Athena Care is an experienced forensic evaluator in the area of immigration law.
We provide law firms and lawyers expert forensic psychological services in the four major areas of immigration law – Extreme and Exceptional Hardship Cases, Political Asylum, Spousal Abuse, and Citizenship Waiver cases. His bicultural identity is an asset in illustrating cultural sensitivities that are often involved in these cases.
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. The United States citizen applies for a waiver on the basis that deportation would result in an extreme and exceptional hardship. 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 abuse. 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.
Citizenship Waiver Cases
In these cases, a person who is a legal permanent resident of the United States desires to become a citizen of the United States. However, that individual is unable to pass examinations in United States history and civics, or examinations demonstrating capacity in reading, writing, and speaking in the English language. Psychological evaluations in this area involve the administration of a mental status examination to determine whether there are any cognitive incapacities, or deficits, which interfere with new learning. For example, an individual may have memory problems which interfere with the integration of subject matter material such as history or civics. Some individuals have had such minimal schooling in their native country that they have never learned how to learn. In some cases, a medical problem may interfere with the learning process. Some individuals, especially the elderly, may have developed senile dementia or be in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. In others, an injury, especially head trauma, may have permanently affected learning ability.