A 19 year-old made a free robot lawyer that can help refugees claim asylum


Refugees leave a tent camp for refugees in Brussels on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.

Geert Vanden Wijngaert / AP / Press Association Images

Refugees leave a tent camp for refugees in Brussels on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.

In late 2015, Stanford student Joshua Browder created a chatbot, called DoNotPay, that helps users appeal parking tickets for free in the UK.


Browder, then 19 years old, described it to Business Insider as one of the world's first robot lawyers. It overturned over $3 million in parking fines in a matter of a few months.

Realizing the bot could have multiple applications, Browder later programmed it to assist travelers in claiming compensation for delayed flights and to help the homeless apply for government housing in the UK.

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Now, using Facebook Messenger, the bot can also help refugees fill out immigration applications in the US, UK, and Canada, according to The Guardian.

refugee bot

Do Not Pay

A screenshot of Joshua Browder's chatbot that helps refugees find asylum.


Once users sign into Facebook through DoNotPay's site, a chat screen pops up. To learn about a case and determine the correct application, the bot asks questions like, "What other names have you used?" and "Have you, your family, or colleagues ever experienced harm or threats?" It then gives users detailed instructions on how to fill out the application, which they mail to court.

The bot is based on a conversation algorithm, meaning it uses keywords, pronouns, and word order to understand a user's issue. Browder previously told BI that the more people use the bot, the more intelligent it becomes. The algorithm can quickly analyze large amounts of data while improving itself in the process.

Browder worked with immigration lawyers in each country to develop this latest version of the bot. He began the project before President Trump's election, but says that he feels the bot has now taken on new significance, given the administration's recent initiatives to immigration.

In early March, the Trump administration revised its executive order on immigration, which now seeks to temporarily ban refugees and immigrants from six majority-Muslim countries.

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