Man Fights For His Canadian Identity

22 Mar 2023

Denied Canadian Citizenship Two Years After Application

Global News has been following and reporting on an interesting story of a man who, after having spent almost his entire adult life in Canada, was denied Canadian citizenship. Jonathan “Yoani” Kuiper was born in the Netherlands, but his family moved to Canada when he was just fourteen months old. He lived in Canada for 27 years. His application was denied because he did not meet the criteria for citizenship according to Canadian immigration rules. The problem lies in the rule.

Permanent residents were previously required (at the time of the application in 2013) to accumulate at least 4 years of worth of residency days out of six years prior to applying. While that’s been recently been changed (now they can accumulate three years out of five), he hadn’t spent a total of the prerequisite four of the six years previous to his application in the country. Previous time spent in the country is not considered, no matter how long you’ve lived in Canada. Kuiper went to Toronto’s York University and helped found a small coffee chain in the city. He moved back to the Netherlands to get his master’s degree, returned to Canada, then took a job in Europe, eventually settling back in the Netherlands.

“My entire life I’ve always identified and understood myself to be Canadian”

He was 597 days short of fulfilling the requirement. While waiting on word back on his application for citizenship, Kuiper’s permanent resident card expired as he assumed his citizenship application would be approved. He is appealing that, but that process can take as long as two years and he won’t be allowed to return to Canada in the meantime. Things got more complicated when after being denied citizenship, there was an error in the ensuing visa process that left him unsure whether he’d be able to come home to see his family any time soon. All this to say, he did recently get some good news this month. His appeal of the decision to have his permanent residency revoked was approved, essentially granting him a five-year extension of his PR status.

“Everywhere I travel I’m recognized as a Canadian, but the only one still not willing to recognize that is the government of Canada.”

The new rules would allow him to earn the opportunity to gain his Canadian citizenship by spending at least three of those years physically present in the country. Regardless, Kuiper isn’t sure if he’s willing to upend his whole life to simply come back to Canada to fulfill the prerequisite conditions to apply for Citizenship. At this point he’s established and cultivated his career and family life in the Netherlands since moving there and questions whether the whole ordeal is worth the trouble. He thinks his case merits newly appointed Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to intervene and use his discretionary powers – something he can do in extraordinary circumstances in accordance with the newly enshrined changes to the Citizenship Act.