September 12, 2013

International Students Facing Deportation Claim Sanctuary in Church

Posted by Fabiola Arevalo - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Over a year ago, two Nigerian students studying at the University of Regina took sanctuary in a Saskatchewan church to avoid deportation.

Victoria Ordu and Ihouma Amadi were on student visas and, misunderstanding the particulars concerning their ability to work, took off-campus jobs for several weeks until they realized that off-campus work required a work permit.  Despite Ms. Ordu’s swift action to quit the job, she still received a call from CBSA two weeks later and found herself facing deportation.

Now, in order to avoid deportation, the women have had to forgo returning to school with their classmates and have been claiming sanctuary in a church.

Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism at the time, Jason Kenney, stated “one of the women in question is not a student and has not been attending classes or enrolled in an institution for several months, but was working illegally without a work permit.”

Ms. Amadi vehemently disagreed, stating that she was, in fact, a student at the time.

There is hope that new Minister, Chris Alexander, will have a different approach to a situation that is viewed by many as an honest mistake with unjust ramifications.  The government has proposed new regulations concerning the eligibility of international students to work part-time at off-campus jobs– regulations that could have prevented Ms. Ordu and Ms. Amadi’s current imbroglio.

In a CBC interview with Anna Maria Tremonti, Mario D. Bellissimo shared his insight stating, “It’s good to hear that the students are represented… Hopefully [they are] taking steps because there are steps and applications that they can make to try to mitigate the circumstances and hopefully resume their studies…Canada, the last time I checked, is no longer a top 10 destination country for foreign students in the world. So I think there is some work to be done there. I think we have a lot to offer.”

The women have the support of many, including their school, but for now, they must play the waiting game.


Click here to listen to Mario D. Bellissimo’s interview on  The Current (CBC)

Click here to learn more about study permits.

Click here to learn more about work permits.