Immigrants are well aware that a single document can alter the trajectory of their lives. The appropriate visa or passport might imply new opportunities as well as the difference between safety and danger in some circumstances. A psychological assessment or evaluation is a vital document for some people in the immigration process.
In many circumstances, it can help immigration officials corroborate someone’s tale in the absence of tangible evidence and demonstrating why someone needs a new home nation; whether it’s an undocumented Honduran mother applying for asylum or a torture victim fleeing the Philippines.
“Sometimes the harm is easy to see. You can get a medical evaluation of scars or visible signs of trauma. But there are so many cases where the trauma isn’t visible,” said says Henry Hwang, Directing Attorney, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, a nonprofit organization serving immigrants in the region.
A qualified mental health professional conducts the examination, which normally takes two to four hours and results in a 12- to 15-page report — effectively a snapshot of someone’s mental health. They can greatly boost the prospects of acceptance in immigration processes, allowing immigrants and their families to remain in the United States.
There is a greater demand for professional counselors who can do the assessments than there is supply. Moreover, the reports can be excessively expensive for people who are trying to start a new life on a shoestring budget. In circumstances, where people don’t have documentation of their injury — no police report of an assault or a paper trail of their persecution – psychological evaluations are critical. They assist immigration judges in comprehending why a person would be hesitant to reply to queries about their trauma, or why their trauma may cause them to forget certain specifics.
This report may also boost their chances of establishing a life in the United States, according to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, which revealed that asylum claims with evaluations were 89 percent successful. On the other hand, the national average without evaluations was 37.5 percent. The US citizen family members are reviewed by a therapist during removal proceedings when someone is on the verge of deportation. This allows a court to comprehend how the loss of a family member may affect children and spouses emotionally and, in some situations, financially.
One of the most important side effects of an examination, however, is that immigrants can recount their stories in a safe environment and begin the process of healing. Evaluations, on the other hand, are not cheap. They can range in price from $500 to more than $2,000 for more complicated cases. It’s a lot for an immigrant who is already paying an immigration lawyer or struggling to make ends meet.
Clients are also struggling to cope with the changes caused by the pandemic. While telemedicine can save time and money by eliminating the need for patients to travel or find child care, Zoom is not as conducive to developing a trusting relationship between clients and therapists, especially when revealing unpleasant and personal information.
Some networks, such as the Mount Sinai Human Rights Program, have even tried telephonic assessments and had some effectiveness with them in remote areas. When local resources are lacking, a therapist in Colorado can now chat to an immigrant in New York, bridging the gap. Even so, recounting a traumatic experience is never easy.
The goal is to encourage parents and children to talk about their experiences and to strengthen their resilience. It’s been a difficult year for change. People who had lost family members were having financial difficulties and were generally anxious and fatigued. Mental health should be prioritized as families prepare for an epidemic winter.