Under certain circumstances, an individual may be eligible for legal permanent residence in the U.S. or a green card status based on their family ties and/or employment history. The process of obtaining these types of visas can take years and requires extensive documentation from both applicants and sponsors. In some situations that meet various criteria, it's helpful to seek out an expert evaluation to support your application for extreme and exceptional hardship. And if you're looking for an immigration hardship evaluation in Chicago, you've come to the right place.
At Wellington Counseling Group, we perform forensic psychological evaluations to support legal claims and help to advise courts in carrying out the law in the most informed way. As such, we're leveraging our past experiences and clinical knowledge for your benefit.
In this blog, we'll break down the key facts that you need to know about those evaluations for extreme hardship immigration cases.
What Is Extreme or Exceptional Hardship?
Immigrating to the U.S. isn't always simple, even under normal circumstances. But certain situations may add extra challenges to the process of establishing residency, and potentially, citizenship. And many of those situations can be eased through a waiver program in the law known as "exceptional or extreme hardship."
Extreme hardship can be defined as "hardship that is greater than what your relative would experience under normal circumstances if you were not allowed to come to or stay in the U.S.," (Nolo). Essentially, you need to prove that there is something extra at play that amplifies the hardship to a spouse or relative, already having legal status in the U.S.
Unfortunately, there is no specific U.S. law that defines what constitutes a "normal" hardship and what an "extreme" hardship is. This places greater emphasis on the evidence that is submitted with each extreme hardship waiver application. And that's where a psychological immigration hardship evaluation can come into play.
What Is a Hardship Evaluation?
A hardship evaluation is a psychological assessment conducted and drafted by a mental health professional concerning a pending immigration case. This report helps immigration courts determine whether an individual will be able to remain lawfully in the United States based on the hardship it would cause to a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident relative of the undocumented person.
That hardship evaluation aims to provide accurate information regarding the applicant’s current state of mind. It is designed to check for and expertly describe any signs of emotional distress and underlying mental illnesses. It also provides insight into how the applicant has dealt with similar hardships throughout their life and how that bears on their future.
Who Can Conduct Psychological Hardship Evaluations?
Only psychologists and other qualified mental health providers with training and experience in forensic assessments. These examiners are trained professionals who specialize in conducting these types of assessments. They're well equipped to evaluate someone's emotions and behavior when it comes to stressful events and traumas in one's past.
The Hardship Evaluation Process
During a hardship evaluation, the forensic psychologist will interview you in regards to your personal history and your present relationship to the undocumented person who may be a spouse, child, or another family member. You can expect open-ended questions like:
- Have you suffered any psychological injury because of this situation?
- Have you been experiencing intense feelings of anxiety or depression due to your familial separation?
- Have you received any counseling or psychological therapy as a result of the incident(s) that have occurred?
- How has the victimization from this event affected your emotional health?
A typical hardship evaluation will last anywhere between 1 to 2 hours, depending on the complexity of the case. Your evaluator may ask additional open-ended questions and will close out the evaluation with various tests to assess your stress and anxiety.
Afterward, your mental health professional will begin the process of scoring any psychological tests and synthesizing the interview data with those results. They may contact you again for clarifications too. Then they will draft a comprehensive report detailing all their findings. These reports are then sent to your attorney for use in your filing with the U.S. government and may also be used during hearings before immigration judges.
Get Started On Your Immigration Hardship Evaluation In Chicago
Wellington Counseling Group was founded by our clinical psychologist: Dr. David Rakofsky. He regularly performs forensic psychological evaluations in state and federal cases with people living in the Midwest and from across the nation. Dr. Rakofsky has many years of experience working with both immigration and civil rights attorneys and he has become widely respected for his assessments and court testimony before judges and juries, alike.
If you are in need of an immigration hardship evaluation in Chicago, contact Wellington Counseling Group today!