During my career I’ve dealt with a variety of cultural groups and conducted various psychological evaluations. Having a detailed and complete Psychological Report can make a big difference in how your case turns out.
Many immigrants can recognize their resilience and identify areas where they could use more emotional help and support by sharing their hardships, sorrows, and problems that they have faced. Each immigration scenario is unique, and I make every effort to address each case and each person as an individual. My goal is to create a safe environment where you can feel secure, supported, respected, and understood.
The relevance of a psychological evaluation in an immigration case is enormous. Your attorney can effectively use a comprehensive, expert evaluation conducted by a psychotherapist knowledgeable about the factors involved in extreme immigration hardships and the relevant mental health issues, as well as a thorough report, to support your case and move your immigration proceedings forward. Furthermore, having a psychological assessment eliminates the necessity to explain your current psychosocial situation to the judge. This is something that the report will take care of for you.
What Is a Psychological Evaluation?
An Immigration Psychological Evaluation is a mental assessment used to assist immigration courts in determining whether a person would be able to stay in the United States lawfully. An immigration review begins with a meeting with your attorney to obtain information about your case and any legal difficulties that may arise. The immigration evaluation consists of in-depth questionaries that are sent to you through email and that you can answer from the comfort of your own home. The questionnaire includes questions about yourself and your immigration case, as well as your personal, marital, and family history, employment history, and medical and mental history as they are relevant to the case. We’ll have a telehealth session in addition to the questionnaire. I’ll keep you updated on each phase as it becomes available. And I’ll collaborate with you and your lawyer to ensure that the report is flawless. After I’ve gathered all the necessary material, I’ll prepare a report and email it to your attorney, along with a copy to you.
What Type of Immigration Cases Benefit from A Psychological Evaluation?
Psychological Immigration Evaluations and reports are used in four major areas of immigration proceedings:
Extreme Hardship Cases
Spousal Abuse (VAWA)
Political Asylum Cases
1. EXTREME AND EXCEPTIONAL HARDSHIP
In Extreme and Exceptional Hardship cases, a citizen of the United States, or a legal permanent resident (LPR) of the United States, is the spouse, fiancée, parent, or child of an individual who could be deported from the United States. The U.S. citizen applies for a waiver on the basis that deportation would result in an extreme and exceptional hardship. The purpose of the psychological evaluation is to assess and explain the hardships that all the relevant family members would face if the waiver were not granted. The professional opinion rendered in a psychological evaluation greatly strengthens the case.
2. SPOUSAL ABUSE: VAWA
(Violence Against Women Act) Despite the name of this act, the VAWA immigration provisions benefit both women and men. In spousal abuse cases, a woman or man from a foreign country marries a citizen or a legal permanent resident (LPR) of the United States. After the marriage, the immigrant claims the presence of domestic abuse and seeks to file for legal status separately from their U.S. citizen spouse, usually because the U.S. citizen or LPR spouse does not assist his or her spouse in this process. The foreign national can file a VAWA petition even if the marriage ended in divorce if there was a connection between the divorce and domestic violence and/or abuse. The abuse can take the form of verbal, physical, sexual, and/or psychological abuse. Marital incompatibilities which cause severe strains on a marriage and, in fact, could lead to divorce, do not by themselves constitute extreme cruelty. “Extreme cruelty” includes, but is not limited to, threats of violence, forceful detention, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, rape, molestation, incest (if the victim is a minor), and forced prostitution.
The signs of abuse are not always obvious, and no one else has witnessed the abuse or the victim is too terrified to seek help. Examples of nonviolent acts that may also constitute extreme cruelty are social isolation of the victim, threats of deportation, threat of bodily harm, not allowing the victim to get a job, degrading the victim, and humiliating the victim privately and/or publically. The most important goal of VAWA is to allow you, as the victim, to sever dependency on your abusive spouse by allowing you to file for permanent residency, without your spouse’s consent, help, support, or participation of any kind. In these cases, it is important for the therapist to evaluate the scope and nature of the abuse and the emotional impact that the abuse has had on you. In the safety of the evaluation process, you can talk about the painful ordeal and its adverse impact on your life and your emotional wellbeing. This process can also be empowering and aid in the healing process.
3. U VISA
U Visa gives legal status to immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, who have been victims of serious crimes in the United States. Such crimes including, but are not limited to, sexual abuse, domestic violence, involuntary servitude, sexual exploitation, kidnapping, trafficking, and rape. With a U Visa, the immigrant may stay and work in the U.S. for up to four years. After three years, however, a victim with a U visa may apply for a green card. The goal of the psychological evaluation is to assess the extent of serious physical, mental, or emotional consequences of the experience. An applicant for a U Visa must be willing to assist the police and/or District Attorney’s Office in the investigation and/or with the prosecution of the criminal.
4. POLITICAL ASYLUM
Applicants for political asylum often have been exposed to extreme deprivation, severe abuse, and even torture in their home country. Frequently, the mistreatment is associated with a political, religious, and/or ethnic persecution. At some point, the individual flees his or her country to the United States and files a Political Asylum claim. The purpose of an immigration evaluation in asylum cases is to collect information about this mistreatment and to examine the psychological impact that these circumstances have had on the immigrant. It is most common that the individual has developed psychological problems as a result of the abuse, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), severe anxiety, and/or depression. If your immigration case involves is political asylum, it is important to assess the extent and severity of your original trauma, whether you continue to suffer from psychological symptoms after your arrival in the U.S., and how long-lasting the psychological consequences could be. In addition to the legal aid you are receiving, the immigration evaluation can help you communicate and document the mental health aspects of your case.
5. T NONIMMIGRANT STATUS
(T Visa) is set aside for those who are or have been victims of human trafficking and are willing to assist law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of acts of trafficking.