Current immigration law often requires a psychological evaluation in order to predict the potential hardship of incoming immigrants. This evaluation is conducted by an immigration psychologist who is asked to find any signs of emotional distress. When an immigration psychologist conducts an evaluation, they are looking to find out if an immigrant and/or their family members have any symptoms of mental illness. By making a diagnosis of a legitimate mental illness, psychologists then make recommendations on how to best accommodate an incoming immigrant. These evaluations are made in order to determine if an immigrant is mentally fit to move into the United States and live a satisfactory lifestyle. Immigrants that are diagnosed with a mental illness will be classified as those experiencing hardship. As a result, immigration officials then need to take more steps to make a decision on whether to admit the immigrant or have them deported.
CATEGORIES OF PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESMENT
Whenever an immigrant comes to the United States and is interviewed by a hardship evaluation psychologist, they are assessed under four main categories. These categories help determine the reason for someone coming to the United States and if they qualify for immigration. As of today, the four main classifications of the immigrant psychological assessment include political asylum, domestic abuse, cognitive impairment or the DACA Act. It is up to the hardship evaluation psychologist to determine an immigrant’s reason for coming into the United States and then relay this information to federal immigration officials.
• Political Asylum
One of the categories that immigration psychologists use to classify immigrants is their political status. Many immigrants are leaving their former country to seek asylum in the United States. They are looking to get away from political persecution, imprisonment or death threats. A psychologist will usually ask questions such as why they are moving to the United States and who has threatened the immigrant. During this part of the evaluation, the immigrant will usually need to prove that their lives are in danger and that they need to stay in America to avoid their potential death or imprisonment.
• Domestic Abuse
Another common reason why immigrants move to the United States is domestic abuse. There are many immigrants who were abused by a spouse and are looking to leave their home country in order to get away from this situation. An immigrant psychologist asks questions about the domestic abuse and also looks for evidence of abuse. Once a psychologist declares the immigrant is coming to America to flee domestic abuse, their case is then considered by immigration officials.
• Cognitive Impairment
Some immigrants come to the United States with either mental illness or disability. With mental illness, these immigrants often have conditions such as depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress or schizophrenia. A psychologist will interview the immigrant and make a diagnosis based on the answers. For those who are disabled, a psychologist will look for signs of an immigrant’s ability to talk, think and perform basic tasks. Depending on the whether an immigrant is mentally disabled or is suffering from a condition, their case will be considered for hardship.
• DACA Act
There are also quite a few immigrants who are coming to the United States to seek an education and employment opportunities. Several years ago, the DACA Act was passed which gave first generation immigrants authorization to live and work in the United States.
GETTING ADMITTED TO THE U.S. VIA HARDSHIP
Immigrants that complete the psychological evaluation will often qualify for a hardship case. This is a situation where an immigrant is able to prove that moving to the United States is necessary for them to improve their quality of life. A hardship case is also made in order to allow them to stay in the country to get better healthcare so that they can improve their overall health. With a psychological evaluation, immigrants can work with a trusted professional to help strengthen their immigration case.