New Canadian without passport stuck in Jamaica

A Kamloops man says he's stuck in Jamaica because he was misinformed by Canada's immigration and border officials.

Dwayne Thomas traveled to Jamaica with his citizenship certificate and Jamaican passport

Dwayne Thomas says he was misinformed by Canadian officials 2:33

A Kamloops man says he's stuck in Jamaica because he was misinformed by Canada's immigration and border officials.

Dwayne Thomas received his Canadian citizenship papers last week just before travelling to Jamaica for his grandmother's funeral.

Thomas's wife, Heather, told CBC News the couple spoke with immigration officers and Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers who told them Thomas could return to Canada with his citizenship certificate and Jamaican passport.
"We were assured that was going to be enough," she said. "The guy almost laughed and said, 'Well yeah, you're a Canadian citizen now.'"
But when Thomas tried to fly home, his wife says Air Canada wouldn't allow him on the plane without a Canadian passport.

"They phoned the High Commission in Kingston and they told them that no, it wasn't enough," she said.

According to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website, a citizenship certificate is not a travel document, but Thomas and his wife say they didn't know that.

Now, Thomas has been told by the Canadian High Commission in Jamaica that it will take until Halloween to get him a passport.

"I have to get back to my job," Thomas said. "I have bills to pay. My kids miss me. They are crying all night."

New citizen Dwayne Thomas did not have a Canadian passport when he traveled to Jamaica last week for a funeral. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

When contacted by CBC News, Air Canada, the CBSA and Citizen and Immigration Canada would not comment about Thomas's case.

A CBSA spokesperson said Canadians need a Canadian passport to ensure they are not denied re-entry and Air Canada says it cannot legally transport a person to Canada who does have not a prescribed document.

But immigration lawyer Richard Kurland says it's outrageous Air Canada is preventing Thomas from boarding a flight home.

"For Air Canada. Shame, shame. That's wrong. A Canadian citizenship certificate ought to be enough, to prove that the holder is Canadian and entitled to board that airplane," he said.

"The solution is to send the fellow to Canadian embassies to get a quick travel document. If that's not possible, you have to take matters into your own hands and get a lawyer or try your luck at threatening the airline company with a financial penalty."

With files from the CBC's Brady Strachan


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