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Offering Immigration Evaluations? 7 Critical Mistakes You Might Be Making
If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know I always like to focus on the positives and opportunities of offering immigration evaluations.
Why? Because I know how vital this work is and how much value it can bring – to professionals and clients.
Which is why I find myself getting disheartened when I see individuals who’ve decided to offer immigration evaluations making the same mistakes. Yes, most mistakes offer us the chance for some deep personal and professional growth – but some of them are just totally avoidable!
7 Mistakes to Avoid When Offering Immigration Evaluations
I field daily queries via email and DMs. Many are genuine queries about the institute or individuals seeking advice about more nuanced immigration cases.
And some of them are along the lines of “I’ve been trying to offer immigration evaluations, but it’s not working out – where am I going wrong?!”
When I dive deeper, I usually discover at least one of the following:
- Failure to undertake proper training.
Setting yourself up for success with immigration evaluations requires more than simply reading a couple of blogs and jumping right in.
A poorly done evaluation can be ineffective, costing the client time and money (which they might not have). If you want to offer evaluations, ensure it’s for the right reasons and invest in high-quality training, courses, and resources.
- Confusing therapy and evaluations.
Although various professionals and clinicians conduct evaluations in the therapeutic space, they should not be confused with therapy.
Immigration evaluations have set outcomes regarding the report you need to write. Therapy is a very different type of work that should be carried out by different clinicians depending on the client’s unique needs.
You can certainly make recommendations to clients if you feel they would benefit from ongoing therapy.
- A lack of confidence.
I know starting something new can be scary – it can lead to doubts about whether this is something we can (or should) be doing.
I touched on this in a blog about how much imposter syndrome I see in our community. I know that for many entering the world of immigration evaluations for the first time, it’s also the first time they may have considered the plight of immigrants in our country.
It’s easy to look around and see others who are more experienced, accomplished, and in tune with what immigrants might need.
The truth is everyone is different and has something unique to bring to the table. Not every therapist is suitable for every client – we all have something to offer that others don’t and clients need.
- A lack of marketing.
This is a bit of a follow-on from point three, but I’ve also seen it apply to those keen to get started but somehow stall on what it takes to make it happen.
Sometimes people invest in the professional training and skills to offer evaluations and then fail to launch – they don’t market themselves, reach out to potential client channels or start doing evaluations.
Clients won’t just magically find you. You need to be proactive and dedicate part of your week to investing in these activities. Finding a support community is invaluable with this.
There are also services that can help remove all the guesswork – like our Immigration Evaluation Directory.
- Not understanding best practices for evaluation reports.
I know many clinicians are used to writing reports, but evaluation reports differ from some of the standard ones you might encounter.
I’ve seen some individuals charge extraordinary amounts for a one-page report (way too short – this would not provide adequate information). I’ve also seen individuals producing reports that are thirty or more pages long (way too long – this would mostly be filler, and judges and immigration officials would struggle to find the essential information).
Writing an excellent report comes with practice, and there’s no shame in asking questions, getting feedback, and seeking support. This is, after all, one of the most important outcomes of conducting an evaluation.
- Thinking you can’t offer evaluations because you aren’t bilingual.
While being bilingual can definitely be helpful, you do not need to be able to speak another language to start offering immigration evaluations. Remember that for some types of evaluations, you will be interviewing the US citizen family members.
For other types of evaluations where you interview the person hearing immigration relief, the clients may speak very little or no English, so I often work with interpreters.
I speak Spanish fluently, which allows me to communicate with many clients in their preferred language. However, Spanish is just one of the estimated 6,500 languages worldwide that I may need to cater to in my office when conducting immigration evaluations.
Interpreters are a valuable resource to utilize in your practice.
- Low confidence in setting appropriate fees.
You might already know I’ve written about this a few times because it really needs to be discussed more!
The fees we choose to set for ourselves are based on many different factors – don’t compare yourself to others, and make sure you focus on setting fees that honor you, your skills, and your financial needs.
Any of These Sounding Familiar?
One of my biggest goals for the Immigration Evaluation Institute is to create an environment free from judgment and comparison. It’s where we can celebrate our work and talk through challenges.
If any of these mistakes sound familiar, you are in the right place. The Immigration Evaluation Institute isn’t just about courses and resources. It’s an active, supportive community where we learn, grow, and offer high-quality services together.
If you aren’t already a member, I highly encourage you to explore our Immigration Therapist Community and see where we can help you level up your services.
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 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.
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