Ottawa-born man is still fighting for a work permit

Drake Fenton, Ottawa Citizen, 23 August 2013

OTTAWA — The legal team representing a stateless Ottawa-born man who is facing deportation has put pressure on Canada’s immigration agency to grant their client a work permit.

Since being released from an immigration holding centre in May, 23-year-old Deepan Budlakoti has been denied a work permit and forced to live with his parents under curfew, despite being born in Canada.

Budlakoti drew attention to himself with a conviction on drug-related charges in 2010. The federal government is now trying to deport him because of a rarely used section of the Citizenship Act that states that if a child is born while the parents are foreign diplomats or foreigners working for a diplomat then the child is not considered a Canadian citizen.

Budlakoti’s parents were working for India’s high commissioner when he was born, and at the time were not Canadian citizens.

But the Indian government does not want Budlakoti and has refused to issue him travel documents.

Prior to being detained in an immigration holding centre, Budlakoti spent two years in prison. Before that, he worked in construction. And now, while his deportation case remains in limbo, he is unable to financially support himself.

“He doesn’t just want to sit at home idly. He wants to continue his process of rehabilitation and reintegration into Canadian society by returning to work,” said his immigration lawyer, Peter Stieda. “But ironically the federal government is hamstringing these efforts.”

That’s why his legal team recently filed a mandamus application — an official request of the government to make a decision — against Citizen and Immigration Canada.

“He put in his work permit request in mid-April,” said Stieda. “No decision has been made thus far and usually it’s a process that only takes max 60 days.”

Stieda said he can’t see a scenario where there would be any justification for the government to deny him a permit. He also said he can’t understand why the process is taking exponentially longer than normal.

“It’s shameful the way he has been treated,” he said. “Issuing him a permit is a no-brainer, period.”

Stieda said his client’s deportation case still remains uncertain and there is no timeline on when a decision might be made.