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Psychological Evaluations in Immigration Cases: What to Know


What Is an Immigration Evaluation?

An immigration evaluation, also called a psychological or hardship evaluation, is conducted by a licensed professional to assess the mental health of a person involved in immigration cases. These evaluations can be performed by social workers, mental health counselors, or psychologists.

Purpose of Immigration Evaluations

These evaluations are used to support immigration cases by helping to demonstrate extreme hardship or the emotional impact of being a crime victim, providing crucial evidence in legal proceedings.

Types of Immigration Evaluations

Mental health and psychological evaluations are used in various types of immigration cases. Here are some of the most common:

U-Visa: The U-Visa grants undocumented immigrants who have been victims of serious crimes the right to live in the United States. Psychological evaluations can help U-Visa petitioners prove the mental and emotional consequences of the crime.

T-Visa: The T-Visa grants victims of human trafficking the right to live and work in the U.S. A psychological evaluation can help an immigration court understand how human trafficking emotionally affected the petitioner.

Asylum: Political asylum is granted to undocumented immigrants forced to flee their country as political refugees. Immigration mental health evaluations can help asylum seekers present evidence of persecution in their home country.

Spousal Abuse (VAWA): This petition allows spouses and children who are victims of domestic violence to obtain a green card. A mental health evaluation can help document the consequences of the abuse, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related issues.

Extreme Hardship: Psychological evaluations can be used to demonstrate that deportation would cause extreme hardship to qualifying family members, such as U.S. citizen children.

Differences Between Psychological and Mental Health Evaluations

While often seen as similar, there are differences. Psychological evaluations can include neurological tests, useful for diagnosing conditions like autism or cognitive delays. Mental health evaluations, conducted by counselors, focus more on trauma and emotional hardships, diagnosing issues such as depression and anxiety.

Choosing the Right Therapist

When selecting a therapist for an immigration evaluation, it is crucial to choose someone experienced in psychological and mental health assessments, who speaks the client’s language, and has experience with diverse cultures and trauma.


Immigration evaluations are essential for various types of petitions, and it is important to navigate this process with the guidance of a legal representative to achieve the best possible outcome.


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