Windsor

Canada's immigration system vulnerable to fraud, says lawyer

A Windsor, Ont. immigration lawyer says an alleged case of passport fraud in Windsor may be only one of many cases to slip through the cracks in Canada’s immigration system.

'It's not a perfect system by any stretch'

Windsor immigration lawyer Eddie Kadri says an alleged case of misinformation on a passport shows there are cracks in Canada's immigration system. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

A Windsor, Ont. immigration lawyer says an alleged case of passport fraud in Windsor may be only one of many cases to slip through the cracks in Canada's immigration system.  

"We have a good system [but] it's not a perfect system by any stretch," Eddie Kadri told CBC Radio's Windsor Morning. "Professionals like myself are advocating to change and close these cracks where people slip through, because it happens all the time."

Kadri was commenting on the story of Jonathan Nicola, a native of South Sudan who is accused of lying about his age to come to Canada — though Kadri doesn't have direct knowledge of the case. 

Nicola is accused of entering the country using false information on his passport from South Sudan.

Canada Border Services Agency officials allege he came to Canada in November 2015 on a student visa to study in Windsor until January 2017.

When he entered the country, Nicola's passport and visa application listed his birth date as November 1998. But when he applied for a U.S. visitor visa in April 2016, his fingerprints matched an individual who'd already applied for a visa with a birth date in November 1986, the CBSA alleges.

If the allegations are proved, that would make him 29, not 17, as his documentation suggests.

Nicola said he doesn't know his true age, according to transcripts from testimony at an Immigration and Refugee Board detention review hearing April 19. An IRB adjudicator ruled she did not believe that to be true.  

Nicola is being detained at the South West Detention Centre in Windsor until another detention review hearing May 24. But he could have an admissibility hearing to determine whether he can stay in Canada this week.

Kadri said Canadian immigration rules rely on honesty, something that could be defeated with false documents.

"A big component of our immigration system relies on honesty. There's no way we can verify everything that people say," Kadri said. "But certainly with respect to someone's age … that attacks the credibility of our system. If we can't get that right, it's a cause for concern for everyone."   

To hear Kadri's full interview with Windsor Morning's Tony Doucette, click on the media player below.

A Windsor immigration lawyer says Jonathan Nicola case is like nothing he's ever seen. We spoke to Eddie Kadri. 8:39

With files from the CBC's Windsor Morning and Tony Doucette