Can I have my refugee claim joined and heard at the same hearing as someone else?
Usually, when families arrive in Canada and make refugee claims together, their claims are automatically joined. “Joined” means that a date will be set for one hearing so the Refugee Board can look at all the claims together. This is because it is more efficient to hear refugee claims that are based on the same facts at the same time.
If another family member arrives in Canada later, they can apply to have their refugee claim joined to the rest of the family. This is only possible if the refugee hearing hasn't started yet.
When a family's refugee claims are joined, the Refugee Board usually sees one claimant as the “Principal Claimant”. The Principal Claimant is the person who describes the main experiences and fears that show they meet the definition of a or . This is done by completing a Basis of Claim (BOC) form.
Other family members usually base their refugee claim on the Principal Claimant's experiences and fears. Family members might also have other reasons that they are afraid to go back to their home country based on their age, gender, or personal experiences.
Each family member, including children, must complete their own BOC. Each claimant will get their own decision.
Sometimes refugee claimants who are not related but who rely on the same set of facts can apply to the Refugee Board to have their claims joined. For example, this can happen if co-workers experienced persecution by their employer for the same reason, or if a group of journalists worked together to reveal government corruption.
Whether refugee claims are joined depends on several factors. The Refugee Board will look at whether it is more efficient to join the claims, or if it would be unfair to refuse to join the claims.
If you want to join your claim to a family member or someone whose refugee claim is based on the same facts, it's important to get legal advice.