TORONTO (Reuters) - A South Sudanese high school student in Canada has been detained and faces possible deportation after he was found to be a 29-year-old man instead of the teenager he claimed to be, authorities said on Friday.
Jonathan Nicola said he was 16 when he came to Canada late last year on a student visa, and his passport showed him to be of that age, said the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board.
But a fingerprint scan conducted “recently” for a U.S. visa application found he once applied for the visa using the birth year of 1986, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.
According to the immigration board, the border agency said 1986 is Nicola’s true birth year in its submission to the board.
Board spokeswoman Anna Pape said in a statement Nicola has been in custody since April 15.
A spokesman for the Catholic Central High School in Windsor, Ontario, near Detroit, said Nicola is a student there, though he said he cannot comment further on the issue due to privacy legislation.
Nicola played basketball for the high school, according to the team’s website. The team’s coach did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In January, before Nicola was accused of misrepresenting his age, the Windsor Star reported Nicola came to Canada because he wanted to escape his war-torn country. Nicola was spotted by a Sudanese basketball player with U.S. ties who helped him come to Canada, according to the newspaper.
Canada’s border agency said Nicola should be deemed inadmissible, as he misrepresented himself when he applied for his student visa, according to its submission to the immigration board.
Pape said Nicola will have a hearing to determine his admissibility. It is not immediately clear whether a date has been set for that hearing, but Pape said the board ruled Nicola to be a flight risk and ordered him detained.
Pape is said Nicola is held in a Windsor jail and another detention review is set for Tuesday.
The U.S. State Department, which handles visas, said it does not comment on specific cases.
South Sudan does not have an embassy in Canada. A representative at its embassy in Washington could not be immediately reached for comment.
Reporting by Ethan Lou in Toronto, editing by G Crosse