Why Do Many Refugees Have A Birthday On January

By Pace Law | December 30, 2016

january 1stjanuary 1stDid you know that some refugees who obtain permanent residency in Canada share the same birthday? It may seem strange, but refugees and asylum seekers who do not know their birthdate or are unable to prove it are often given “January 1” as their date of birth for all official documents, including their permanent residency card. This story from the Globe and Mail highlights the issue:

Jan. 1 is Mohamed Abdulmunem’s birthday. His wife Dima’s, too. Same for his two eldest children, Abdulkerim and Lim.

A week before the big day, they had already planned the menu for the celebration in their apartment in Mississauga – favourites from their native Syria, including kibbeh (meat croquettes), chicken and peas and a spread of 16 desserts such as chocolate biscuits and cake.

This is the first time the Abdulmunems will celebrate their matching birthdays together – and, they hope, the last.

Not one of them was actually born on Jan. 1. The were assigned the identical dates of birth after they fled their town of Jisr al-Shughur in northwestern Syria and registered as refugees in Turkey in 2014. When they arrived in Canada in September, the dates on their papers from Turkey were carried over to all the forms they filled out in their new home.

For some people, the idea of being given a birthdate of January 1st is a trivial matter. But as the story notes, if your birthdate in Canada does not match your birthdate on foreign documents, it can raise complications down the road, especially if you want to travel back to your home country or apply for a passport from there. If you’re having difficulty, contact a licensed immigration consultant or immigration lawyer and they should be able to assist you.