Psychological evaluations are required in immigration court to assess extreme hardship. They are needed when a family member is experiencing psychological trauma when a loved one has to leave the country due to problems with legal status. The psychological assessment helps the court understand the negative consequences of splitting families. Consequences may be emotional, physical, educational, financial, and social,
Toobtain a assessment, clients and their attorneys need to understand some key issues that are not often clear. Not all mental health professionals are qualified to conduct psychological evaluations for immigration courts. Many families in urgent distress have lost time and many working with well-meaning professionals who do not understand the issues at hand and who are not qualified to produce a report that the courts will accept.
1) The courts require assessments by a doctoral level, licensed psychologist. Psychology licenses are governed by state law. The clinician must be licensed in the state where the evaluation is conducted. Not all licensed licensed mental health professionals are psychologists and not all people with doctoral degrees are licensed psychologists. Many counselors (LPC, MSW, LCSW, LMFT, etc) can do a psychosocial assessment, but that is not what the court requires. Psychological evaluations are different from psychosocial assessments. You can verify whether someone is a licensed psychologist in Texas here: Texas Board of Examiners of Psychologists. Other states will have similar resources.
2) The psychological evaluation is best conducted by a psychologist who speaks the language of the client. The use of a translator is a second-best solution only if a better option is not available. A licensed psychologist who speaks the language of the client is better able to capture the emotional state of the client, and can provide a better, more credible assessment.
3) The psychological evaluation should include a clinical interview and psychological tests to objectively assess the person. The tests should be administered in the native language of the client. Only licensed psychologists are qualified and licensed to administer, interpret, and write up the results of psychological assessments.
Dr. Jesus Aranda is a native Spanish-speakr with extensive experience with psychological assessment and immigration. He is fully fluent in Spanish and English. If you need a psychological evaluation for an immigration problem, please call for an appointment at (210) 699-8700.
This article is intended to inform the public on the present issues, and in no manner or form represents legal advice