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High School Basketball Star Claims He didn’t Know he was 29 Years Old

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A South Sudanese man has been accused of lying about his age to qualify for a student visa.  For six months, Jonathan Nicola garnered significant attention while playing basketball for Catholic Central High School in Windsor, Ontario for his dominant skills on the court.

On April 15th Nicola was arrested for violating the Immigration Refugee Protection Act for posing as a 17-year old student in order to attain an education visa. Nicola, who’s been living with his basketball coach for six months, first sparked suspicions about his age after conflicting immigration documents revealed his birth year as 1986. The high school basketball star allegedly falsified documents in a second attempt to obtain a visa. Nicola was originally denied a student visa when he listed his correct birth date in an application filed in 2015; his fingerprint records eventually unraveled the scheme.

In a hearing last week, Nicola testified that nor he nor his mother knew his exact age and that he did not purposely lie to deceive immigration officials. He said, “I always keep asking what is the specific age that I was born, and she has told me that she could not remember.”  He attempts to explain the debacle by pointing the finger towards his basketball coach only known as “Coach Steyn” saying the coach approached him with an offer to attend school in North America on a full scholarship. Nicola says Steyn handled all the paperwork.

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