05:11 GMT20 June 2021
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    A 29-year-old South Sudanese man denied he was lying when he posed as a teenager to go to high school in Canada, arguing that he just didn’t know his real age.

    Jonathan Elia Nicola, who has been held by immigration since April 15, attended a brief detention hearing in Windsor on Tuesday and was ordered to remain in custody.

    He said that his mother never told him his birthday, leading him to believe he was 17, and not 29, as the Canada Border Services Agency alleges.

    "I do not know, I really do not know my real age, I cannot tell you what my real age is," Nicola said at the hearing.  "My mom always [kept] telling us different [ages]. I do not remember what specific age."

    “Over (in South Sudan)… not every year we study… we always keep moving to different schools, and over there, they do not ask your age. They do not ask you nothing,” Nicola said.

    Nicola said that all he wanted was to receive a good education in Canada to be able to support his family back in Sudan.

    Jonathan Elia Nicola arrived in Canada last November on a student visa to attend a Catholic secondary school on a full scholarship, thestar.com, Canada's largest online news site, wrote.

    He successfully went through numerous levels of screening by immigration officials and the school board that enrolled him as a student.

    It was not until December when Nicola applied for a US visitor’s visa to play basketball with the school that Canada Border Services Agency was alerted by their American counterparts that his fingerprints matched a former failed refugee claimant with the same name but a different age.

    Nicola’s next detention hearing is scheduled for May 24, pending an imminent admissibility hearing, which will determine if he will be removed from Canada.

    All foreign visitors and students must meet stringent requirements to be admitted to Canada. People from 29 countries, including South Sudan, must also submit fingerprints and photos when they apply for a visa.


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