‘Robot Lawyer’ App Redesigned To Help Refugees Apply For Asylum Via Facebook

DoNotPay was initially created to help fight parking fines.

DoNotPay, a chatbot originally designed to help individuals challenge parking tickets has been retooled to help refugees apply for asylum in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. through breaking down the complicated legal language that can sometimes appear on such forms. 

Through a series of questions asked through a bot that connects to Facebook Messenger, it is determined, first, if an individual qualifies to seek asylum and then takes down the necessary details needed to fill out the application. 

"There's this huge problem among immigration lawyers where the majority of their time is spent filling out forms rather than actually challenging the legal complexities of the case," developer Joshua Browder told Business Insider. "Ultimately, I just want to level the playing field so there's a bot for everything."


A mother and child in the Akcakale Refugee Camp in Turkey. Tolga Sezgin / Shutterstock

Browder told the Guardian he has been working on the update for the past six months, going back and tweaking the bot based on suggestions from lawyers and and individuals who had successfully applied for asylum. Initially, the app focused just on the U.K. and the U.S., but he added in Canada due to the changing political climate. 

In its previous incarnation as an app that helped people dispute parking violations, the "robot lawyer" helped overturn more than 160,000 cases. Browder also previously re-tuned the bot to be able to help those with housing issues. 

He told the Guardian that he next hopes to work on translating the bot into other languages, including Arabic. He believes the new version of DoNotPay is "long overdue."

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