Can I separate my refugee claim from my family?
Question & AnswerCan I separate my refugee claim from my family?
If you claim refugee protection with your family, either you or your spouse or common-law partner must complete a Basis of Claim (BOC) form as the Principal Claimant.
The Principal Claimant is the person who describes their experiences and fears to show that they meet the definition of a or .
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. For example, young girls might fear forced marriage.
Each family member, including children, must complete their own BOC. Each claimant will get their own decision.
Spouses or partners separate
Sometimes it's necessary to separate refugee claims. This can happen when spouses or common-law partners separate, or there has been domestic violence within a family. Domestic violence can happen between spouses, between parents and children, or between siblings.
If you and your spouse or common-law partner separate before your refugee hearing, your lawyer can apply to the Refugee Board to separate your claims.
If there are children, you will have to decide whether your children's refugee claims are heard with your refugee claim or your spouse's claim.
In most cases you will also have to update your BOC to show that you're claiming refugee status separately from your family. You must describe the reasons you're afraid to go back to your home country, if there are fears that you didn't mention previously. For example, if you're afraid of your former spouse now that you've separated, then you need to explain why you're afraid.
Conflict of interest
There are other reasons that refugee claims might be separated. This can happen if one claimant doesn't want the other claimant to know something about their claim. For example:
- a child may not want their parent to know about their sexual orientation
- one family member may not want others to know that they have changed their religion
- one family member may not want others to know that they have an illness
If one lawyer is representing two or more claimants, they can't hide information from any of the claimants. Otherwise this creates a conflict of interest. The lawyer will have to apply to the Refugee Board to separate the refugee claims.
Get legal help
If your refugee claim is separated from the Principal Claimant's claim, it's important to get legal advice. A lawyer can review your refugee claim including any fears you have of returning to your home country because of your relationship to the Principal Claimant.