Immigration/Extreme Hardship Evaluations
Oceanside Family Therapy & Assessments provides law firms and attorneys nationwide; including California, New York, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville with expert forensic psychological services in the areas of immigration law, including:
- Extreme and Exceptional Hardship
- Political Asylum
- Spousal Abuse
- U Visas
Extreme and Exceptional Hardship
In extreme and exceptional hardship cases, a citizen of the United States, or a legal permanent resident of the United States, is the spouse, fiancée, parent, or child of an individual who may be deported from the U.S or face a 3 or 10 year bar for unlawful presence if they departed the United States (when filing a I-601a waiver). The United States citizen applies for a waiver on the basis that deportation or bar of their relative would result in an extreme and exceptional hardship to the United States citizen/resident.
Relevant factors in these cases include family relationships that would make it extraordinarily difficult for that person to leave the country. For example, a United States citizen may have a sick parent or sibling or be unable to make a living in the country to which his or her spouse would be deported. The U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident might himself or herself be under treatment for a medical condition which could not be as well treated outside of the United States. The children of the United States citizen or legal permanent resident might be far advanced in their education in this country, and unable to speak, read, or write in the language of the foreign country.
In such cases, leaving the United States might represent a permanent bar to the completion of their education. In extreme and exceptional hardship cases, if one parent has to leave the United States, it can produce a separation anxiety disorder on the part of the child left behind. Some children, especially those who are very young and lack the emotional maturity to understand why a parent might have to leave the United States, might also develop a depressive disorder.
In political asylum cases, an individual has been subjected to mistreatment and abuse in a foreign country. Frequently, the mistreatment is associated with a political, religious, ethnic, or gender factor. At some point, the individual flees and makes his or her way to the United States, and files a political asylum claim. In his or her native country, it is very common that the individual has developed psychological problems as a result of the abuse; depressive disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) are common.
Sometimes, the disorder interferes with the ability to file a claim for asylum within the required one-year period. In those cases, it is necessary to make an assessment whether the psychological problems experienced by the individual interfered with the filing of a timely political asylum claim.
In political asylum cases, it is also helpful to assess whether an individual continues to suffer from psychological symptoms after their arrival in the United States. This helps to gauge how profound the trauma was in the country of origin and how long standing the psychological ramifications.
In spousal abuse cases, a woman or a man from a foreign country marries a citizen or a legal permanent resident of the United States. After the marriage, the United States citizen or legal permanent resident then abuses his or her spouse.
The abuse can take the form of verbal, physical, sexual, or psychological mistreatment. It is important in spousal abuse cases to assess the quality of the abuse as well as the frequency, and to evaluate the impact that the abuse has had on the individual.
A U Visa gives legal status to immigrants, even undocumented immigrants, who have been victims of serious crimes in the United States and meet certain other requirements. With a U Visa, the immigrant may stay and work in the United States for up to four years. After three years, however, a victim with a U visa may apply for a green card.
Victims of crimes, including sexual abuse, domestic violence, involuntary servitude, sexual exploitation, kidnapping, female genital mutilation, trafficking, and rape, must have suffered serious physical, mental, or emotional abuse and have information that may help law enforcement in investigating or prosecuting the perpetrators.
Depending on the situation, the victim's family members might also be able to get a U Visa. A number of certifications and forms are involved, so contact an experienced immigration lawyer to assist with your U Visa petition.
When necessary, we will schedule your assessment with a foreign language interpreter in the language of your choice. Our assessment tools are also available in Spanish when requested.
role of the psychotherapist in these cases is to inform the court, not to decide the
ultimate question of deportation. The forensic psychotherapist generally provides the attorney with a
comprehensive written evaluation assessing the degree of hardship, the category
of hardship, related documentation of the history of the person and an
explanation of the impact deportation would have on the person, as well as their
Depending on the results of the evaluation the attorney may or may not submit
the psychological evaluation to the court. The demonstration of extreme exceptional hardship based on the evaluation and other factors does not automatically indicate a
privilege for relief or the granting of cancellation of removal. The Cancellation of
Removal and Adjustment of Status for Certain Nonpermanent Residents (1996):
I.N.A Section: 240 A (b) states in addition to the identification of an exceptionally
extreme hardship the application for cancellation of removal must verify:
• The alien has been physically present continuously in the United States of
America for a period not less than 10 years immediately preceding the
• The alien has been a person of good moral character;
• The alien has not been convicted of an offense or “aggravated felonies.”
The decision to cancel removal is multi-factorial and the determination ultimately
rests with the USDOJ-EIRO Immigration Court Judge, or the Attorney General,
based on the specifics of the case
The purpose of the evaluation in immigration deportation cases is NOT to
diagnosis in order to treat a psychological disturbance, but rather to determine if
the disorder is present and if an exceptional hardship would result due to the
disorder if deportation occurs. Therefore, the forensic evaluator is contractually hired by the immigration attorney NOT the client (even though the client/family usually covers the costs for the evaluation). All reports are furnished directly to the hiring/referral attorney NOT to the client or the client's family.
Meet the Evaluator
A native of Ireland and the UK, Nicole Story, Ed.S, MED - Clinical Director at Oceanside Family Therapy & Assessments is personally familiar with the immigration process and has evaluated, assisted and testified on behalf of numerous individuals, spouses and children of immigrants facing deportation/removal and bars.
She has coordinated with numerous attorneys and assisted dozens of cases through USCIS, Miami Immigration Court, Orlando Immigration Court and Atlanta Immigration Court. In addition to PsyD/EDS level education in assessment, psychopathology and cultural psychology, she has also studied German, French and Spanish languages at college level.
At Oceanside Family Therapy & Assessments,we offer objective, comprehensive evaluations covering mental health, biopsychosocial data and family systems perspectives to the US Immigration Court at the request of any immigration attorney who feels that his or her client has a special situation that would benefit from a forensic therapist.