Our practice specializes in providing immigration evaluations for legal cases related to immigration matters. Our team has provided immigration evaluations for various matters listed and explained below, including those before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Extreme and Exceptional Hardship/Waivers
- Spousal Abuse – Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
- Political Asylum
- U Visas
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 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.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
VAWA Evaluations are used in cases where a person immigrates to the United States (often under a fiancee visa) and marries an American citizen. It can happen that this relationship becomes abusive, with the American citizen as the abuser and the immigrant spouse as the victim. Often, the abuser will threaten the victim with deportation to keep her/him silent about the abuse. When this happens, the victim can leave their abuser and petition US Immigration to be allowed to stay in the United States and eventually receive a Green Card (permanent resident status) by proving that they are being abused by their American husband/wife.
If you already have an immigration attorney for your VAWA petition, we will be happy to work with your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, we can refer you to an attorney who is experienced with VAWA petitions.
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.
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 has to be willing to assist the police and/or District Attorney’s Office in the investigation and/or with the prosecution of the criminal.
What I need to know about immigration psychological evaluations?
The immigration evaluation process requires 2 visits (2 hours each) and is as follows:
- The assessing Clinician will consult with your attorney as well as other pertinent sources and review pertinent medical, mental health, legal, and academic records.
- Data gathered by the assessing Clinician is compiled into a detailed report which usually requires at least two weeks or more for completion.
- The final comprehensive evaluation includes:
- A review of personal, family and background information
- A review of medical/psychiatric conditions and medications
- The current status of the individual assessed
- Hardship factors
- The results of a mental status examination and scales
- A DSM-V diagnosis
- A summary
- A review of scientific research findings related to each case (e.g., effects of children being separated from their father or mother)
What do I need to do prior to my Evaluation?
Below you will find a step-by-step to-do list if you or your attorney are seeking an evaluation. Below will help you know what to expect from the evaluation process.
1. Set up an appointment.
- Schedule 2 visits lasting 2 hours each
- Immigration evaluation interviews are usually completed in 2 visits.
2. Sign the “Release of Information” forms
- This will allow the assessing Clinician to discuss your situation with anyone who could be helpful in establishing your case (attorney, physician, school teacher, etc.).
- Please bring business card/contact information for anyone you would like the assessing Clinician to contact to discuss your case.
3. Create a list of important dates
- Include births, engagements, marriages, separation, divorce, U.S. residency, U.S. naturalization.
4. Provide medical records for all family members
- Include any medications all family members are currently taking.
5. Provide school records for all the children in the family (special education, any testing, behavioral plans, etc.).
6. Provide marriage/divorce court records
- Include marriage certificates, divorce decrees, and additional court documents
7. Provide criminal record detailing your criminal history where applicable.
8. Provide all immigration documents you have received from USCIS (letters, denial letters, forms).
It is important that you understand the following in advance: immigration evaluations are conducted by an independent provider. Obtaining an immigration evaluation does not guarantee a favorable outcome for your case.
We welcome in-state Clients in person and out-of-state Clients virtually if needed. [link to Telehub – to be provided]