Canada is denying travel visas to AI researchers headed to NeurIPS — again


Canadian immigration officials are denying travel visas to a large number of AI researchers and research students scheduled to attend NeurIPS and the Black in AI workshop, event organizers said. Those denied entry include Tẹjúmádé Àfọ̀njá, co-organizer of the NeurIPS Machine Learning for the Developing World workshop.

Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPs) is the largest annual international AI conference in the world, according to the AI Index 2018 report. The conference is scheduled to be held December 8-14 in Vancouver, Canada.

On Tuesday, Black in AI cofounder and Google AI researcher Timnit Gebru said 15 of 44 attendees planning to join the event’s December 9 workshop were denied entry. Many cited immigration officials’ fears that they would not return home.

This is the second year the conference will be held in Canada. Last year, nearly half of Black in AI workshop attendees were also denied entry to Canada, Gebru said. As is reported by attendees year, Canadian immigration officials in 2018 voiced concerns that attendees wouldn’t leave the country when the conference was over.