Psychological Evaluations for Immigration Proceedings | For Attorneys

Psychologist and Attorney

What is a psychological evaluation for immigration based on extreme hardship and asylum?

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services Department (USCIS) states that people may apply for asylum when they are persecuted or risk being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, affiliation with a particular group, or political beliefs. People who have endured great hardship may also submit petitions for asylum with the USCIS. This adversity may result from interpersonal violence, people trafficking, political oppression or violence, forced labor, or any of these. You’ll probably need to get a psychological evaluation if you want to be able to lawfully immigrate as an asylum seeker, get authorization to work, and get access to the healthcare you need.

Who Should Be the Subject of a Psychological Assessment for Immigration?

Most asylum and hardship immigration claims demand psychological assessments. Your attorney will probably recommend that you, your spouse, and/or your family participate in these evaluations. You will be accepted as an asylum seeker by the USCIS if your psychological examination is used as proof of the suffering and/or persecution you have endured. These reports are detailed documents of 10 to 15 pages that your attorney can utilize to support your case in court. 90% of individuals who undergo a psychological evaluation as part of their asylum application are approved, despite the fact that only 30% of asylum seekers overall have their applications granted. You can significantly enhance your legal knowledge in just a few hours.


What Sort of Testing Is Done?

Your clinical interview with Dr. Benejam will make up the majority of your psychological examination. Although some patients find this interview daunting, you should just regard it as a casual conversation with a kind professional. We may need to visit with you over the course of three or more one-hour appointments in order to collect the information we need to give USCIS and your legal counsel. The complexity of your case will truly determine how many meetings you need. We’ll want to spend some time talking about any prior trauma because you’re applying for hardship immigration or asylum.

Studies have shown how useful psychological assessments may be in immigration issues.
For instance, in a survey of asylum seekers, 89% of those who obtained medical evaluations from Physicians for Human Rights were given asylum, as opposed to the national average of US asylum seekers who did not receive PHR exams, which was 37.5%. (Asylum Grant Rates Following Medical Evaluations of Maltreatment among Political Asylum Applicants in the United States).

In a different study, it was discovered that clients whose appeals had expert psychological testimony from a mental health professional had a much higher chance of succeeding than those whose appeals did not (Demonstrating Psychological Hardship: A Statistical Study of Psychological Evaluations in Hardship Waivers of Inadmissibility.)


How Dr. Benejam can Help Your Client

Prior to the evaluation of your client, you’ll need to provide Dr. Benejam with a copy of your client’s previous medical records, and any other pertinent material before Dr. Benejam evaluates your client.

The evaluator will create a report to submit to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Executive Office for Immigration Review if they find physical or psychological evidence that supports your client’s claims of torture or persecution (EOIR). To ensure that any concerns or queries are promptly handled, it is crucial to be in close contact with the healthcare provider.

How might a forensic psychologist help me with my legal work?

In order to perform the task of examining people facing criminal charges with regard to psychological, behavioral, or cognitive disorders connected to the charges, a counsel or the court system may employ forensic psychologists. Whenever possible, the lawyer should ask a follow-up question, such as “Is the examinee fit to stand trial, does the examinee grasp the legal charges?” or “Is this person prone to recidivate?” To explore the need for an examination in relation to a civil matter, people can also get in touch with a psychologist directly.

An individual’s behavior, emotional state, cognitive functioning (such as memory or attention deficit disorder), mitigating circumstances, probation, or sentence may all be addressed during a mental status examination. These assessments are routinely carried out with the aim of assisting the trier of fact in better understanding psychological functioning in relation to legal accusations and are particularly helpful in criminal contexts. Examples include DUI arrests (addiction disorders), sexual offenses (recidivism), and psycho-diagnostic assessments of parental fitness in child protection cases. However, mental health assessments can also be utilized to answer issues in civil contexts, including the workplace (sexual harassment, cyber technology violations). A full evaluation should include observation, targeted inquiry, taking a history, and psychological testing that may involve ability, and personality assessments customized to address the referral questions.

It’s acknowledged that some diagnoses, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can be overreported. When used in conjunction with other measurements and a healthy dose of clinical knowledge, specially created psychological tests can be used to determine the validity of such diagnoses or the degree to which symptoms may be exaggerated as a result of outside influences. In order to provide an objective evaluation that would be challenging for the “treating psychologist” and should instead be conducted by a professional who has no allegiance to the client and can produce a more objective final product. Psychological claims can be more difficult to prove than physical injuries and are more susceptible to feigning or malingering.

It is well known that a protracted and stressful legal battle can lead to other issues, such as financial hardship, marital stress, employment issues, and the various aftereffects that frequently follow these situations, such as resentment, the escalation of health issues (such as chronic pain, depression), and occasionally secondary gain. Through expertly crafted psycho-diagnostic assessments, all of these elements can be assessed and presented. Following the submission of an evaluation, expert witness testimony may be useful in court to further explain the report’s occasionally complex facts and to address queries regarding choices that will need to be made about the matter at hand.

The purpose of this article is to enlighten practicing attorneys about the additional ways in which the legal system might benefit from psychologists’ expertise beyond basic recommendations for the treatment of psychiatric problems. The following specialization areas were chosen: employment law and personal injury. Psychologists are highly qualified to evaluate human behavior and the variables that affect it, such as motivation, intelligence, and personality, due to the distinctive nature of the scientist-practitioner training they received and their proficiency in such techniques as psychological testing, clinical interviewing, and report-writing. The court system can benefit greatly from the assistance of forensically educated psychologists by having a greater understanding of psychological and cognitive aspects pertinent to both criminal and civil legal processes.


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Dr. Benejam will evaluate your client’s situation in detail and help you achieve victory!