Our offices conduct clinical evaluations for the following types of immigration waivers:
Extreme / Exceptional Hardship
In this type of immigration waiver the legal US citizen (spouse, fiancée, parent, child or ‘green card’ holder) would suffer ‘exceptional hardship’ if you had to return to your home country for two years, OR if the legal U.S. citizen left the U.S. to stay with you in your country. Other viable types of exceptional hardship can be psychological, social, cultural, economic, educational, career-related, political, religious, or due to compulsory military service, or medical. Or there may be a business in the U.S. that would fail if you were not present, or your dependent family might not be able to pursue their profession if they were to follow you home.
Clinical Evaluation Goal: The purpose of the psychological evaluation is to assess and understand any and all hardships that any and all relevant family members would face if the waiver were not granted. Specifically, the information obtained in this evaluation is used to answer two main questions:
- Would deportation of the immigrant pose an extreme and unusual hardship to the relative in question?
- Would it be an extreme and unusual hardship for the lawful-resident relative to accompany the immigrant back to his or her home country in case they are deported?
The professional opinion rendered in a psychological evaluation greatly strengthens the case, and without it, the applicant would have to explain the hardship in his or her own words.
Spousal Abuse: VAWA (Violence Against Women Act)
Despite the name of this act, the VAWA type of immigration waiver includes women and men. In spousal abuse cases, a person from a foreign country is married to a citizen or a legal permanent U.S. resident. After the marriage, the immigrant claims domestic abuse and seeks to file for legal status separately from their U.S. citizen spouse, usually because the U.S. citizen doesn’t wish to assist his/her spouse in this process. Even if the marriage ends in divorce, a VAWA petition can be filed, as long as there was a connection between the divorce and domestic violence and/or abuse. The abuse can take a variety of forms and must constitute extreme cruelty. “Extreme cruelty” includes, but is not limited to, verbal threats of violence, forceful detention, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, rape, molestation, incest (if the victim is a minor), and forced prostitution.
Clinical Evaluation Goal: In these cases, it is important for the therapist to evaluate the scope and nature of the abuse, the practical ramifications, 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 well-being. This process can be of tremendous help in empowering the victims and promote the healing process far beyond the resolution of their immigration case.
U visa type of immigration waiver gives legal status to immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, who have been victims of serious crimes in the United States. Examples of some of these crimes include, 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.
Clinical Evaluation Goal: 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.
T visa is a visa that may be issued to victims of severe forms of human trafficking, sex trade, or forced labor, who are present in the U.S. by way of such trafficking.
Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to compel individuals to provide labor or services, including commercial sex. Traffickers often take advantage of vulnerable individuals, including those lacking lawful immigration status. T visas offer protection to victims and strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute human trafficking.
Under federal law, a ”severe form of trafficking“ is:
- Sex trafficking: When someone recruits, harbors, transports, provides, solicits, patronizes, or obtains a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, where the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or the person being induced to perform such act is under 18 years of age; or
- Labor trafficking: When someone recruits, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains a person for labor or services through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
Clinical Evaluation Goal: 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 T 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.
Applicants petitioning for political asylum type of immigration waiver often have been exposed to extreme deprivation, severe abuse, and possibly even torture in their home country. Frequently, these mistreatments are related to a political, religious, and/or ethnic persecution. Living your life in your home country becomes sufficiently intolerable or painful, that the individual flees his or her country to the United States and files a political asylum claim.
Clinical Evaluation Goal: 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 ramifications could be.
In addition to the legal aid you are receiving, an immigration evaluation therapist can help you communicate and document the mental health aspects of your case.