Psychological Immigration Assessments Can Provide Key Supporting Information Regarding Legal Status To Remain in the United States.
What Is an Immigration Psychological Evaluation?
An Immigration Psychological Evaluation, (or Clinical Immigration Assessment), is a comprehensive report prepared by an independently licensed mental health professional. This mental health evaluation is used by immigration attorneys to strengthen their clients’ case to reside lawfully in the United States. The immigration evaluation documents provide relevant information regarding a person’s mental health and social history.
Advantages of a Professional Clinical Immigration Assessment
Not all mental health professionals are trained in writing thorough assessments to document mental health history. Not all have experience working with diverse cultural populations or are trained in treating and evaluating trauma. As a licensed clinical social worker, I have documented a detailed biopsychosocial assessment for every client. I have completed hundreds of such assessments over several years. In addition, I have extensive and specific training in a number of trauma related modalities that include EMDR, Accelerated Resolution Therapy and Brainspotting.
What to Expect
The key elements of an immigration assessment generally involve the following:
- Free initial fifteen minute consult to gauge your needs and, as appropriate, schedule the clinical interview. If you do not have an attorney, I can recommend local low fee/free legal resources, if needed.
- Consultation with your attorney to determine the key issues regarding your case, the type of waiver that fits your circumstances and factors that may impact proceeding with the immigration evaluation.
- A review of any relevant documentation (such as medical records) to better understand your psychological and emotional functioning in addition to any other relevant factors.
- I will meet you twice for 1 to 1.5 hours each session to conduct a clinical interview and administer any screening questionnaires to help evaluate and assess for mental health diagnoses.
- After our meeting, I will provide you and your attorney a comprehensive report 15 to 25 page report detailing support for your immigration case based on our in depth clinical interviews.
Below, I highlight additional benefits to working with me:
Experience working with diverse populations: I am an expert regarding racial and intergenerational trauma with decades of awarded community work working with racially diverse populations.
Expert Testimony: In addition, as a former practicing attorney, I understand the legal demands requiring precise and objective language. This allows me to provide strong clinical material that reflects understanding of the key legal issues involved in immigration cases. I have extensive experience writing for non-clinical audiences that need detailed, but easy to understand reports. Immigration reports need to be persuasive while remaining objective.
Immigration Evaluation Training: I also have specific and extensive training in immigration evaluations. A well-crafted Psychological Immigration Evaluation must reflect understanding of key legal aspects of the specific immigration case and address the unique challenges of any particular case. In this regard, it goes beyond a regular mental health assessment conducted as a routine part of clinical practice. An immigration psychological evaluation therapist has additional training and expertise beyond their clinical experience to understand the interconnection of mental health and the law.
Direct experience working with immigrants, asylees and refugees: I also have direct experience working at Catholic Charities Community Services providing direct services to refugees, immigrants and asylees who seek residence in the United States or need assistance relocating. Catholic Charities Community Services is a national leader in the effective, compassionate resettlement of thousands of refugees and other vulnerable immigrants who have fled their countries to escape persecution.
I have lived experience growing up in a country with sustained political upheaval, economic instability, natural disasters and fluctuating personal freedoms. The United States is my fifth country of residence. I understand the impact of living in vastly different cultural contexts with differing social, political and economic realities and how, among other things, that can affect identity, relationships and resilience.
Most frequent questions and answers relating to Immigration Assessments
I only provide evaluations for those represented by an attorney. As a therapist who is also a J.D., it is important that all prospective clients understand that I am not providing any legal services and that I am only providing a mental health evaluation. If you do not have an attorney, I can provide some referrals and I encourage you to have your attorney contact me once you are represented so that I can understand the needs of your case for an evaluation.
A mental health evaluation is used in certain immigration cases (e.g. Asylum, hardship waiver, u-visa, VAWA applications) where there is a need to document psychological harm or sustained abuse to support your case. It is not required as a matter of course for all citizenship/immigration cases if an evaluation of mental health issues is not needed. An immigration attorney makes the legal determination regarding the necessity of such an evaluation.
You should bring a copy of any documentation that supports your immigration case to your clinical interview. While a letter from a current (or past therapist), might be helpful, it is not the same thing as an immigration psychological evaluation which needs to address legal issues that pertain to particular immigration applications written for a legal audience.
Typically 10 to 15 business days from the date of the clinical interview. Expedited reports can be provided within 5 business days for an additional fee.
To maintain the objectivity of the clinical report, I do not provide therapy to clients needing an immigration evaluation. In cases where I provide a clinical immigration assessment for a client, I will provide a referral if there is an interest in therapy.
There is a flat fee of $1000 for an immigration evaluation. This includes the clinical interview, review of any pertinent documentation and the comprehensive report that I send to your attorney. The fee does not include my hourly rate if I am asked to testify in immigration court.
The first step towards an evaluation is contact by the attorney. If you are an attorney, please contact me to schedule and introduce me to your case. If you are a potential client, please have your attorney contact me.