U.S. Psychological Hardship Evaluation for Immigrants

July 16, 2020
Anna Jankowska, LCPC

By Anna Jankowska, MA, CEAP, SAP, LCPC

Anna Jankowska is a mental health, addiction, and substance abuse counselor with over 17 years of experience and has specialized training and skill in working with individuals, groups and communities to improve mental health outcomes. NPI number: 1598843526

Immigrants living within the United States often wish to stay in the country. More often than not, leaving the U.S. would constitute a hardship for both the immigrant and for their family member/s. However, in order for the immigrant to remain in the U.S. an extreme hardship must be proven. A trained immigration psychologist can help with that step. It is important to note that what an individual may deem as an extreme hardship is not necessarily what the immigration judge may deem as such. For example, adjusting to a new life in the immigrant’s home country may feel difficult, but would not necessarily constitute enough of a hardship for the immigrant to stay in the U.S., nor would family separation. Although family separation my feel hard for the individuals involved, a spouse who is forced to leave their qualifying husband/wife behind when they are not able to stay in the country may not be enough of a reason for the immigrant to be granted an immigration waiver or citizenship.

So, what constitutes extreme hardship? A psychological hardship evaluation may show that the U.S. citizen’s family member/s would suffer beyond what would normally be experienced if their immigrant family member were deported. An example of this would be that the immigrant’s children were evaluated and found to be in danger of separation anxiety if their non-citizen parents were deported. Again, an immigration psychologist can determine if this situation pertains to the individual/s. Extreme hardship can also occur if the country of relocation has deteriorating conditions, which include civil unrest, sanctions, travel warnings, or geographic catastrophes. However, cumulative factors are the best way to help immigrants stay in the U.S.

Although the previously mentioned circumstances may not keep an immigrant in the country, an individual with all three circumstances could be shown to have extreme hardship. Psychological hardship evaluations can help prove one or more deleterious factors will exist in either the immigrant or in their qualifying family member/s lives if the immigrant should be deported. Applicable psychological factors include extreme anxiety on the part of the qualifying relative of the immigrant due to either separation or the suffering of the immigrant. Another psychological factor could be an already-diagnosed condition of the qualifying relative that would be exacerbated if the immigrant left the country. An immigration psychologist can also diagnose the immigrant for psychological maladies that occurred from fleeing their country of origin. It could be proven that returning to their home country would cause major psychological distress for the immigrant.

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Obtaining a medical examination can add credence to the fact the immigrant should stay in the U.S. Although facing deportation can be scary, it does not have to be. A trained immigration psychologist will know all the questions to ask of the immigrant and their family members. The psychologist will then submit a report that can be used in court to aid the judge in deciding the fate of the immigrant. With the psychological hardship evaluation, the immigrant can feel more secure that they have the law on their side.

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