Feds promise to help CFL quarterback in citizenship quest
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, April 5, 2015 2:24PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, April 5, 2015 7:46PM EDT
The Harper government has revised its immigration playbook and is pledging to help CFL quarterback Henry Burris in his quest to obtain his Canadian citizenship after all.
The Ottawa RedBlacks quarterback has lived and worked in Canada for nearly 10 years, and hopes to call the country home after he retires.
But the 39-year-old Spiro, Okla., native's application for permanent residency was rejected under Ottawa’s recently overhauled immigration policy. Permanent resident status is required to obtain Canadian citizenship.
The Express Entry program classified his CFL career as “part-time work” because the season lasts only six months, from June to November.
"Our job doesn't qualify as a full-time occupation since it's not year-round," Burris said. "But trust me, due to the fact of what we do on and off the fields, it's more than just a full-time job."
In a statement sent to CTV News Sunday, Kevin Menard -- spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander -- said the government would "work with" Burris to help him with his status.
"Mr. Burris has shown a great commitment to Canada over many years, and his community work through his foundation is an example for Canadian youth and all Canadians," Menard said. "We will work with the Ottawa RedBlacks and Mr. Burris to ensure he can remain in Canada."
The two-time Grey Cup champion says he's "pretty much Canadian now" and wants to remain in the country after his career is over. The veteran quarterback also runs The Burris Foundation, which raises money for children's charities in the Calgary area.
"This is home now. We're just trying to do what we can to make sure hopefully it doesn't get taken away," Burris told CTV News earlier this week.
Burris reached out on Twitter Sunday to show his appreciation for the support he has received in light of his bid for Canadian citizenship.
Amazing support we've received, I'd like to say thank you to our Canadian friends and family! Today is Easter, and out of due respect to— Henry Burris (@HenryBurris) April 5, 2015
The meaning of the day, my wife Nicole and my two little guys, today is a day meant to spent with family.. I owe them that! Enjoy today— Henry Burris (@HenryBurris) April 5, 2015
With family, friends, and loved ones. Make sure you count your blessings and show your thanks. Most of all, save eggs for the kids to find!— Henry Burris (@HenryBurris) April 5, 2015
The veteran quarterback has lived in Canada for almost a decade under a work permit, which expires at the end of next year’s season. He is currently in the middle of a three-year contract with the RedBlacks.
With files from Richard Madan