What do you want to learn more about?
There are many different immigration cases handled by attorneys ranging from citizenship exam waivers, cases for asylum, and more. Each of these will have a corresponding type of evaluation that you may be able to offer to support a client with their case.
What are the different types of immigration evaluations?
I think of immigration evaluations according to three categories:
- Citizenship exam waivers
These evaluations take the form of an N-648 waiver. This waiver supports a client’s request for exemption from the English and civics portions of the citizenship exam based on their having a disability.
- Extreme Hardship and Cancellation of Removal waivers
In Extreme Hardship cases, a citizen or legal permanent resident (LPR) of the United States is the spouse, fiancée, parent, or child of an individual who may not be permitted to remain in the U.S. These evaluations report on how the citizen or LPR would be affected if their immigrant family member were to be deported.
- Cases involving trauma (e.g., political asylum cases)
In these types of cases, you are meeting with someone who has undergone a traumatic event — either in the U.S. or their home country — and evaluating how the trauma has affected the individual.
Do I need to offer them all?
No, you do not need to offer all forms of immigration evaluations. While some therapists provide all types of evaluations, the evaluations you choose to provide should depend mainly on your interests, qualifications, and clinical expertise.
Which immigration evaluations should I offer?
When deciding which types of immigration evaluations to offer, you should first consider your qualifications. While a trained Master’s level clinician can complete most evaluations, note that only medical doctors or clinical psychologists with a doctoral degree can complete an N-648 waiver.
After considering your qualifications, you should next consider your interests and clinical expertise. If your clinical interest is related to families, then Extreme Hardship Waiver evaluations and Cancellation of Removal evaluations are probably most likely to interest you. These types of evaluations are very family-centered, exploring not only the structure of the family but also the role that each family member plays. When conducting the evaluation, you will get the opportunity to evaluate the strengths of a family and its connections.
If your clinical interests and experience are in trauma, then you might be most interested in the relevant types of evaluation where clients have undergone trauma. These cases can take one of several forms:
- Asylum cases — In these cases, clients have been exposed to extreme abuse, mistreatment, or deprivation in their home country, usually based on their religion, ethnicity, or politics.
- Spousal Abuse/Violence Against Woman Act (VAWA) — In these cases, an immigrant client (of any gender) has married a U.S. citizen or LPR and later seeks legal status separate from their spouse due to the presence of domestic abuse.
- U & T Visas — In these cases, an immigrant has been the victim of serious crimes within the U.S. (e.g., trafficking, sexual abuse) and is seeking eligibility to stay and work in the U.S. for up to four years.
In these types of cases, you are meeting with someone who has undergone a traumatic event and evaluating how the trauma has affected them. While training can efficiently teach you how to conduct these evaluations, I highly recommend having a background in trauma if you are interested in any of these trauma-related evaluations.
Although you will not be doing therapy with the client, it is likely your client will experience difficulty, pain, and may decompensate or dissociate while revisiting their trauma. If this happens, you may find it difficult to assist your client when they are having a dissociative episode or being flooded by memories of past trauma if you do not have sufficient experience working with trauma.
Lastly, it is essential to ask yourself: What types of cases do I enjoy working with? Likewise, which cases do you find less enjoyable? Take some time to identify which cases you feel most drawn to, assess whether you have the necessary clinical experience, and then commence training in that type. You can jump in and learn how to do several types at once or take it slower and master one type before adding another evaluation to your skillset.
Having a properly prepared immigration evaluation report can make a substantial difference in the outcome of a client’s case. Likewise, having the opportunity to sit down and discuss stressors or trauma may be the first step toward healing. So, after you’ve completed your immigration evaluation training, be sure to approach each case with a focus on your client’s individual challenges and strengths.
P.S. For more information on immigration evaluation training, be sure to sign up for my Quickstart Guide to Immigration Evaluations.
I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 300 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in the various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.
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