Chat bot helps immigrants complete their visas

A Facebook Messenger conversation could get you into the US.

Reuters/Carlo Allegri

Legal-minded chat bots are useful for more than just fighting parking tickets -- they might just start your life in a new land. Visabot has launched a namesake Facebook Messenger chat AI that helps you complete US visa applications. After you answer a slew of questions, the bot fills out the relevant forms and gives you instructions on how to send those documents to immigration officials. And it should learn over time -- if you voluntarily report officials' decisions on those forms, you can improve the bot's approach for future applications.

The assistance is limited to two visas right now (B-2 extensions for business and travel, O-1 for exceptional individuals), but the plan is to extend it to H-1B and L-1 skilled worker visas. Your first session is free, and you can talk to lawyers over Skype if Visabot can't answer a question.

This won't take all the hard work out of applying for a visa, and there's certainly no guarantee that you'll be approved. The AI can only work with the information you provide -- it can't work miracles. However, it could eliminate some of your initial uncertainty about the process, and spare you from talking to flesh-and-blood lawyers until it's truly necessary.