AI will certainly play a big role in the legal industry, but more specifically, many of the lawyers at CILA have already started asking “How will AI affect the practice and business of immigration in Canada?”

Here are a few of my own best guesses:

Improving operations

Immigration lawyers spend a lot of time interfacing with clients, but the majority of the operations of a law firm relate to preparing immigration applications, documents, and files.

This could be a variety of things like filling out forms, gathering supporting documents (such as copies of passports, resumes, etc.), organizing files and more. In essence, a lot more administrative tasks could – in theory – be done using automation and/or AI.

In my view, this is the lowest hanging fruit in terms of how AI can reshape the practice of Canadian immigration, especially if you’re doing a lot of application work – as compared to, litigation – where most of the tasks could be done with technology.

I do not believe we are far off from a world where clients could upload a few documents and software could scan them, scrape the necessary information, pre-fill forms accordingly, draft the necessary letters, and maybe even evaluate the documents as a whole to determine if it’s a strong case or not. When this happens, firms will be able to prepare applications in a fraction of the time. Instead of one staff member spending 5-10 hours preparing and reviewing an application, it may take them 1 hour.

We’re already starting to see this with firms using tools like Chat-GPT to draft documents, and the rest won’t be far behind.


Right now, most law firms doing application work charge on a fixed-fee basis. For example, if you retain a firm to prepare and submit an Express Entry application, the price will likely be in the thousands of dollars.

But let’s continue the line of thinking from my first point. What if it now takes that same law firm 1 hour, instead of 10, to prepare and submit that same Express Entry application?

Will firms still charge the same amount? Should they?

It’s hard to say. But most industries are driven by supply and demand, and my best guess is that the more forward-thinking firms that adopt AI to cut down their operations will either hold their fees constant (as opposed to having them creep up over time with inflation) or lower them.

The result?

A potential client will have to decide between the firm that charges thousands of dollars to do it “the old-fashioned way”, or the modern firm that will do it for half (or less) of the cost of the other firms (because they can afford to, thanks to the reduced operating costs).

This may seem like a bad thing for law firms, but I see it as the opposite; instead of spending time/resources on operations, firms can focus more on customizing each application to the specific client, marketing, sales, and offering amazing customer service, while saving their clients money as well.

Customer Service

Another major area of immigration that can (and will) be improved thanks to AI is customer service. As most immigrants and immigration lawyers can attest to, the process is usually a confusing and stressful one. Clients tend to have lots of questions, while lawyers often lack the time to adequately respond to them.

Not in the near future.

With the help of AI in the form of chatbots, firms can benefit from automated virtual assistants that will be able to handle common client questions and requests, automatically and instantly. Feed AI enough of the IRCC rules, regulations, and other text, and it’ll be able to learn the answers to most questions better and faster than a lawyer ever could.

And this isn’t so far-fetched – chatbots have been around for years and more startups/services pop up everyday that allow you to train a chatbot and get it set up on your website (or messenger app) in seconds.

This is yet another way that immigration lawyers will actually be able to “outsource” more of their operations while giving clients a better experience too.


Not all AI has to be scary. As we’ve discussed above, I can already see it moving in a positive direction that will actually make the practice of immigration law more convenient, faster, all while providing a great (read: better) customer experience too.

My biggest concern? The firms that don’t adapt AI to their practice will have to compete with the firms that do – for all of the reasons above, and I’m sure many more we have yet to imagine.

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