TORONTO — A South Sudanese man who passed himself off as a teenager so he could attend a Canadian high school on a basketball scholarship has been granted bail pending possible deportation action.
A spokeswoman for the Immigration and Refugee Board says a government lawyer told a detention review on Monday that Jonathan Nicola, incarcerated in Windsor, Ont., now had a viable release plan.
Anna Pape says the plan comprises a cash deposit of $2,000 and a guarantee of another $5,000 from a family friend, Charles Juma, who said he would ensure Nicola showed up for future hearings.
The presiding board member, Karen Greenwood, agreed the proposal mitigated any risk that Nicola, who appeared via video conference, would flee and ordered his release.
Nicola is required to report every two weeks to the Canada Border Services Agency, reside with Juma, and abide by a curfew.
He also had to surrender his passport and is forbidden from working or studying without authorization.
No hearing on whether he is inadmissible to Canada has been scheduled, Pape said.
Board documents show Nicola arrived in Canada on Nov. 23, 2015, and was issued a study permit to attend Catholic Central Secondary School in Windsor, which had offered him an athletic scholarship.
Both his passport and study-permit application state his date of birth as Nov. 25, 1998, meaning he would be 17 years old. However, the fiction unravelled after he applied in December for an American visa so he could travel to the States to play basketball with his high school team.
Documents supplied by U.S. authorities showed Nicola had applied unsuccessfully for refugee status in 2007 and had given his date of birth as Nov. 1, 1986, which would now make him 29 years old, not 17.
Canadian immigration agents arrested him at school on April 15.
WATCH: Jonathan Nicola had reportedly been attending Catholic Central High School as a 17-year-old student where he also played for the school’s basketball team.
Nicola has claimed not to know how old he is, although he conceded to being older than 17, and said his mother also didn’t know his exact age.
“She always keep telling us different ages,” he told a hearing last month.
At a previous hearing, he said he was “not a liar person” and had not come to Canada to cause any harm.
Before his arrest, he had been living with his basketball coach.
He had been ordered detained as a flight risk, but Greenwood decided Monday that was no longer necessary.